Why my time at uni is important to me

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Graduation, university, student life, Lauren Maskrey, Kettle Mag
Image: MaxPixel/Creative Commons licence
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It is always daunting going to somewhere new and I was unsure of what to expect once I was offered a place at Staffordshire University studying Journalism. I still lived at home, so I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to mix with people because most of them lived on campus. How wrong could I have been? A tip from me would be to try and connect with people on your course before your first day. This really helped me, as I managed to find a couple of girls on my course on Twitter and we agreed to meet up on the first day.

I’ll never forget that first day when I was sat next to my new friend Amy (who is still a close friend to this day) and we made conversation about our families, my dog and dancing. It was great to have someone there to talk to and she put my mind at ease, which made the ‘ice breaker’ tasks a little easier. Forgive me for not being able to remember much about the first year (not alcohol inflicted), but it just seems like a decade ago.

All I can say is that the first year flew by! I was doing shorthand for the first time, taking exams and learning how to write in a completely new style. I probably did quite a lot of moaning in that first year, mainly about the 9am starts from Monday to Friday, and how I just couldn’t get that 100 words per minute. I must apologise to my family and boyfriend for this, as they probably got the brunt of my bad moods! Despite all of this, I really felt like I belonged on the course and I knew that everything I was learning, was going to help me to get to where I want to be.

 I couldn’t talk about the first year without mentioning my lovely friends, who I have gone  through these last three years with. There’s so many reasons why I love our little friendship  group, but I think the main one is that we are all so different yet have so much in common.

We each have our own quirks and personalities that help to shape our hilarious, fun and  crazy group. Special mention here goes to my favourite ‘old lady’ and best friend. Without  Gemma, these last three years would have been incredibly dull and I would have missed out  on having someone to rant and rave to about everything. We both know that we are basically  twins now (deal with it Gem).

A big highlight of second year was that I finally managed to achieve 100 words per minute shorthand and I passed a couple of the NCTJ exams. Another tip if you’re in this position yourself at the moment, revise hard for the exams and make sure that you practice your shorthand every day.

Eye opening and life changing

Seeing the word ‘pass’ next to your name is one of the best feelings ever, so try your best because it really does pay off. Second year marked the start of our news days, which involved becoming a professional reporter at our university’s website ‘StaffsLive’. Getting this experience early on in my degree, really helped me to grasp the way that news stories are written and how I can get the best out of a story. Since then, I have worked on numerous stories, interviewed lots of different people, been to some cool events and even had a couple of stories published in local newspapers.

As we all know, the third year of a degree is when the pressure really kicks in. With months of university left, it was time for me to decide what I wanted to do for my final project. I was really happy to be able to base it around a topic that is very close to my heart and something which I knew a bit about.

Third year also gave me the opportunity to carry out a work experience placement. This is great as it helps you to get a taster of what it is like to work in this area and how challenging it can sometimes be. With just weeks to go until I hand in my final pieces of work, I am now knuckling down and putting in the most effort that I can.

Throughout university I have been lucky enough to learn about topics such as ethics, court reporting, public relations, magazines and the history of journalism. I’ve had a first-hand look at what it is like to work as a journalist and this has helped me to realise that I want to pursue it further after I graduate.

The last three years have been eye-opening and life changing in so many ways. Obviously there has been times when it has been challenging, but not once have I ever felt like I wanted to quit. To help me to get through all of the upcoming work and revision, I am looking forward to the annual Journalism party and of course graduating in front of those I love the most. But, whatever the outcome is on results day I will be proud of how far I have come and how university has helped to shape me into the person I am today.

If you’re debating about going university, just do it! You really won’t regret it, because it gives you the experience and knowledge to get the best out of any career that you choose.

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