Graduation – it’s a time to celebrate our academic achievements, reflect on the past and awkwardly smile as we take a step to an unpredictable future. Yesterday, along with my 40 other friends from around the world, I just did that.
During the commencement speech, speakers resonated similar sentiments: they commended for our efforts, congratulated on our success and then consoled us that we all would do great, get jobs and make a difference in the real world.
But before making a real difference, at this very moment, we are trying to make ourselves noticed. It’s strange that despite our skills, abilities and the academic records, a majority of us – all international students – are not being able to get a call back for an interview; landing a job seems like a distant dream.
The job market is competitive and constantly changing: it requires us to have skills that is a rarity, be among the best of the best. And in our own ways we all are. Though we are competing against each other, we bring in a unique set of skills with us. We have our strengths, and we know that we can make a difference.
So we have focused on those skills and started to capitalize on them: One friend is starting a website, the other is using his multi-language skills to translate, another is using his web skills to freelance. And s for me, I’m hunting stories, pitching them like crazy – with fewer approvals – and reporting, which I have always longed. The only difference now is that I care less about the medium for I can work on multiple platforms now.
And graduate school has really come to be helpful for that reason. It has transformed me from a purely print reporter to a multimedia man.
The projects were daunting and the deadlines persistent – from producing a radio news report in about two hours from scratch for the hourly newscast to finishing a two-minute video for the 4 O’ clock student broadcast, I proved myself wrong that I was technologically inept. The group website that we handled collectively, my individual portfolio site and a final solo multimedia project have only made me more comfortable with multimedia.
For me, I would say graduate school has been a training ground. And being in London, I have made the best out of it.
I have written from local news to international political protests, produced videos on social issues, interviewed music bands as a part of radio interview and blogged about travel, lifestyle and fashion.
As I reflect on my time at the university and life in London, I don’t think I have much to complain.
Today, I graduate not as a journalism student but as a multimedia journalist with an ability to write, report and get the stories.
I do realize that it’s difficult to break into big media companies or even get a full-time job at a small publishing house. But it wouldn’t deter me and of course my fellow graduates, from doing what we do best. And I’m glad that we’ve become leaders in our own ways, focusing on our strengths and banking on the small and big opportunities in London and our home countries.
And that’s what it’s all about – the degree that we have endorses our skills and abilities, but at the end of the day, we have to make it work for ourselves. Graduate school never promised us with jobs but only prepared us to be what we envisioned ourselves to be. For some, it is the morning show host, for some it’s the radio presenter job, and even a communications job at a fashion house. Slowly but steadily, we are getting there. We will get there.
To all my fellow classmates and friends, we did it. and I’m sure we will do our best in the coming days.
Congratulations. Cheers, to the University of Westminster Postgraduate Journalism Class of 2012.