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Sunday, March 01, 2015

How the blog seed was planted

As a young child, I was always a talker and once I could read and write, there was no stopping me, so perhaps a career in journalism was always going to be my destiny. 

Now, I know that being a journalist might not sound all that exciting or ground breaking, but you'd be surprised - you really would; in my time, I've gotten to do some pretty cool things and speak to some amazing people. 

I didn't always know that I wanted to be a writer and in school, I was equally divided between pursuing a career as a barrister or studying English, simply because I liked reading and writing. 

If I was to give any young person a bit of advice about their career choice, it would be to think about what they like and not about what will end with a job offer. 

If you are passionate enough about something, you will make a career happen, but if you choose to do something because of the wage packet, you won't be happy or fulfilled and inevitably will end up changing careers later on in life, which can be a tough adjustment. 

From my experience, it's quite alright being an intern or trainee when you're just out of college and in your twenties, but doing that and going back to that formidable 'square one' is much more daunting, when you're in your forties and have a family to support. 

I've just realised that my little tangent there was very relevant, as exam students will have submitted their CAO applications and now have until the summer to change their minds on www.cao.ie - I'm sure that career choice and course possibilities are dominating most dinner table conversations in the country at the moment and there's many a parent fretting and trying to guide their child without telling them what to do. 

Anyway, to get back to my original point, I did a degree in New Media & English in the University of Limerick and by the end of my degree, realised that I had a flair for writing and I also seemed to have a knack for honing in on a unique angle of an essay (something that has stood to me as a journalist with many the article). 

However, by the time I graduated, I still didn't really know what I wanted 'to be', so I decided to do a Masters in Journalism and figured that if I hated it, it would still be an MA under my belt and I could then go on to do a PhD, which would enable me to become an English lecturer in college. 

The MA course was good and very interesting, but an unlikely career path for me, as I was (and still am, to an extent) allergic to watching the news, I cringed at all things related to current affairs and I literally couldn't tell you anything about politics or economics. 

I was, however, very good at chatting to people, getting information on events and seemed to have a talent for making people feel at ease. 

I learned a lot from the course, but the most valuable aspects were the Media Law module and shorthand (I use this all the time and it's so natural that if I'm leaving a note in the house, I almost automatically write it in shorthand - I suppose whenever I do end up doing that, my boyfriend will have a legitimate reason for not getting dinner ready). 

Everything else was ok, but not mind blowing and I've got to say, I think my degree helped me a lot more with the writing side of things. There was also an unrealistic, almost Hollywood-esque focus on investigative journalism, which is interesting and wonderful in an ideal world, but not realistic, because most newspapers don't have the resources to let a journalist work on a big story or something huge, when they could be churning out hundreds of smaller stories in that time. 

As part of the course, I completed a month's work experience in The Evening Echo in Cork (one of the country's largest regional papers) and it was from the first day in that newsroom that I knew I had come home - I had found my place in the world and I loved it. 

From then on, I was hooked and so I used my very small window of time to my advantage, by making sure that by the time I left, I wouldn't just be another student who they forgot about immediately. 

I wanted to be the girl they thought of if a job came up, the person they thought of when a cool feature idea arose and 'the one who got away' to a degree - I didn't half have notions of myself like. 

In a way, my plan worked out and I had my first article published the week I started and boasted an impressive (if I do say so myself) portfolio of work by the end of the month. 

I then made sure that I wouldn't be disappearing into the unknown of graduates with no direction, so I kept in touch with the editors and throughout the summer, while working on my thesis, I did a few freelance articles and even managed to get two parts of my three-part thesis published in the paper.  

The following January, I was offered a nine-month internship with The Evening Echo through the JobBridge scheme (www.jobbridge.ie) and I worked from 8.30am-4.30pm, Monday-Friday for nine months, working on news, politics, features, arts, human interest stories, book reviews and sports (I basically did anything and everything I could in there and there was no job too big or too small). 

In a way, it was hard because I was in a newsroom with journalists who had all been doing this for years and while that could have been intimidating, it was the opposite - without the help and support from the 'Echo lads', as I still fondly call them, there's no way I'd have done so well from that internship. 

I really enjoyed my time there and when it was time to leave, I missed it and I'll admit, I still do (sadly, they weren't in a position to take me on afterwards, but without that opportunity, I would not be at this point in my career now).

Immediately after, like with a day in between to move house (all a bit mental really), I got a job in The Waterford News & Star for nine months on a maternity cover contract and this really strengthened my coverage of court and council reports, before moving to The Avondhu (www.avondhupress.ie) in June of 2012 and I've been there since, writing the news snippets for our readers in North East Cork, South Limerick, South Tipperary and West Waterford. 

Starting a blog is something that I've been toying around with for quite a while and now just seemed like the right time. 

I've always been a writer, whether for work or pleasure, and in the past two years, I've started regularly writing in a journal, so I thought that this might be a good way to build on that and also to boost my own profile and online persona (something that cannot be underestimated in our current world of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest). 

The blog will be a mish-mash of my feverish scribbles, I'll talk about current events and my opinion on them, review books, films and products, as well as local hotels and restaurants and I'll also have different sections dedicated to various areas of interest. 

I will be giving my readers and followers at least one new piece a week and as the blog evolves, I would warmly welcome any feedback or ideas for articles - here's to Quinn's Quandries - let the rants, tangents and random tidbits commence.

5 comments:

  1. I found this very interesting and look forward to reading more, a good start to your blog.

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  2. Love this blog, as a teenager who is very eagar to pursue a job in journalism and photography. Just like you, you are an inspiration and you are so interesting. Thank you.

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    1. What a lovely comment, thank you for taking the time to say what the blog means to you. I just enjoy writing and hopefully people enjoy what I have to say and sometimes they might be able to take a kernel of wisdom from the wild tangents and furious scribbles.

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  3. Age may beget wisdom but wisdom may not respect age

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