Brighton Journalist Works recent fast-track graduate, Tom Brown, shares his incredible decision to follow his passion for writing and turn down a teaching role in Dubai…
At the start of the course, when I had yet to find my first story or walk into court for the first time, I was still split between taking a Journalism career path and moving to Dubai for a teaching position.
I had already accepted the teaching job, but planned to write part-time while working abroad.
Sixteen weeks later I had turned down the Dubai job and had already lined-up journalism interviews in London.
Now, I have a substantial portfolio of hard news and features, as well as 100wpm in shorthand and a confidence in finding stories on the fly.
Once, following a story about graffiti in the North Laines in Brighton, I quickly ran into taggers and street artists as potential interviewees, as well as community members taking steps to remove the graffiti.
Many of them were not comfortable sharing their names with the paper, fearing retribution.
Precautions had to be taken to ensure nobody on either side of the dispute could use the story to track down anyone else.
For me, discovering the legal minutiae of journalism was one of the most intriguing aspects of the course.
Coming from a University background I had gotten used to waiting weeks to book appointments with busy Tutors who often ignored emails if their work-load was too high.
The small class sizes allow time for tutors to get to know trainees on a personal level.
Every Brighton Journalist Works tutor I emailed however responded within the day, ready to help however they could.
I loved the focus on hard skills, such as shorthand, InDesign, quick copy-writing and firm legal knowledge.
The only reading list given was the news.
It was totally different from the soft skills developed at University and helped me feel prepared to enter the world of journalism.
You are quickly thrown into scenarios that real journalists encounter, from crown court cases to real newsrooms.
While working at Museum Crush, a museum-focused magazine for the first week of my work experience, I sat down to interview the curator of the Ashmolean museum about an upcoming exhibition of magical items.
We talked for over an hour, covering magic mirrors, unicorn horns and spell books from Queen Elizabeth I’s occult advisor.
I sat down to my laptop, rather pleased with myself, only to find once pressing replay on my recorder that it hadn’t caught a single word.
This would normally have led to an embarrassing talk with the editor, but thankfully I had managed to scribble down most of the conversation in wiry shorthand.
The feature was saved, and I learned the valuable lesson of never trusting my phone recorder.
The great thing the course does is it gives you the space to make mistakes and keep on improving.
Many people who took the course had little to no experience in journalism before.
Above all, the best experience came from being around focused people who are serious about their careers and who are excited about doing something different.