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Taylor Geall outside the Herts Advertiser office

Taylor Geall outside the Herts Advertiser office

Gold standard NCTJ graduate Taylor Geall is doing the job he dreamed of at university just one month after completing his course at Brighton Journalist Works.

With three offers he had his pick of jobs in journalism.

Here he explains how with hindsight he would have saved himself the student debt and studied for an NCTJ diploma instead of his journalism degree.

I have just finished my first day as junior reporter at the Herts Advertiser in St Albans – a job title I have wanted since before I finished uni.

Despite having a journalism degree, it was a job for which I was apparently not qualified.

I had passed my media law exams, written countless essays and had discussions ad infinitum on the ethics of journalism.

I had acquired experience at The Sun and the Chichester Observer and worked as a news editor for my student newspaper.

Job rejection

I was, it seemed to me at the time, at the front of the queue of people to ‘get a foot in the door’ somewhere, anywhere.

I then spent six months trying (and failing) to land an interview.

Rejection after rejection followed.

It is a competitive industry, I thought. Just keep knocking and something will come up, I told myself.

It didn’t. Hmm.

What was I doing wrong?

I left school in a rush to be a writer, quickly enrolled and then quickly dropped out of an English Literature degree at Queen Mary.

I spent a year or two travelling and working, ticking off twenty-odd countries and earning more money than I am likely to earn for a long time.

But journalism was what I chose.

Journalism blended writing, a career in the media and the potential for travel and seemed, to me at least, the best fit.

Three years later and I had the letters B and A after my name. As it turns out, the letters I really needed were N, C, T and J.

University debt

In hindsight, I should have found an NCTJ-accredited course to start with.

In hindsight, I should have saved myself the £30,000 university debt.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. But you know what is better than hindsight? Foresight.

So here is some foresight on the house: if you’re thinking about becoming a journalist (and why would you not be? It’s the best career there is) go and do an NCTJ.

Job interviews

I had six months of nothing without an NCTJ and then within two weeks of applying for jobs with those magic four letters on my CV, I had lined up interviews in Cambridge, Weymouth, Maidstone, Guildford, Maidenhead, Soho, the Isle of Wight and St Albans.

Not just interviews; offers, too. I turned down more jobs in one week post-NCTJ than I had ever thought possible after uni.

My university experience was fantastic and provided me with the fundamental journalist tools.

But my NCTJ at Brighton Journalist Works helped sharpen those tools, make me employable and set me on my way.

Taylor joined Brighton Journalist Works on the February 2015 16-week fast-track NCTJ diploma. He graduated as a Gold Sandard journalist in June 2015 achieving A-C grades in reporting, media law, court reporting, portfolio, public affairs, production journalism and 100wpm shorthand.

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