Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Journalism) and in International Studies (China)
If you want to be a journalist, why not start now. Observe the world around you, and ask yourself why the people, the environment, the infrastructure, the culture, and so on, are the way they are. Sniff out the contradictions, interrogate the players or find something worth sharing, then write. You may have the basic tools to do this — a pen, a notepad, and perhaps there’s a dictaphone, lost in the moat of stationery, bric-a-brac and newspaper clippings, surrounding the desktop on your desk. Before I started the UTS course I had the determination and the zeal to be a journalist, but I knew I needed something more to become the best I can be.
If you want a constant stream of constructive criticism of your work, to learn directly from industry veterans, to broaden your theoretical understanding of the media, to be equipped with defamation and contempt of court law knowledge, to expand and diversify your journalism and research skills, and to boost your employability — become a journalism student at UTS. During my time at UTS I was always chasing and writing up stories and becoming better at it. During my year in China, I filed radio news and current affairs stories from the ABC Beijing Bureau under the watchful eye of the China correspondent. In my final year I filed documentaries for Radio National and I was commissioned to write a front page story for The Sydney Morning Herald.
Lecturers at UTS encourage students to undertake work experience in many newsrooms. My first stint as a work experience student was in the Channel Nine newsroom during the summer holidays before classes began. My resume quickly bulked up as I accumulated practical experience at my local paper Northside Courier, ABC Radio Current Affairs, ABC Radio National, 2SER Community Radio, Channel Ten News and Fairfax Media. Take advantage of the treasure trove of industry contacts the lecturers have that will help you gain experience.
Have infectious enthusiasm, be eager to hear criticism of your work, and be prepared to work hard and burn the midnight oil. It will pay off. As a Korean-Australian journalist I’m often asked whether my background has ever posed as an obstacle while wading through a predominantly caucasion media world. It hasn’t and I’ve never been preoccupied by this difference. Have confidence in yourself, in your abilities, skills and intelligence, and work your uniqueness to your advantage. You bring familiarity, knowledge and contacts, unique to your cultural community that newsrooms are increasingly eager to have. So cherish it and others will too.
Esther Han is a trainee journalist at the Sydney Morning Herald. She won the ‘Best Broadcast Current Affairs Story’ Ossie Award in 2011 and the ‘Best Radio Current Affairs Story’ Ossie Award in 2009 for her university projects. Follow her on Twitter @EstherHjHan