Tell us a bit about your background please...
I am not unfamiliar with the world of higher education, having spent nearly 8 years pursuing a PhD part time, self -funded and working a range of freelance and zero-hour lecturing positions to fund my academic research. I was in the wilderness with the PhD for a long time, but back in April 2016, I made the decision to quit my job and give myself the ultimatum to either finish the PhD or walk away and get on with my life. After exactly 12 months of writing, I managed to get the thesis over the line pass my viva with very minimal corrections. I was left feeling pretty broken after the process, and although I managed to find a job straight after the PhD, I just wasn’t able to catch my breath from exhaustion from the whole thing. After six months, I had to sign myself off sick for stress and move back to Glasgow. When I was in counselling, I realised that I had been denying myself of the career I wanted to do since I was very small, which to be a journalist. Although my PhD research was looking at media studies, I always felt I was on the outside looking in, observing rather than practicing. When I discovered that I could qualify for SAAS, I decided to apply for Strathclyde as I knew the journalism postgraduate degree was highly practical and highly rated.
What inspired you to enter the world of Higher Education?
It was mainly for recovery. I have been working on my own, in isolation for nearly 3-4 years - not including the PhD process, which never moved on when I was working full time. After a year of writing, then a bad experience in a job (that involved moving my entire life away for on my own), I needed to return to my roots (which was learning and space for writing) and be surrounded by like-minded people with the same goals. I chose to return to HE because it would provide me with a ready-made cohort, access to experienced practitioners and support and allow me to dedicate time in my diary for getting well again.
Why did you choose to study for the PG Diploma Digital Journalism?
I know many people who have come through the course and were successful in their careers. Similarly, I knew it would allow me to build a portfolio effectively, work with other journalists at this stage in their career and fill that gap in my career history that I never got to do the first time around.
What has been the highlight of your time at Strathclyde/highlight of the course so far?
Developing and launching the Glasgow Sloth – I have been able to put some of my previous experience from a past life into action and use to do real, proper journalism.
How have you found studying part-time?
It has allowed me to set aside time for my development, which is often lose when you are self employed person or somebody who works on short term contracts. The workload fits within my routine but also there is plenty of services and support you can access as part time student – I’ve found myself attending undergraduate lectures and other seminars as well.
What would be your advice for people considering taking this course?
It is a great way to kick start your confidence as a journalist. I did a short course over the summer funded by the centre of investigative journalism that resulted a story that was published during my second semester on the course. I found today that I was short-listed for national journalism prize in London, one of 4. Before I did this course, I would have never had the confidence to write in this – but also to put my work forward to be judged at this level. If you are swithering on applying, this think about all the possible opportunities that might appear for you as a writer and digital practitioner by being around such a supportive environment but also a place that really want their students to do well.
What do you think of the support available?
Just brilliant! I’ve been to a number of free events that the university have managed to get us to be part of (such as the News Academy Scotland) – there is a great mix between professional journalists and academics who research journalism. One of my favourite experiences was when we ran a live newsroom for a tabloid and we had to produce a front page to deadline – roleplay included. Creative learning and teaching at play!
What are your ambitions for the future?
I definitely want to spend a few years working as practising journalist on a beat, scratch that itch some more - with the goal to remain on the edges academia at the intersection between teaching and research in this area. Who knows?