August 31, 2008
by Anna Roxelana Ward
Many students would be daunted by the prospect of doing an intensive journalism course at the London School of Journalism (LSJ) during their summer holidays. Aasiyah Dana (pictured) has wasted no time since graduating this year from Queen Mary’s with a 1st in English Literature.
She enrolled on the four-week course which cost Â£1395 and is accredited by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ). She is due to start her internship this September at The Guardian newspaper.
How did you find time to study and do work-experience in journalism while at University?
Discipline is everything! I guess it helps that I’m a perfectionist; it means that once I set myself a deadline I absolutely have to stick to it. I don’t think you can study literature or be a journalist half-heartedly; you really need to be passionate about it and I found this attitude helped me to create a balance so I could do both at the same time.
Did you write mainly for the University press?
I got involved with the university magazine because student media is a tried and tested route to work as a journalist after graduation. I joined the features team and at the same time kept an eye out for internships with local or national publications during the holidays. At the end of my first year I secured an internship with Itchy City, the guide to London.
What kind of publication do you want work for in the future?
My dream is to write for a major mainstream publication, ideally for a supplement such as G2 or The Times Magazine but I would love to continue writing as a freelance journalist. I have really enjoyed writing for Muslim publications, such as Emel magazine and the must newspaper for Muslim university students. It gave me the chance to deal with unique subject matters and look at stories from a completely different angle.
Has doing a journalism course at the LSJ made you want to specialise in a particular area?
I’ve always wanted to be a features writer; I enjoy getting stuck into something and really exploring the issue. The course has helped me explore and develop my style of writing as well as understand how hard I have to work and how much I’ll have to improve if I want to be successful! I learnt quickly that single-minded determination combined with a willingness to try my hand at whatever is on offer is essential.
What skills from the LSJ course will you bring to your work placement with the Guardian?
Learning how to write appropriately for different sections of a publication and for different types of stories has been really helpful, especially because I’ll be working at different desks at the Guardian: from the main paper to supplements like Money and Society. Another skill I’ll take with me is the ability to work under pressure and to extremely tight deadlines. I can’t imagine being fazed by much having spent the last couple of weeks churning out assignments in very little time!
Will you continue working towards a career in journalism after the Guardian placement?
Yes, in October I’m doing a Postgraduate Certificate in Fashion and Lifestyle Journalism at the London College of Fashion. I think this course will help me to focus and find my niche and, like at the LSJ summer school, I will have the opportunity to learn from established journalists. The classes will be two days a week so I’m hoping to work as an intern during the rest of the week. I love journalism and writing and can’t imagine doing anything else with my life!
Anna Roxelana Ward is a student at Manchester University
Photo credit: Stephen Lawson from Emel magazine
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