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BA (Hons)


Getting you ready for life after Solent You’re all but out the door. Your race is run. You’ve been here, you’ve done it, and you’ve got the Carnage t-shirts to prove it. Your final days at Solent are looming, and our final challenge is to prepare you for life in industry, where dead-

ines mean pounds, not marks. That’s why we’ve put together this nifty little booklet. With us no more than a click or two away, you’ll never be far from a helping hand...

More inside >>

What’s inside? Employability Job Hunting Portfolios Alumni Advice 1

Contents ONE What’s Inside?


Contents Andy’s Letter Internships

THREE Dissertations Charlie Bond


Work Experience Matt Lanyon


Ricky Boleto

SIX Portfolios Pitching Mel Dixon

SEVEN Further Study Social Media Tom Tainton


Reading List Jack Hannaway


So Long!

It’s almost time to say goodbye. It’s going to be emotional, but let us offer you this last piece of guidance before you head out into industry... So... Where are you now? And what are you going to do next? When you set out in your journey to graduate from the journalism degree at Solent, what did you want it to give you? You may have wanted to become a news writer, newsreader, reporter, feature writer or a radio presenter. Or your dreams may have changed dramatically after what you’ve been taught. The big question is - do you realise just how close you are to achieving your goal? Look back at the real skills you’ve been taught along the way. News gathering, story telling, video editing, radio producing, writing for newspapers and magazines. Then there’s law, ethics, multimedia and reporting government. If you want to go another way, the skills we’ve

nurtured are transferable into almost any other industry. From your degree at Solent, you will become one of the most employable university graduates in the UK. And remember this. As a journalist, YOU can make a difference. We’ve given you that all important ‘foot in the door’. To

take the next step, all you need to do is give that door a big push. In the meantime, here are a few stories to inspire you. Make us proud! Andy Ford Course Leader, BA (Hons) Journalism

Fancy Working For SSU? Marry up Postgraduate study with a whole year of experience by taking on one of our internal positions. Over the last few years, this course has contributed plenty of interns to the Solent cause. From employability to alumni relations, what we’ve taught you puts you in a very good position when it come to applying. There are 25 full-time internships open within the univer-

sity, and so many more available if you take up one of our external placements. By staying internal, you’d get a salary, plenty of work for your portfolio, a year of experience, and even an MA, just to top it all off. When the year’s up, your CV will be full to overflowing. Keep an eye out on Graduate Jobs South for more information about the wonderful internships that only Solent Students can access.

Don’t Forget About Your Dissertation and Major Project After 10,000 words, weekly breakdowns and an unhealthy chocolate intake, the best thing for your dissertation is a bookcase, right? WRONG! Dissertations and Major Projects are one of the most personal pieces of work you can do as an undergraduate. So

why would you chuck it all away after the hand-in? In the past, we’ve had students get jobs based on their subjects. If you’ve looked into online journalism and social media, take your work along to an interview. It’ll show your knowledge of the area and, combined with your overall

degree, make you the ideal candidate to fill online roles. Who knows, you could even change the way your future employers operate! In his Guardian blog, Nathan Minnighan has emphasised the value of dissertations in improving your employability. He says he has “been led to

believe, by my own dissertation supervisor, that a well-researched piece of “quantitative analysis” shows commitment, perseverance, self motivation, independent study, initiative and critical thinking - all the essential elements to establishing your competency as a viable candidate for any graduate position?”

Alumni: Charlie Bond

2011 graduate Charlie Bond secured a job at Bliss Magazine before the Summer had even started. She spoke to us about her time at Solent, and what she’s been up to since she left... Although I studied a degree in Journalism, I wasn’t sure that I actually wanted to be a journalist. But I am, and I love it. After finishing at Solent I got an internship at Bliss magazine, which turned into a job on the website as the Online Assistant. No day in my job is the same. Some days I’m off meeting celebs (my fifteen year old self still comes out occasionally…especially when boybands are involved), and some days I’m writing news stories, making up quizzes and pitching ideas for features. It definitely never gets boring, and gives me some great stories to tell my friends! My journalism degree definitely prepared me for my job because there was so many practical

elements to it. Throughout the course we made magazines, learned interviewing skills, were taught how the magazine industry worked, had to use software like Photoshop

My journalism degree prepared me for my job because there were so many practical elements to it... and InDesign, and regularly wrote features and pitched ideas. Sometimes we would learn something, and I’d wonder how relevant it would be to me in a job after leaving- a bit like how you always used to question when you’d ever

need Pythagoras’ Theorem after your maths GCSE, but I can honestly say that the course really did prepare me for the real working world of journalism. The great thing about the journalism course is that they teach you a real range of skills, which could be applied to a wide range of jobs. I may have hated using InDesign when I had to for assignments, but eventually I got to grips with it! I don’t use it in my job now, but if I ever wanted to go or a sub-editing position, I know I’d need to be fluent with software like that, so the fact that I developed so many transferrable skills at Solent has not only helped with my current job, they’ll be with me for the whole of my career. (Once I give up stalking boybands, that is!)

Challenge Charlie Part of Charlie’s success at Solent was down to her unique blog, Challange Charlie. Each week she invited the public to set her challenges, which she then had to blog about. Having originality and a likeable writing style are invaluable assets for journalism graduates.


How to sell your work experience When it comes to your CV, your experience needs to be more than just a list of names... Work experience is creeping into a lot of courses. You’ll already know from your placements that most compaines have a regular ‘workie’ in the office, to keep things ticking over. So what does this mean for the value of it? Well, it changes nothing. Experience is experience. What does matter is how you sell your experience to potential employers. The STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) approach allows you to make the most of your placements. It stops the company becoming another name on your CV and it helps employers appreciate just how valuable you are. You’ve already done the hard work, all that’s left for you to do is turn the points below into a neat 30-word synopsis for your CV. Situation What was happening? Why were you given the task? Task What were you asked to do? Action How did you approach the task? What was unique about how you performed it? Result What did your task acheive? How did you approach t the task make it more successful than it would hve otherwise been?


Newsround’s Ricky Boleto left Solent in 2006 with his journalism degree. Since then he’s continued his success by becoming one of the faces of kid’s news. This interview was originally featured in our very own I-on-Solent in February 2011... Since forever I knew I wanted to work in TV and radio. I’ve always loved finding things out and being the first to know. At school, I enjoyed sharing stories with my mates and passing on new bits of information – I think the essence of being a journalist has always been there. The practical side of the course I studied was priceless. I spent most of my time running around Southampton trying to find a news story (there’s only so many times you can do a report on the German Christmas Market or litter problems n the city centre!) I certainly wasn’t an A* student. Even though I worked pretty hard,

also played pretty darn hard, too. Parts of my second year are still lost somewhere inn the back of my mind! By the start of second year, I realised the end of university was fast approaching. I got on the phone, I emailed and I even used the traditional method of writing a few letters to newsrooms right across the country. I didn’t care if it was a small regional somewhere or a radio station – I just wanted a job. The best advice I can give someone who is about to start work experience is to join an office with new ideas, interesting treatments for stories and a positive approach to working. If the reporters want a cup of

tea, run along and get it… but make sure when you return you slip in an idea for a story or maybe even tell a joke. During the last year of my BA (hons) Journalism course I got a three week placemen at Five News, which is now part of Sky News. While I was still as university, desperately trying to complete my dissertation, I was offered a job at Five. I snapped it up straight away and never looked back. After a couple of years at Five News as a researcher and a website producer, my then editor decided I should be doing some on screen reporting and presenting. I became Five’s youngest ever presenter at the age of 21 and eventually that led me onto bigger things at the BBC, working for the long-running children’s news programme Newsround.

Matt Lanyon - Taking On The Dark Side of PR Your degree lends itself to more than one career, you know...

Even though I changed my career path after leaving Solent, the variety of skills I learned on the journalism course have still proved valuable. Communication and writing skills are important in all jobs, especially in PR, and despite the differences within journalism I’m still able to apply a lot of

my degree to the job. It helped that I was being taught by practitioners who still had their place in industry - the course was industry focussed and up to date. I appreciated the way skills were built upon, from learning the basics in my first year to fine tuning my writing as the degree came to an end. The intellectual stimulation the course provided has also set me up to

I was being taught by practitioners... the course was industry focussed and up-to-date. cope with the demands on MA study, which I am undertaking alongside my employment.

Ricky Boleto

Where To Find Opportunities It can be hard to know where to look for jobs. There are so many opportunities out there for you, keeping track of them all can be so difficult. Even as I’m writing this, I’m keeping an eye on jobs feeds. Of course, I’ve got the obvious choices - GJS, Guardian Jobs and, but there are plenty of opportunities out there have have fallen through the grasp of these juggernauts. If you’re curious about what lies in all the nooks and crannys of the Internet, get yourself signed up to the following sites. You never know what might be on offer... Gorkana Jobs This one’s a biggie if you know it’s there. If you didn’t, you’re going to need to make a note of the name. With that many vowels, it’s strain to remember, but the feast of jobs on there (228 as I’m writing) is a nice reward for you.

It felt really vibrant, a lot of people were busy wanting to get on with their careers… It felt like you were part of a university where you knew you were going to achieve something.”

Pathfinders This site specialises in media recruitment, with an emphasis on getting work experience. Sign up to it to get regular updates about opportunites in a variety of fields and locations. Graduate Milkround Okay, it’s another recruitment site. But as the name suggests. it’s just for graduates. You’ll find training schemes and internships aplety on here. If you sign up, that is...


Making Your Portfolio Work

The Elevator Pitch

A quick Google search about portfolios can turn into a dauting traul through plenty of pointless pages. To save you some trouble, we’ve gone through and pulled out the best bits.

Freelancing can have its ups and downs. That’s an awful pun, but it’s true. Some months you can be inundated with briefs, some you’ve got next to nothing. But how can you make the former happen more frequently?

Hard Copy vs Online With everything moving online, it can be hard to know where to fraw the line. Our advice is to have both. Designs can look different on a screen, so show yourself at your best by keeping a hard copy handy to back up your online site.

Length Limit your pitch to 30 seconds. You’ll bypass the listener’s boredom, and showcase your abilities as an articulate individual

Keep it relevant According to, the key is to keep it strong. If you’re a writer, don’t clog a portfolio with lots of photos, regardless of how good they are. Play to your strengths, and make your strengths the focus of your portfolio. Know Your Audience Once again, has provided this nugget. Your site needs to do more than just say who you are - it needs to tell people WHY they need you. It’s not enough to have hits, you’ve got to know what visitors want, and you’ve got to give it to them.


The elevator pitch is a technique that optimises the effectiveness of your pitch. It bases itself on the amount of time you’d spend in a lift with clients. It places an emphasis on brevity, being concise and being unique. If you’ve read this from cover to cover, you’ll have noticed the word ‘unique’ cropping up at regular intervals. There’s a reason for this – if what you offer is of the generic, cookiecutter, insert-name-here variety, your client list will be stunted at best. So, how can you go all the way to the top floor (another poor elevator joke – I’m insatia-

ble.)? I turned to for answers…

Tag Lines Having a mantra or slogan is okay provided it isn’t cheesy. You don’t want to turn yourself into a gimmick. You need to make it stick, without making your client sick. Stick to the Facts If someone’s going to shell out for your ser-

vices, they’re going to want a quantifiable outcome. Focus less on describing what you do, and more on how much of a benefit you’ve given others. If you’ve got the numbers, they need to be in there. Avoid Jargon If you’re offering a NIB service incorporating HTML and VoxPops ASAP, you’re not going to last. Save the jargon

for meetings – your elevator message needs to be concise, simple and clear. Be unique There’s that word again. You need to show that your approach to the client’s problem is unique, and more successful as a result. This should be the biggest chunk of your speech, to really hit your individuality home.

Alumni: Freelance Writer Mel Dixon A bit of a slacker... Those words could have been used to describe me when I joined Solent University in 2004. It may have been a little harsh, but what was true is that I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a living and I didn’t try particularly hard to find out. Nonetheless, I chose to study journalism on the shaky basis that I enjoyed writing. It turned out to be a good decision. Perhaps the most important

legacy of my time at university wasn’t the practical journalistic skills I picked up – though they were essential for me to become a professional writer – but the way it instilled within me a real interest in ‘things.’ I started to read ‘proper’ newspapers, watch ‘worthy’ television programmes and was transformed into a more inquisitive human being. things have their drawbacks... Studying journalism beyond

the nuts and bolts of news reportage enabled me to understand the bigger picture of how the media works. For this reason, today’s journalist - more than ever before - requires a rounded education that gives them the practical expertise to work in the field, as well as the critical eye to understand what’s really going on around them. And that’s exactly what Solent offers.

Alumni: Tom Tainton

Tom Tainton turned his degree into a role as media manager for Bristol Rugby Club. Here’s what he had to say...


y three years s t u d y i n g journalism at Southampton Solent taught me two things: Never turn down an opportunity and keep in touch with contacts that you make. Since starting the course in 2007, I tried my hand as

a magazine editor, a web designer, a news reporter, a cameraman, a radio presenter and a sports reporter. As well as mastering the likes of Photoshop, Indesign and Quark – I developed an in-depth knowledge of Final Cut Pro and Adobe Audition – software that I rely upon in my current role as a Media Manager at Bristol Rugby Club. My job requires me to interact with members of national and local media on a regular basis, as well as writing press releases,

planning and executing press conferences and interacting with our customers via social media platforms. Without my degree, I wouldn’t have stood a chance. Learning how to communicate effectively and how to write tight copy is not an easy skill. Studying Journalism (BA) hons at Southampton Solent University awarded me with opportunities that every fresh-faced journalist dreams about. In my time as an undergraduate, thanks largely to the course and it’s lecturers, I reported from business conventions in Paris and London, freelanced in newsrooms across the UK including the BBC, The Guardian, The Independent and Sky Sports News, worked as a production assistant for Sky News on election night and, at the end of a whirlwind three years, I found myself in Sydney, Australia working for Infostrada Sports.

How About Further Study?

You’re never too old to learn. If you want to set yourself apart from the competition, why not stay on and do some postgraduate study? You can specialise and ehnance with an MA, or even prepare yourself for teaching by doing a PGCE. There are plenty of places to do such courses - Solent included, and you can use this as a chance to become a specialist in one area. It’s not for everyone, but it might be for you!

Be More Than Just A Profile There was no way we could avoid writing about social media. Llke it or not, it’s everywhere. Far from just having a presence on LinkedIn and Twitter, you can optimise the effectiveness of such sites by using a few simpe tools. LinkedIn Groups There are dozens of groups to join on LinkedIn that are specific to your trade. Even the smallest contribution to a conversation - be it an introduction or an opinion will create a dialogue between you and so many people, one of whom may be your most important contact. Twitter Lists By switching to Tweetdeck instead of the original Twitter sites, you can programme a constant search tools that will alert you to ANY tweet that mentions your search terms. From just learning more about a topic to finding an employer or client, this search tool takes away hours of scrolling. You can also use this tool to find out who has influence on certain topics, and what they might want from you. Wordpress Dashboards For the bloggers out there, you can use your Wordpress home page as a rolling news archive for the blogosphere. Search for any topic and WP will dig out the most recent posts that fit. You can use this to your advantage - by knowing what the enging searches for, you can edit your tags to attract more readers and enhance your reputation.


Alumni: Jack Hannaway

Having studied Journalism for three years at Southampton Solent University (BA Hons) I decided to look into the current internship programmes Solent were running in order to improve my employability for the future. I looked at a range of internships that would best suit my skills and found that ‘Web Content Developer’ would be the perfect title for me. I am incredibly interested in new

technologies and new virtual platforms and as a Web content Developer I have the opportunity to refine my skills and learn new applications on a daily basis. As well as working full time I am also studying for a Masters in Multimedia Journalism to greater my knowledge in media related journalism, such as filming, editing, presenting etc as well as learning the theoretical practice involved in

the industry. I feel I have built up a very credible CV whilst studying at Solent, my course has helped me decide exactly what I want to do when I leave University and has also provided me with enough skills to pursue areas that provide me with a plan B and C option if I am unable to venture into the field of Multimedia Journalism. My advice to anyone after finishing University is to not give up on learning, You may not realise it yet but University has given you the skills to research, work under pressure and in most cases lead an independent life. Resources like these are vital throughout your life and are crucial in business, whether you work in a creative or financial sector.

Watching Your Web Shadow

We couldn’t resist giving you one last reading list. it’s a short list - just the one book - but when it comes to social media, Antony Mayfield has made a career out of telling people what works. It’s just under a tenner on Amazon, or you can download the first chapter for free at



% Of employers say they use social media to find out more about applicants, 2011



BA (Hons) Journalism  

Celebrating graduates successes and employability on behalf of the BA (hons) Journalism course at Solent University