Film and travel writer Amy Labbadia recalls her time at university and explains how aspiring journalists should take advantage of the experience…
Going to university can be one of the most important, rewarding, terrifying and expensive decisions you ever make. That’s why it’s important to make the most of your time there, to make those three years count.
Of course studying hard is the staple to success and should never be underestimated or overlooked, but a healthy social life should not be discounted either.
Although the stereotype of students partying and sleeping every day is somewhat accurate (in certain circles anyway), it does have its merits.
Without socialising and mingling, I would never have landed several journalism opportunities, which only became available to me by meeting other local journalists and writers.
My first interview with a well known novelist came about because I was “a friend of a friend.” Sometimes a stroke of luck is all you need – being in the right place at the right time – but often enough if you put yourself out there and make acquaintances, chances are they’ll eventually do you a favour.
So, that’s my first piece of practical advice: get out there. Make some friends. Secondly, write, and write well. You should aim to write every single day, whether it’s thirty thousand words or one. Doing this will keep you active, keen, and tone your writing muscle.
As you gain experience writing regularly, try and interact with your university’s student newspaper or magazine (most, if not all, have one) and see if they’ll publish one of your articles.
Not only is this a great start, but you’d be surprised at how many people read those student papers. A lot of universities host writing competitions – enter them! Even if you don’t win any, it’s still good experience for receiving and handling rejection.
Trust me, there will be a lot of that before you get your first break.
Thirdly, make use of your university’s resources; the library, the computers, and especially your lecturers and mentors.
They are a well of knowledge, and have years of experience in the industry. They’ll be able to advise and help you along the way, and put you in touch with other writers and journalists.
Since graduating, I’ve kept in touch with most of my lecturers and always go to them when I require advice; if you maintain a healthy relationship with them, they’ll always be there to lend you a helping hand. And, perhaps most importantly, they’ll offer you honesty.
It’s always nice to be told your writing is good, but it’s more important and crucial to be given constructive criticism – and that’s where your lecturers will be most useful.
Amy Labbadia is a freelance writer. She graduated from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge with a degree in Film and Writing and has since gone on to write for several travel and film websites. She also runs her own film blog, www.britishcinemaonline.com