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Amrit Chahal

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your current career 

I completed my undergraduate degree, with a First Class Degree in Journalism with a Year in Industry at Barnsley Council as a Communications and Marketing Assistant. I was fortunate to gain a variety of work experience whilst balancing my studies, such as working at global sports streaming service DAZN as a video producer and a junior researcher at BBC Inside Out. 

Upon graduating, I secured a position as a Communications Assistant with the University of Leeds, working across Internal Communications and Media Relations. My work involves issuing weekly newsletters, organising media enquiries, writing copy for websites and social media, and more. 

How do you think the skills and knowledge you developed at Leeds helped with your career success? 

I certainly enhanced my skills in copywriting during my years of studying. Learning how to write online articles and for different audiences has helped the quality of my work in Communications. I believe I have a better sense of news due to my degree in Journalism and know what is important to communicate to your target audience.  

My degree helped me improve my confidence in public speaking, due to participating in interviews with experts for news articles, whilst also developing my people skills. My Year in Industry certainly helped me to appreciate life at work and provided me with a great stepping-stone to propel my career, particularly within communications. 

What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds? 

I have always had an interest in media and the world of news. My preference of study made me lean towards journalism ever since my first taste of the industry during my A-Levels, when I was lucky enough to spend two weeks doing work experience for Radio Yorkshire. 

The busy and exciting nature of the work really fueled my passion to pursue a career in the media, and after learning about the School of Media and Communication’s reputation and loving the University campus when I came to visit, I was eager to apply! 

The Access to Leeds Scheme was something that appealed to me due to the inclusivity of helping individuals from less privileged backgrounds, like myself, to attain a position at a Russell Group University like Leeds. Access to Leeds ultimately allowed me to have a bit of breathing space when receiving my A-Level results, something I was grateful for. 

What aspects of the course did you enjoy the most? 

I liked the mix of theory and practical work on the course. For example, I wrote essays on interesting media debates whilst also learning how to use high-tech camera equipment and editing software. I found the choice of choosing modules to be quite freeing and my favourite module over the course of my degree was promotional Culture.  

I prefer working on long-term written assessments, rather than sitting exams. I think it allows you to dig deeper into topics of interest and put forward coherent arguments. I found the Promotional Culture module to be extremely intriguing, learning about the history of advertising, PR and marketing whilst making links to modern examples. 

The opportunity to create a final year project and have creative autonomy was something I really enjoyed about my course. I was able to create a 10-minute mini-documentary on a topic of my choosing, and therefore pursue my personal passion of sports, producing a piece on the Indian sport of Kabaddi. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of interviewing contributors, editing live and archival footage of the sport, narrating with my own script, and presenting during training sessions. 

Finally, as part of your 2nd year as a Journalism student at Leeds, the School of Media and Communication helps you gain at least three weeks of work experience at relevant workplaces. I was able to spend two weeks as a researcher with BBC Inside Out and a further two weeks working with an independent TV production company in Manchester. This certainly helped to bolster my experience and CV for future employment and allowed me to reflect on whether those experiences and potential roles are what I wanted to pursue further once I graduated. 

What would you say about the learning and the support facilities in your School and at the University in general? 

The support available to students at the School of Media and Communication is second to none, particularly because of the effective communication between lecturer and student. I have always felt confident in being able to visit any of my lecturers or email them, knowing I will get a supportive and prompt response back. I would also like to stress the great support available at the University’s Careers Service. Their informative mock interviews and the application advice provided by the team prior to my job applications were extremely useful, the staff also encouraged preparation before job interviews. The Careers Advisor who subsequently supported me during the application process of my current role as a Communications Assistant at the University of Leeds was fantastic, I would like to thank them for all of their help. 

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course? 

I would say to go for it! I don’t regret a minute of my time as a Journalism student, and it gave me invaluable skills that I have been able to translate to a work setting, which I don’t believe other degrees necessarily do. Not only do you gain experience as a multifaceted journalist, able to tackle challenges for any medium and audience group, you also learn about the history of media and communication and how this applies to many modern debates about the role of news outlets, communication agencies, marketing firms, and more. I also believe my course allows you to be creative and allows for artistic freedom, particularly for your final year project.