DMU gives graduates a helping hand

By Natalie Whitehouse

For graduates, the task of gaining employment immediately after university is a tough one, especially if the industry they wish to get into is fiercely competitive. On leaving university, many people find their vast amount of experience is still not enough to qualify them for their dream job.

That’s where DMU have stepped in: developing a placement scheme entitled DMU Graduate Champions, which seeks to find six-week paid work placements for graduates looking for further experience in industry.

Journalism graduate Conor Davies was more than happy to be involved with this fantastic initiative when he was offered a placement, which began at the start of this year.

Since finishing university, Conor has travelled to California as part of a #DMUglobal trip, as well as having a job in the DMU Accommodation office on his return. The 21-year-old is now employed part time as in Medical Recruitment at his local hospital in Derby, so when he heard about the DMU Graduate Champions Scheme, he was eager to apply:

“I applied for it [the scheme] as soon as I heard about it. There are lots of opportunities out there but, as I currently live in Derby, most of them are unpaid and in London… it’s difficult to make this work realistically. So getting paid and being almost guaranteed a place through DMU’s employability commitments means I went for the scheme almost immediately.”

After applying, Conor, who graduated from De Montfort with a First Class degree, was given the opportunity to work as Communications Officer for the DMU Communications team, which has seen him gain vital workplace experience to add to his CV:

“My skills that had been developed and honed on the journalism course like interviewing and the art of putting a news story together have been tested. I’ve been on the placement for three weeks and I’ve written about audiology, neural networks and successful students. It’s been a whirlwind but it’s refreshing to get back into journalism after a short break.”

Conor (right) at graduation

Conor (right) at graduation

As well as working on honing his talents, the internship has also allowed Conor to add further skills and expertise to his collection:

“I think adding skills like publishing to Content Management Systems, as well as the increased amount of work I can add to my Portfolio and experience in the communications side of things will add to my employability prospects. Especially as so far my work experience had been specifically in the sports side of things in newspapers.”

Ideally, Conor’s dream job would be a sports reporter for a newspaper or a magazine, but he admits it’s a challenge to find your perfect job straight away in such a competitive industry:

“It is a challenge in the current landscape of jobs and opportunities, but I’ll never stop trying, and would definitely grab any job in journalism if offered to me to enable me to start working my way through the ranks.”

And Conor’s current internship is providing him with an extra bit of experience that will, hopefully, make him stand out from the crowd and appeal to prospective employers. But aside from that, the placement is also proving something Conor likes to do – which is often half the battle:

“I’m really enjoying it. It’s very refreshing for it to be my ‘day job’ for a couple of days a week. The Comms. team have been great with me too, treating me like a proper member of staff rather than a work experience kid, and have given me plenty of opportunities to test and challenge myself.

“I definitely would [recommended the internship scheme]. DMU’s employability focus is unique and certainly one of the best attributes the university has had from day one. I remember in my first year of journalism, we were expected to arrange work experience for ourselves at our own local newspapers. This commitment was essential and gave me the newfound confidence to match my journalistic skills, which had been honed in the first term at university.

“With this placement, it almost feels like I’ve come full circle, and DMU is still there to support myself and fellow graduates with these paid placements.”

“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.”

“Just keep motivated” – A graduate’s advice for securing a full time job

By Natalie Whitehouse

Patience and hard work are key to securing a full time job, says Shriya Pancholi; a Journalism and Media graduate who managed to get employed as a Social Media Assistant by Dunelm – without even having to go for an interview!

The 21-year-old fashion enthusiast applied for a host of jobs before securing the position at Dunelm, after already applying for a different role within the company:

“I originally applied for the role of Public Relations Assistant around August and had an interview for the role. My interviewer was very happy with the skills, qualities and experience I had but decided that I would be perfectly suited to a job in social media, and told me that if a social media vacancy ever came up, she would offer me the job.”

Shriya also notes that previous experience at the company assisted her greatly in becoming part of the Dunelm team:

“During my final year I managed to get a four week placement at Dunelm within the PR and Social Media Department. I put myself out there and looked for a placement, even though it wasn’t a requirement of my course. Because the manager and the rest of the team remembered me, she was more than happy to offer me a job.”

Experience definitely plays a major role in securing a full time job after university. As well as her placement at Dunelm, Shriya has undertaken a vast amount of work within journalism, most notably as a writer for The Demon and fashion blogger for Bonafide Supernova:

“Even if you don’t need work experience or a placement for your degree, it is really important to do it anyway,” she stresses, “I wouldn’t have the great job I have today if I didn’t put myself out there and give up some of my time – it was definitely worth it.”

Shriya Pancholi

As for her role at Dunelm, Shriya has been Social Media Assistant at the company since the end of September – after finishing traveling in the Far East, no less.

Some of her day-to-day duties include checking the social channels, liaising with the web and digital marketing team and speaking to external PR agencies, as well as being involved in projects, citing Dunelm’s recent Christmas competition as her favourite thus far.

Alongside this, Shriya also writes Dunelm’s quarterly company magazine, the Gazette, focusing on colleague information, managerial updates and financial reviews:

“I love writing the Gazette,” she adds, “Because I come from a Journalism and Media background, I love being able to merge the two in my role and it’s great to see the finished version of the Gazette once it has been printed.”

The diversity and constant changes within her role are also qualities which have made Shriya fall in love with what she does:

“I love the fact that I have something new to come in to everyday. Although I’m running the same social channels and focusing on similar content, there’s always something new that pops up. It’s really interesting learning something new every day. No two days are the same!”

But the graduate does admit she misses university life, and has a message for all current students:

“I absolutely love my job, but I do miss university. I would say to all students, make the most of your time at university, because it goes so fast! Yes, I hated the 9:00am lectures and yes I hated sitting through seminars that seemed to go on for hours, but looking back, I wouldn’t have changed it for anything.”

And Shriya also has some encouraging words for graduates who are still seeking employment:

“Even if you don’t have your dream job yet, just keep motivated, work hard and it’ll only be a matter of time before you have the career you really want.”

Journalism graduate secures dream role

By Natalie Whitehouse

A love of music and a ton of hard work has seen recent journalism graduate Rachael Scarsbrook land a job in the industry she has strived to be in for years.

The 21-year-old graduated last summer from De Montfort, and has secured a position with Renegade Music as a Promotions Assistant – but it wasn’t without a lot of hard work, commitment and perseverance:

“I worked closely with Renegade whilst I was music editor of The Demon for the last two years of my degree,” she notes, “and upon graduating, I merely enquired as to the possibility of an internship or a part time job. It took a few months for something to become available, but I was contacted for an interview in September and was successful, and I’ve been there ever since!”

At first Rachael’s position at the promotions agency was part time, working two days a week and also being employed at a coffee shop – meaning sometimes she was working an incredibly tiring seven days a week just to get by.

Although she admits it was tough, it has definitely been worth it for what she states is a job in a industry she has been striving towards working in for a number of years – especially since her position became full time at the start of this month.

And her experience prior to graduating from DMU is something that helped her stand out as a candidate, with her degree in journalism also playing an incredibly vital part:

“My experience within music journalism certainly gave me a massive advantage. A lot of my work is signing new clients and so I need to have a really good grasp on all sorts of genres and what is happening in the world.

“My degree is probably the biggest help, as it taught me how to work in a professional journalism environment and a lot of the practices I learnt over the course of my degree are things I use day to day.”

In terms of these day-to-day tasks, Rachael focuses on processing reports for her record label clients so that they can examine the effectiveness of their campaigns. She also suggests new labels and artists that her company could benefit from working with, as well as assisting on projects at Renegade:

“I am involved quite heavily in all of the projects that we run, but in particular I am involved with a small rotation of bands that I have signed up to the company and are firmly on the up and coming lists of all the music blogs, which is a very exciting thing to see unfolding.”

The perks of the job are also pretty great for such an avid music fan:

“I think the most exciting thing so far is all of the gigs and events that I now have access to. A sold out gig is no longer an issue and the new vinyl or CD releases always come our way first. I am really enjoying all of it, but first and foremost as a music fan there is nothing better than free gigs and vinyl!”

Grateful to be employed in a role that is “certainly along the lines” of her dream job, Rachael is now looking at how she can use this as a platform for the future and a stepping-stone for the next steps in her career:

“I feel very lucky to have more or less landed straight into where I want to be for the future, and I’m building up lists of contacts that are invaluable for future career prospects.

“My plans for the future centre around working at a specific record label to manage some of the bigger bands, and maybe move in to actual band management.”