JMU Journalism alumni off to work

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Kirsty McHale

The reality of joining the working world is dawning for final year journalism students. Many will be worried about the prospect of being left unemployed after graduation with a huge pile of debts. However, after hearing from some JMU Journalism graduates lately, there is hope of a bright and interesting future yet.

Current third year students, Dan McKenzie and Luke Johnson, have already secured employment even before they have graduated. Dan will start work as a reporter for the Widnes Weekly News in May, while Luke landed a job at gadget magazine website T3 after going there for his final year work experience.

Last year’s JMU Journalism Chief Sports Reporter, Kirsty McHale, managed to find a job without having to leave Liverpool Innovation Park after graduating in July 2009. She now works for marketing company Hit Search as an online press executive. She said: “I can’t believe my luck to have landed a job like this so soon after graduation. I heard that the company were expanding and were looking for a specialised writer to produce all of their content and they chose me. I think they were impressed by my NCTJ portfolio.”

Jake Schembri, who also graduated in July 2009, got his first journalism job working at The Times of Malta on his home island before relocating to the UK to work for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes racing team, writing web content for

Charlotte Penketh, a fellow Journalism graduate from John Moores in the last academic year, is now working as a copywriter for a web design company in Liverpool. Our former Fashion Editor joked: “It took me one month’s work experience but then they realised they couldn’t let me go! All my online journalism experience has helped me out so much and I’m so glad I chose it in my third year.”

Another student realising her dreams is Scarlett Smith, who has managed to meet and speak with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, with her new job coming soon after graduating last year. She is currently working as a marketing assistant for England Squash and Racketball. During her university career, Scarlett did several work experience placements. She said: “This is something that is vital to show potential employers, it shows them that you are willing to get out there, sometimes be shouted at, do things wrong but ultimately you are eager to work and work hard at that.”

Scarlett Smith

Now working at Metro Radio in Newcastle, Sam Clack has been working hard as a young journalist. He has covered several major stories in the city, such as the tragic death of Newcastle legend Sir Bobby Robson. When asked how the course prepared him for the working world he said: “As much as the course prepared me well prior to my postgraduate degree and eventual entry into the profession, it was also a lot of fun. Hard work, but really enjoyable, something which continues to be reflected in the job itself.”

Amy Kennett, who graduated in 2006, has gone on to do volunteer work in Colombia. Stationed in Bogota she helps children whose parents have been murdered by gangs, whose lives are funded by drugs and those who suffer from physical and mental abuse on a daily basis.

Before this she worked in London for a PR analysis company. When asked how her time at JMU has helped her with life now she said: “Journalism makes you aware of the world around you and to ask questions of it. In some aspects you need to be brave to be a journalist as you are more than likely going to be disliked, have to speak to people in difficult positions and maintain tenacity.”





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