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Media mentors prove popular with UCLan students

28 May 2014

Faye Morton and Victoria Hepworth

Big names from the media industry were among star speakers at the journalism and careers event

An Oscar-nominated film director, the head of BBC North West and Sky’s Senior Digital Producer were among the speakers at a specialist careers event at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

Among the highlights at the School of Journalism and Media’s careers day (cJAM) was a live pitching session which resulted in 45 placements being awarded to students who impressed with their talent and ideas.

More than 150 students from across the School attended the event, including film producers, web designers, scriptwriters, photographers and journalists.

Held in the Media Innovation Studio, this is the second year the School has invited employers, many of which are UCLan alumni, to spend the day with the next generation of media talent.

It was re-branded as cJAM to reflect a careers event which brought in the new title of the School – Journalism and Media.

More than 20 employers and alumni, including the Oscar-nominated film director Mark Gill, offered invaluable advice and industry insights for hopeful media professionals across all years of study.

“This course has a really excellent reputation and I’ve met some really amazing students today.”

The keynote speaker was Aziz Rashid, Head of BBC News North West at Media City. He praised the event, describing it as “fantastic” and said he’d particularly enjoyed the session where journalism students pitched ideas for programmes to him.

He commented: “This course has a really excellent reputation and I’ve met some really amazing students today. I was ‘pitched’ to by 12 of them and after about five minutes I knew at least six of them were going to work in journalism. They’re brilliant.

“I really enjoyed the event. It’s brilliant how you bring back people who used to be students here and who tell your students what it’s like to get a job in journalism, how difficult it can be but actually how they have to keep going and what to do when you get those first few jobs, those baby steps you have to take. I think that’s fantastic experience for any journalism student.”

Guests also acted as talent scouts, with many offering placements to students who could compete for the opportunities with innovative pitches.

Martin O’Boyle, Lead Editor at FIFA.com, had five placements up for grabs with successful students winning experience during the World Cup.

Award-winning ITV News Programme Editor Richard Frediani, who was one of the guest speakers, headed to Twitter after the event to praise students: “Enjoyed meeting so many talented students today at the @UCLan #cJAM event in Preston. Good luck to all.”

“Setbacks do happen but they do happen for a reason. Just don’t give up.”

Visually impaired student Mohammed Salim Patel took to the stage to show that anything is possible in life. He has recently enjoyed a work placement at BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme. Programme Editor Chas Watkin invited him along to spend the day with the programme team and to shadow presenter Peter White, who is also visually impaired.

Aged 19, Salim is in the second year of his BA International Journalism degree. His online profile is ‘The Blind Journalist’ and he lets nothing stand in the way of his dream. Students and alumni alike were left inspired by his concluding words: “I may be blind, but I have a vision and so do you.”

Former student Nafisa Sayani composed an interesting show reel detailing her transition from student to BBC broadcast journalist. With a humorous message to listen to the advice of certain university lecturers, students appreciated her honesty in admitting that breaking into the industry is a difficult, yet rewarding process.

She told students: “Setbacks do happen but they do happen for a reason. Just don’t give up.”

Not everyone could make the journey to sunny Preston, however. Determined not to miss out on the careers event, Danny Lee took to Skype for a live conference call, all the way from Hong Kong. The News Reporter for Hong Kong News Desk and South China Morning Post sent his advice from 6,000 miles away, which made an for an interesting watch.

He said: “Get as much experience as you can, it really goes to show that you have passion and enthusiasm.”

The advice on offer ranged from the simplistic principle of dressing appropriately for interviews all the way to sculpting a CV worthy of standing out from the crowd.

Students were given the chance to network with no fewer than 21 industry professionals including: Richard Evans, Senior Digital Producer at Sky News, Andy Halls, showbiz reporter at The Sun, John Clayton, Managing Director at BBC Radio Lancashire, and many other media faces.