Communication graduate: Isha Bassi
Post Writer, BuzzFeed
Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Journalism)*
*The Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Journalism) is now known as the Bachelor of Communication (Journalism).
It’s been somewhat of a surreal experience – never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be working for a company like BuzzFeed so early on in my career.
Looking back, what were some of the highlights of your time at UTS?
Choosing to study at UTS was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Throughout my three years, I had an incredible range of opportunities to refine my reporting and writing skills. Whether that was through practical assignments like News Day, submitting a story for Vertigo (the student magazine), or having lectures from industry professionals, there was always something available to help you become the best journalist you could be.
But I believe some of my greatest and most memorable experiences happened when I became involved with a student club called the UTS Society of Communications (UTSoC). Although I initially joined the Publications team to improve my writing, I ended up progressing to the role of President in my final year where I helped launch the inaugural First Year Communications Camp, Communications Ball, and “Racism. It Stops With Me” campaign at UTS. It was incredible to be part of real change at UTS and to see my hard work touch the lives of so many current and future students.
It was even more rewarding being part of a student committee that became almost like your second family – we supported each other through the good and the bad, and pushed one another to achieve bigger and better things. Without them, I don’t believe I would be the confident and driven journalist I am today.
What is your current title and how did you end up in this role?
I’m currently working at BuzzFeed as a Post Writer but I started at the company as an Editorial Fellow and was also a Junior Staff Writer. After graduating in 2017, I was on the lookout for a job that would share, support, and understand my obsession for all things pop culture. A good friend of mine then sent me the application link for The Fellowship, a three-month internship program run by BuzzFeed, thinking that I would be perfect for it. It was a long and tough application process that involved producing multiple pieces of sample content. But I got in, worked extremely hard for the next three months, and was lucky enough to secure a permanent position as a writer there. It’s been somewhat of a surreal experience – never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be working for a company like BuzzFeed so early on in my career.
Why did you choose to work at BuzzFeed over a traditional news organisation?
My decision to work at BuzzFeed over a traditional news organisation boils down to a lesson I learned in one of my very first Journalism tutorials – write about something you’re passionate about because that’s when your writing will be the strongest. And after countless assignments, internships, and extra-curricular activities, I realised that for me it was pop culture.
It’s easy to say that now but coming to that realisation took time. There’s a lot of pressure to figure things out in your final semester and studying a flexible degree like Communications doesn’t make it any easier. Unlike nursing or teaching, you’re not left with a straightforward job option once you reach the end. The choice of where you want to make your mark is left all up to you. And for most of us, that’s an incredibly hard and scary decision to make. But if you just think back to all the times you’ve had to write something, whether that’s an essay or an article, there are certain topics where the writing has felt like no work at all. It becomes less of a chore and more of a passion.
For myself, that was when I wrote about the history of YouTube and its increasing use as a digital medium for a Media Studies essay. Or when I chose to focus the entirety of my final Journalism feature on women in the video game industry. All the signs were pointing me towards a career surrounded by pop culture, so that’s why I chose to follow that through my job at BuzzFeed.
What does a day at BuzzFeed look like?
A typical day at BuzzFeed starts even before I’m in the office. On my way to work, I’m usually scanning my social media feeds for any potential stories.
This could range from anything like a celebrity news story to a trending meme on Twitter. Once everyone has arrived, my team then has a meeting to discuss what posts, videos, and content we’re planning to cover for the day. We also bounce ideas off one another to see what particular frames or angles would work best. After that, it’s off to work to film a video, write a post, or make some memes! During the day we also keep track of anything that’s trending on social media or of any major celebrity news that can be covered. It sounds simple enough, but it can easily get hectic, especially since you’re usually juggling a number of projects at the same time.
What skills do you think journalists of today need?
My advice to anyone studying Journalism is to make yourself as multi-skilled as possible. The industry is becoming increasingly competitive and unfortunately, it’s just not enough to specialise in just the one medium anymore.
Take my role at BuzzFeed as an example – although my title is 'Post Writer', I’m expected to produce a combination of posts, videos, and social content as part of my role.
You don’t have to be an expert by any means, but it is worth branching out into different mediums, styles of writing, and editing programs to learn the basics. The Journalism program at UTS does a pretty good job of this already, but it doesn’t hurt to take that learning further and to build on it by creating your own podcast or shooting some videos on the side. By doing this, you’ll create a portfolio of work that you can showcase to future employers which looks great when you’re applying for jobs.
Learn more about the Bachelor of Communication (Journalism).