HELPING STUDENTS THINK OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM BOX
Back in 1995, I was cub reporter in Nottinghamshire, learning my trade having signed my indentures at a local weekly newspaper in Mansfield.
Shorthand. Long days. High enthusiasm. Low pay.
Ah, they were the days. You wrote your article and submitted it by saving it to a floppy disc and then putting aforementioned disc into another computer.
No website for the newspaper group I worked for.
Couple of deadlines a week. Then, on a regional daily where technology had moved forward and deadlines were more like six a day for the different editions. I can’t recall if there was a website for that paper or not. If there was, it was embryonic.
Move forward to earlier this week.
After 18 years or so being a journalist and PR practitioner, I decided to help students of today.
I was in a room at Vision West Notts, the college on the corner of Nottingham Road and Derby Road in Mansfield.
As statements go, the college is shouting loudly. The building itself isn’t the norm. It’s bright, it’s stylish.
In a room in the college, I spoke for about an hour and half to a group of media students. Some wanted to go into music journalism, another into beauty and another loved all things equestrian.
I decided to share my thoughts so as to help them. I don’t remember anyone from the world of work helping me when at sixth college on the Manchester/Stockport border.
To be fair, it may not have helped. I wanted to go to university to study classics. I did.
Part of doing this was about helping. I was prompted to do it after getting fed up with emails from people looking at getting into PR but with little understanding of what blogging or digital is. And, too many times have I answered the phone to a parent trying to get their youngster some work experience or even a job.
With support and guidance, I rang people myself. I got myself into newspaper work experience slots.
Anyway, I thought my titbits of advice would help them make decisions about their career. I hoped it would help dispel some myths and I hoped they would learn about some of the things that will help them stand out when it comes to looking for employment or getting onto a university course.
Some of the students were 16. Others 17. I’ve been working for longer than they have been alive.
And how the media has changed in that time. How PR has changed. Social media has changed everything.
Newspapers are thinking Digital First when it comes to publishing articles. Twitter and Facebook mean that news can be published by anyone with a social media presence and a smart phone.
But when it comes to the students, how things have changed for them – in some ways. Where I wanted to get into journalism, I had work experience stints on a variety of weekly and daily papers – Yorkshire Post, Manchester Evening News and the Stockport Express to name a few.
I could demonstrate a desire to be in journalism.
These days, it is much more difficult to get work experience, but it is easy to set up a blog, and to write about a subject that students find interesting. From the group at Vision West Notts, music and fashion seemed to interest most.
It’s easy to share content, With Twitter they can get into conversations with leading people in their field and learn from people.
It’s important that students get the digital aspect, and it’s wrong to think all young people are well into social media and new technologies. Some of the ones I spoke to had a Twitter profile. None blogged.
But in an ever-more competitive job market, if they can demonstrate an understanding of blogging, social media and personal PR, they will help to make themselves stand out.
Thinking outside the classroom box will help them.