In the three years which have now passed since I celebrated graduation on the steps of the Anglican Cathedral, I have been privileged enough to secure not one, but two dream jobs in journalism.
Progression from quiet student lacking in confidence, to working with world football’s governing body, to a position with the club I have supported since childhood can be attributed, in my opinion, to one factor: hard work.
My journey began with LJMU and this website, which had been launched during the second year of my course to give journalism students a platform to showcase their coursework and experience the world of work.
By my own admission I had barely embraced the various facets of university life during my first two years of study and entered the final 12 months aware that a massive change was required in my approach.
But inspired by the rapid progress of the JMU Journalism website and the work of the people around me, I threw myself into the challenge of improving and developing a significant news outlet in the city of Liverpool.
I picked up core skills; teamwork, communication, pitching ideas, writing, editing, leadership, interviewing techniques. Working to deadlines and battling friendly competition for the best stories helped to hone my journalism ability on a daily basis.
The unique buzz of having my work published online for JMU Journalism remained just as thrilling with each new piece and as my time at university drew to a close I felt genuinely prepared – perhaps for the first time – as a journalist and a person.
A two-month work placement with FIFA.com during the 2010 World Cup provided my first paid position in the industry and, crucially, offered an unlikely foothold on the career ladder.
Working on an event of that magnitude was both demanding and rewarding; the absolute need for accuracy and concentration was balanced with the pleasure of being involved in a tournament I have loved for many years.
I secretly hoped but never expected that a permanent position might eventually arise from my short period with FIFA; when I was offered a full-time job in September 2010 I could barely believe my luck.
The scope of the role was enormous – report on football news from across the globe daily, edit and maintain the hundreds of thousands of pages published on the website, and boost the organisation’s social media profile.
During more than two years in the position I had the opportunity to report on England internationals from Wembley, interview the likes of Craig Bellamy, Rafael Benitez and Gary Lineker, and develop strong contacts.
The opportunity to travel to Brazil for the Confederations Cup in 2013 and potentially return 12 months later for the World Cup lay on the horizon; I was settling myself for many years with FIFA.com.
And then my first love came calling…
While still with FIFA, I was offered a number of freelance shifts by Liverpool FC, working on the club’s official website at their offices in the city centre, during the summer of 2012 and beyond.
Working for Liverpool was a lifelong dream of mine; working for Liverpoolfc.com had been an ambition since the age of 16, when I decided that journalism was the chosen career path for me.
I wrote news and features for the website, conducted interviews and provided match reports throughout the Reds’ summer tour of North America – all during a period of immense scrutiny and excitement following the appointment of Brendan Rodgers as the new manager.
This continued until October 2012, when the position of permanent website journalist was advertised. Following a lengthy interview, I was offered the role and signed for my club with great pleasure.
I’m in good JMU Journalism company at LFC, as fellow graduates Sophie Fairclough, Stephen Dickinson and Joel Richards all work for the club in some capacity.
As for me, I now report for the official website from almost every home Liverpool fixture, occasionally travel to away matches, interview players before and after games and meet former Reds stars, in addition to the daily routines of sourcing and writing news.
I also take a lead on the club’s official Facebook page, which reaches more than 12million supporters throughout the world, update our Google+ profile, and manage the current 100 Players Who Shook the Kop poll – a massive summer-long project.
Aside from a touch of fortune along the way, none of this would have been possible without the fundamental skills I learned during my time with JMU Journalism.
Luckily for me, the phrase we used three years ago still rings true: Exciting Times.