“I always wanted to do a job that made some sort of difference to people’s lives”

By Natalie Whitehouse

NCTJ qualified journalist Katrina Chilver found herself employed before she graduated from De Montfort last summer, obtaining a fantastic full time position as a trainee reporter at The Slough and Royal Borough Observer and Villager newspapers.

Katrina began her role in June, just before she graduated with a First Class degree in Journalism, after being on the hunt for journalism jobs during her time at university:

“I was looking for trainee reporter jobs based all over the country on the journalism website Hold the Front Page throughout my third year at DMU. I was really lucky because I applied for this job in May just as I was finishing my course and was invited to interview that month too.

Photo by Mike Swift

Katrina interviews Mary Berry.   Photo by Mike Swift

“I think it helped that I was open to moving anywhere as jobs in journalism can be limited and it gives you more options if you’re looking all over the country.”

As well as being open to change, she cites her course as another area that gave her a helping hand in securing the role, as well as her time as News Editor for The Demon, and various other placements she undertook throughout her studies:

“The NCTJ preliminary qualifications that I got while at DMU really helped because I wouldn’t really be able to do my job without Shorthand, Media Law and other things I learnt from those exams.

“I also think that the work experience placements I did on local newspapers while at university played a big part because they really showed me how a newsroom works and gave me the chance to have my work published.”

These factors enabled Katrina to land what she describes as her dream role: “This is definitely my dream job. It sounds really cheesy but I always wanted to do a job that made some sort of difference to people’s lives, and although I’m definitely not changing the world in any way, I do get calls from people I have written stories about thanking me and telling me it has helped them, whether that’s raising awareness of their fundraising or helping them get an apology when they have been wronged in some way.”

The role of a journalist is diverse in its nature. Katrina divides her time between looking for story ideas, interviewing, receiving calls from readers and of course writing. And she notes that this makes sure her job always has an edge of excitement:

“I get to chat with loads of different people every day and hear about their lives and other things. I could be interviewing an elderly couple about their 70th wedding anniversary one minute and be writing about someone being arrested the next, it’s not a job that’s ever really boring.”

And her first day on the job proved to be as exciting and interesting as any – going out to cover a story about the Queen:

“I cover the Windsor area and on my first official day at work I was sent down to Windsor Castle to cover the Order of the Garter ceremony. It was pretty exciting to be able to say that your first day at work involved the Queen. I’m yet to meet her but I have met Mary Berry, which some would say is just as exciting!”

Katrina’s aspirations don’t just end here. She plans to get additional qualifications in the hope of furthering her career, and maybe one day becoming an editor:

“At the moment my goal is to get my NQJ qualification so that I can become a senior reporter and I can take that in about a year’s time. After that I hope to become a news editor and hopefully one day an editor, but those goals are quite a way off at the moment.”

As for graduates still searching for jobs, and indeed current students on the lookout too, Katrina leaves some pearls of wisdom when looking for the job that’s right for you:

“I do think it’s just as important for you to find out if you want the job as it is for the employer to decide it you are the right candidate.”

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