Finding that elusive first rung on the job ladder

Whatever field you aspire to work in it is very often a tricky proposition to get that break and secure your first job offer.

The sports journalism industry is no different in that respects and in an increasingly competitive market it is vital to try and differentiate yourself from the thousands of other people.

My journey to find employment in the industry started over two years ago when I secured a place on the Sports Journalism course at the University of Central Lancashire.

UCLan’s Sports Journalism course is accredited by the Broadcast Journalism Training Council. Photo credit: begstealborrowfilms.com.

This was really exciting news because it was the first crucial stepping stone which would lead on to plenty of great opportunities.

The university’s facilities are rated as excellent and the course has strong relationships with various sports and media organizations for example the BBC, Preston North End FC and Wigan Warriors. This filled me with a lot of hope ahead of my first semester.

During my first year I volunteered as a reporter for the university’s radio station covering the men’s hockey first team. I attended their home and away matches providing updates on key events. After each match I also wrote a report for the student newspaper’s website.

I was really grateful to be given this opportunity at the start of my university course. I was able to sample experience of both broadcast and print media whilst developing a variety of skills like time-management, research and working as part of a team.

Alongside my second year I was given another invaluable opportunity when I started helping out with Chorley FC’s media department.

I spent the whole season covering home and away matches providing live updates on the club’s Twitter account which has 15,000 followers, as well as writing match reports for the website and club programme.

I covered Chorley’s win against Lancaster City in the Lancashire Challenge Trophy final. Photo credit: boltoncentral.co.uk

As well as gaining invaluable experience in online media, I also got to sample a variety of press boxes including the one at Bolton Wanderers’ Macron Stadium which was a proud moment for myself.

At the end of my second year I decided it was time to try and diversify, because there are quite a lot of students who want to work in football. I felt like if I could gain some experience in another sport it would set me apart.

Initially I heard that British Ice Hockey were looking for people to help contribute, so I enquired but unfortunately I didn’t have the adequate experience.

Determined to broaden my horizons I asked if there were any other sports I could help write about and as it happened Love Rugby League belonged to the same company РJDG Media.

I contacted the editor, John Davidson, and was instantly given the opportunity to cover some rugby league matches on TV and write reports.

In the next few months I built up a vast amount of contacts and also provided a variety of content from in-depth features to match previews.

Looking back one of the best moments was receiving accreditation to cover the 2016 Four Nations final at Anfield Stadium. The ground is a spectacular venue and the media facilities are world class, so it was an amazing opportunity and one which I will remember for a long time.

JDG Media’s clients include sports governing bodies, professional sports clubs and marketing agencies. Photo credit: www.jdgsport.com

As part of my third and final year at university I needed to spend a week on placement and so I thought it would be a great opportunity to come to the JDG Media offices and meet the team.

Before I arrived I was keen to be given the chance to contribute and help out with a number of activities, including continuing to help provide content for LRL.

If I can further develop my list of contacts that would be another positive during my time on placement.

Looking ahead, when I finish university in a few months I would like to freelance for a sports website or the sports section of a newspaper.

I know freelance jobs are tricky to come by when first starting out, but I am keen to take my time and make sure my first position is one which I enjoy and offers the right working environment.

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