Our graduatesZara Janjua, MLitt Journalism

Zara Janjua journalism graduateTell us a little about your background…
I studied a masters in Journalism. I had an undergraduate degree in Business and had been working in Bermuda running a rum bar. I had always wanted to write and saw this as a direct career path to the kind of work I would enjoy.

What advice would you give to someone considering studying your course?
Be prepared to dedicate time to the course. The more you put in, the more you will get out. Be advised that work experience is an essential stepping stone to a career in journalism and media. I worked at The Scotsman newspaper and The Scottish Human Rights Commission during my time at Strathclyde. I was in a strong position to apply for roles when I finished.

Do you have a highlight from your time at university?
A highlight from my degree was the contacts I made. From my fellow students (who I am still friends/colleagues and bridesmaid for) to the lecturers and guest speakers. Networking is what creates opportunity, applying for hundreds of jobs with the same CV and cover letter rarely does.

Was there a work placement or ‘real life’ element to the course?
I loved working at The Scottish Human Rights Commission. I won a place on the first ever digital internship that ran parallel with the legal internship. I worked closely with all the journalists there, understanding the work they did that underpinned the functions of the Commission. I had the opportunity to work with refugees, members of the traveling community, people living in care and other minority groups. I worked on a disability podcast and was credited in the official documents and papers that year for the Government which boosted my confidence and interest in pursuing a career in journalism.

Where are you working now?
Now I work as a TV Presenter, Writer and Producer/ Director. This year I joined the BBC Writers Room and hosted a new comedy show on the BBC. I was named as a New Voice Talent on BBC Radio, hosted a podcast series for RBS and I present events for the Scottish Government. This year I shared a stage with Nicola Sturgeon to announce the Gender Pay Gap Action Plan on International Women's Day. As a Producer Director I was part of ITV This Morning team to collect the NTA this year and I work with brands to create award winning content. From Stonewall 50 Gay Pride in NY to space selfies with Cara Delevingne.

What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is the people I meet. I love stories and fall in love with the backgrounds, characters, talents and successes of everyday people who overcome huge obstacles to achieve their dreams or help others.

How did your time at Strathclyde help prepare you for this role?
Strathclyde gave me the confidence to chase stories and enjoy the thrill of news. My first role as a journalist was a direct result of my degree. It was the first stepping stone that led to dynamic opportunities.

What has been your most memorable moment from your career so far?
My most memorable moment in my career so far was as a young journalist being asked to cover a dressage competition in Edinburgh. I found out Princess Zara was competing and was desperate to get an interview. I 'borrowed' a horse and jodhpurs (2 sizes too small) and attempted to saddle up to her as she came off the course. I couldn’t ride the horse so it took off in the opposite direction. She helped me keep it on course and felt so sorry for me that she gave me an interview. It became a scoop and made it into every paper in the country.

What are your ambitions for the future?
I'd love to present a travel show that takes me to some of the more uninhabited parts of the world. And as every journalist will tell you... I'm working on a novel.

Do you have any final words of wisdom that you’d like to share?
The best advice I could give anyone starting out is to make connections and find people to collaborate with. Work hard and be brave. If you're open to opportunities, you'll discover paths you never thought possible.