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WELCOME EVERYONE! To the final 2018/2019 Wessex Scene Magazine. It’s been a wonderful year for student journalism here at the University of Southampton, and although we’re all sad to be leaving the Scene behind, we know it will have a bright future with no doubt another 82 years and more of ground-breaking student journalism keeping it alive. This magazine issue conveniently focuses on that often dreaded next stage after University – finding employment. For many students, this is one of the most daunting things to consider, and, with all the conflicting advice and guidance on the internet, it can almost feel like an impossible task to graduate into the real world correctly. Here at Wessex Scene, we believe everyone is unique, and so there really isn’t such a thing as the ‘right way’ to adult. Simply because everyone wants different things from their post-university future, so no two futures are the same. The advice and information within these pages is intended to open up your mind to the different career paths that you can possibly choose to pursue after university, but also to remind you that this adulting thing doesn’t have to be so daunting. This is an exciting time, when you get to learn so much more about yourself and the life you want to lead. Embrace all that is about to come, and just remember, what happens immediately after graduation does not determine everything that will follow. This is just the next step on a long path, and you get to pick the pace, the route and the destinations. One last time, Your Editor


SP ORT S EDIT OR dam i an mead en SUB- EDIT OR far i h ah ch oud h u ry SUB- EDIT OR J OAN N E L I S N EY SUB- EDIT OR m e gan h art V P DCI E V I E REI L LY

















F B . C OM / W S C E N E @OF F IC IAL W E S S E X S C E N E 3

My Experience of Postgraduate Study Abroad The United Kingdom attracts a high number of international students every year, from all around the world, and you will find a wide variety of international students in every UK university city. Many international students choose to do postgraduate study here in the UK because it’s an English-speaking country with an excellent highereducation system and hundreds of world-class universities. Coming to the UK to pursue postgraduate study was one of the best decisions of my life. Through my time here, I have explored and experienced a lot of new things, and I have become more independent as a person. With so many graduates looking for jobs, studying abroad gives you the opportunity to stand out from the crowd.




Postgraduate study abroad has a wide range of benefits, which include: Increasing your employability:

It takes courage and confidence to set yourself up in a new country and immerse yourself in a new culture, so employers like to see this on your CV. Your likelihood of getting hired will increase, as you have international study experience. According to the Council for Industry and Higher Education, studying abroad demonstrates your global awareness. Those who study abroad are often more confident and independent, and bring multicultural knowledge to the workplace, making it easier for them to adjust to different people and new teams whilst working in the office.

Brush up your language skills:

Studying abroad can make your language skills much better than many other people from your country. Initially, communication with other people can be a little difficult if they have a different accent, but, within a few months, you will master it and become closer to others. You will build your vocabulary, which will be really useful and helpful in the future, and it will also help build your CV, because employers will understand that you can communicate easily with people from other parts of the world.

Broaden your horizons:

Since coming to the UK six months ago, I have not only involved myself in university societies, but I have also

done a wide range of internships. My last internship was with a law firm in Winchester, and it was the best work experience that I have had to date. Going to their offices twice a month and working with professionals left a huge impact on me. It has helped me to dress more formally according to the requirements of the firm and present myself better in a working environment. Sitting in meetings and working with professionals while pursuing my degree is something I never thought about before, and it’s something that would have never been possible in my own country. I have been exposed to these opportunities because I chose to study abroad, and they have made all the difference in my life.

Accelerating your personal development:

While studying here, I have gained transferable skills, including: project management, research, organisation, networking and teamwork. I have not only become more confident as a person, but the experience has helped me to make some big decisions in my life. I feel all of this is helping me to achieve my dreams, and learn more in the process. Also, from a cultural perspective, living and studying abroad is helping me think more clearly. It has given me a wider perception of my identity, and made me think about where in the world I belong.

Postgraduate study abroad is socially, politically, culturally and intellectually challenging. It has given me a lot of confidence to try and explore new things. I have always been openly welcomed everywhere, at university, on internships or when visiting other places. My Masters has given me a lot of opportunities to develop as a person, which I hope to continue to do more and more in next few months. It has especially helped me to meet new people, not just from the UK but from different countries around the globe, and I have made contacts and friends for life.




LEARNING A LANGUAGE: The Employability Advantage? WORDS BY CAMERON RIDGWAY With foreign language skills increasingly becoming either a desirable or essential quality for employers, developing your language skills could be the key to getting yourself into the world of work. While in many sectors languages are not essential, they are increasingly seen as a transferable skill – and often one which can attract increased salary offers when looking for work. Being able to speak German, Japanese or French has been found to increase the salaries of workers in the US, whilst here in the UK German, Arabic and French were the three best paid languages. The languages which offer the highest salary premiums aren’t necessarily those with the most job opportunities out there, however. While data from job search engine Adzuna found that jobs requiring German (average salary £34,534), Arabic (average salary £34,122) and French (average salary £32,646) were among both the highest paying languages in the UK and those with the most job opportunities available, there were more positions available for languages which paid less than the top ten such as Swedish and Polish. So, while learning Welsh may net you a higher salary (£27,857 on average) – jobs requiring the language may be much more difficult to find compared to other tongues which are spoken more widely. Learning any language can also give you transferable skills which are useful in any line of work – including inter-cultural awareness, communication, confidence and teamwork. There’s much less competition among foreign language speakers here in the UK than in some other European countries as well – as a nation, only 38 per cent of Britons speak a foreign language, compared to 56 per cent of the population on average across Europe as a whole. Languages can also open up opportunities in the workplace which are not available to those who only speak English – such as the opportunity to travel as part of your job and attend events taking place overseas. You also have many more opportunities to find a permanent job in another country, either for a few years or a longer period of time. Data released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency in 2017 shows that out of


those who graduated from full or part time degrees at UK institutions in 2015-16, 7,165 of the 281,750 graduates that year went to work abroad in 89% of the nations around the world in the first six months after finishing their degrees. Destinations close to home such as France (the most popular country among those working abroad), and Spain attracted most of those who went to work abroad, but many also went further afield – including to China. It’s worth noting that there are more opportunities for working abroad in some sectors than others – 34.3% of those who found employment abroad graduated from STEM degrees, though that doesn’t mean that your chosen degree should restrict where you can go and what you can do. University is one of the best times to pick up a language due to the opportunities that are on offer. Here at Southampton, you can sign up for one of the free Language Opportunity Courses at either Avenue Campus or Winchester School of Art, choose to study a language as a minor or an elective alongside many degree combinations, or if you’ve previously learnt a language but need to start practising again to bring yourself up to speed you can attend the weekly Language Exchange events. If you are about to graduate or are too busy to attend any of the events taking place on campus, it isn’t too late – you can download an app such as Duolingo and learn at your own pace as and when you have the time. There are also several language schools and initiatives which will enable you to go abroad during the holidays to learn in a country where the target language is spoken – either at a language school or as part of a work opportunity such as au pairing. Regardless of your skill level, taking the time to learn a foreign language will be something unique for your CV that will help you stand out in an increasingly crowded jobs market.







Is Trump a nd t he cu r r e nt U S ad m i n i str ati o n a th r eat to j ourna lism? I think Trump would say he hopes he is a threat to journalism. Politicians down the ages have sought to communicate directly with the electorate without us mediating it. Politicians have always been frustrated that the media gets in the way. They want to be able to write their own message, they want to be able to say that they are brilliant and visionary, they are far-thinking and they are wonderful human beings, and that they can see the future. Donald Trump is not unique in wanting to do that, but I do think he is unique in that he has the means to do that. Trump can shortcut the media quite a lot, and Fake News, I’m afraid has become, even though Donald Trump has 8

told a fair few stories that are not true, just straightforward lies. I think it is our job to point out falsehood. Our job is to test people’s arguments, and hopefully lead to a better informed electorate. If media start taking shortcuts over truth, then people will think we are no different from Fake News. H o w c an j ou rnal i s ts c op e i n thi s fake news era? What sh ou l d news c orp orati ons do to c ombat thes e fake news o u tl ets and res tore tru s t? I work for the BBC, and so you’d expect me to say this – and it’s what I said to Donald Trump at that famous news conference – we’ve got to be fair. We’re free from government interference, we’re fair, balanced, and EMPLOYABILITY MAGAZINE



impartial. I don’t have a dog in the fight, I’m there to report. I think that we have to be more scrupulous about that than ever. What worries me about the US media landscape at the moment is that a lot of organisations see it as a way of making money. I think that, at the moment, the media have got to be very cautious about going down that road. H av e you fe lt t hr e at e ne d at al l yo u r sel f by th e in cre a singly ne gat i v e r he t or i c to war d s j o u r n al i sts? There is a nastier environment now, and it is unpleasant. I’ve got Trump people saying ‘you are so Anti-Trump, you’re the liberal media’, and I’ve got Democrats saying ‘you totally get it wrong’. Some people use that as a definition of getting it right. If both sides hate you, then you’re getting it right. I don’t use that as a definition – but it is just the nastiness. Do you think t hi s ne gat i v i t y i s d eter r i n g p eo p l e f r o m pur suing a ca r e e r i n t he fi e l d o f j o u r n al i sm ? I think that people will go into journalism if they feel the motivation. I thought you were going to ask me a different question there – which was do you think its discouraging people from going into public life given the scrutiny and the unforgiving spotlight. It is really easy to encourage people to be cynical. There is a big difference in journalism between encouraging scepticism, which is exactly what we should be doing, and being cynical. I think what might put people off going into journalism is that no one pays for news content anymore. I’ve got a subscription on my iPad to the Financial Times, The Times, The New York Times, and the Washington Post. Because I need to. If you’ve got a business model where no one pays for anything, that is not a great business model. I think that journalism becomes tougher because of that. Look at the decline in my industry – the average age of the audience watching the Ten O’Clock News, which is still considered the BBC’s flagship output, is getting older. The media landscape is changing fast, and digital engagement is now everything. The conventional way of doing news, of being the foreign correspondent, which is EMPLOYABILITY MAGAZINE

what I am, standing outside the White House, becomes less important. Not irrelevant, but less important. H o w mu c h have the fac i l i ti es c hang ed here at the U n i vers i ty of S ou tham p ton s i nc e you r ti me here? The facilities are fantastic compared to when I was here. Broadly speaking, this building is the same as when I was here in the early 1980s. That over there ( Jubilee Sports Centre) didn’t exist – obviously that (Stag’s) did. The food you’ve got – Starbucks, amenities, it’s fantastic and its huge. Much bigger, but it still feels the same. H o w vi tal i s s oc i al medi a i n j ou rnal i s m nowadays ? You have got to be on every platform that is available, because every platform provides you with a different audience. There are different ways of interacting, and if you try and cut yourself off from social media you won’t get very far. W h at key advi c e wou l d you g i ve to a bu ddi ng j ou rnal i s t w h o as p i res to take on a rol e l i ke you rs one day? I feel I’ve been incredibly lucky, actually. You’ve got to work hard and be able to take knocks, you’ve got to be tough. One of my favourite phrases that someone said to me was ‘if you want to make God laugh, tell him you’ve got a plan’. You have to be flexible, things will come up when you least expect them and you’ve got to have the flexibility to go with it. You’ve got to believe in yourself, and not be delusional. I wanted to be a professional footballer, it was never going to happen. I had two left feet… If you think you’ve got what it takes, fight for it. Live your dream, Work hard, be committed. Some people say “you’ve got to be a total s*** and you’ve got to be single minded, be a b******”. You don’t – you can be nice and you can be real. The best advice I can give to anybody is to be yourself. Don’t try and be someone else because that’s when you look inauthentic, you look unreal to people, and then they don’t trust you.






DO ‘MICKEY MOUSE DEGREES’ REALLY EXIST? WORDS BY CHARLOTTE COLOMBO IMAGE BY AVILA DIANA CHIDUME I get it, if you do an engineering degree, you’ll end up being an engineer. If you study dentistry, you’re going to be a dentist. But not all degrees are vocational, and that doesn’t necessarily make them useless. I was always academically successful at school, which for me compensated for many areas I lacked conviction in, including social interaction, relationships and that ever elusive ‘popularity’. I learned to define myself through that success and prestige, as it was basically the source of the limited confidence I had. So, as superficial as it may sound, it was that hunger to be seen as important and valid which urged me to pursue a career in law. So, when I decided during the middle of my first year to switch to Philosophy and English, the reactions were mixed, to say the least. Amongst the hoots of laughter and ‘working at McDonald’s jokes’, the consensus was that I was ‘throwing my life away’. With a Law degree, there was a guaranteed salary and successful career, something vocational while being sufficiently academic. Pretty much the holy grail of degrees in terms of future prospects and employability. So, why compromise that for my ‘Mickey Mouse Degree’? A ‘Mickey Mouse Degree’, by definition, describes a qualification that is useless in more ways than one. The Disney reference implies that it’s effectively ‘child’s play,’ and not on the same academic level as something like Medicine, for example. Apparently, if you have this degree that is ‘easy’ and presumed to be a ‘doss’, then that means it’s neither intellectually challenging or useful, because it doesn’t allow you to learn skills that are applicable to the real world. So, if you were to work in a call centre selling toilet seats, what you learnt in your Russian Literature degree presumably wouldn’t even come into it. EMPLOYABILITY MAGAZINE

Are there degrees that are easier than others? Yes, but that depends on how you define easy. If you have a mind that is more scientifically inclined, then you’ll find STEM subjects more manageable than a degree in the History of Art, whereas someone who’s interested in that subject will find that easier than the formulas you guys have as a warm up. Essentially, it’s all about where your talents lie, and it isn’t always about if one degree is inherently easier than the other, it’s all about whether you find it easy. It’s a purely subjective concept. In fact, I would argue that the broader degrees like mine, which are often considered the most common infestation of ‘Mickey Mice’ degrees, teach you the most. Because you’re not in a degree that is restricted to a certain profession, you get a wider range of skills. While a degree in Business Management will definitely equip you with the right skills to manage a business, a broader degree would allow you to have these skills and more, with each new module and aspect of the discipline requiring several different ways of thinking. In my very first term of Philosophy, for example, I was expected to learn mathematical skills with symbolic equations in one module, while also going to the complete other end of the spectrum with essay-writing skills in another module. Conclusively, I would argue that the only ‘Mickey Mouse’ degrees are, ironically, those with a vocational aim due to their narrow focus. However, what’s wrong with a degree with that kind of focus if you know exactly what you want to do? It’s not really about the degree, it’s about how the student chooses to use the skills they have learnt from it.





Whether you are learning to save lives, be the next Stephen Hawking, find a renewable clean energy source or simply meming your way through university, it cannot be ignored that there is a clear divide on which type of degree is ‘superior’. The BSc versus the BEng, the MB versus the BS, yet the BA seems to be considered the least useful in this lineup. Why? Whilst the Government gives a lowdown on the nonmonetary benefits of obtaining a degree, research suggests that: • Graduates enjoy higher quality jobs than nongraduates. • Graduates enjoy better health outcomes, by being less likely to smoke, more likely to exercise, and less prone to depression. • Graduates’ children also benefit from the educational success of their parents: graduates tend to have a greater involvement with their child’s education. • Graduates are more influential in the community, by being active citizens who are more likely to vote and participate in voluntary activities. • Graduates show positive attitudes towards diversity and equal opportunities, such as on race and gender equality issues. • Graduates, with their higher levels of skill, are a source of wider innovation and economic growth, illustrating that there should be no divide in the Bachelor degrees. People may see language degrees as pointless, or even English and History degrees for that matter, yet they are just as important, as any other as without them, society would cease to exist… Well, maybe not quite, but we would most likely regress. History teaches us about political, scientific and social failures, which will inform us and future generations on how to make the world a better place. Likewise, History students can analyse and spot warning signs about these failures, even before the rest of us could. Maybe these students are secretly superheroes with a sixth sense? Who knows! Anyway, the point here is that BA History teaches a lot about the past world and informs the current one, so, potentially these students could go on to be very important people in politics, or teachers, or historians – the world is their oyster. Bonjour! Mon petit croissant… oops, I’m a little rusty with my French! For many, the dread of being forced to learn a language has put us off from indulging in other nation’s vernaculars, but do you not think it is cool to speak in a different tongue? The government made it mandatory EMPLOYABILITY MAGAZINE

for pupils in secondary school to learn a language as it is a skill which (let’s be honest) the British lack. According to a survey published by the European Commission, ‘the British are officially the worst language learners in Europe… [as]62% of people surveyed can’t speak any other language apart from English, 38% of Britons speak at least one foreign language, 18% speak two and only 6% of the population speak three or more’… no wonder we have a bad reputation for being ignorant abroad. It is statistically proven that learning a language while you are young is easier, but that should not mean that we stop attempting to learn them as we grow older. It is hard, no doubt about that, but we must give credit to BA Modern Languages students, who are incredible for tackling this degree with a different set of skills to the rest of us. Like History students, they have an endless possibility of job prospects after their degree, and they should be proud of their achievements. Just because people study English, it does not mean that they all wish to pursue a career as authors, teachers or journalists – please stop stereotyping them. Whilst English students learn critical and analytical skills, they also are immersed in our history as well as branching into other subjects such as Modern Languages, Psychology, History, and Politics. It is not as ‘basic’ as you may think. This degree does give students a lot of ‘free’ time, but it requires a lot of independent reading, as well as needing the self-discipline to meet deadlines, research wisely and organise your time – something which many struggle with. Furthermore, many believe that English students receive a lot of guidance on how to write essays, but, surprisingly, they do not… all students are in the same boat (that is if this boat was the Titanic). Do you not appreciate literature? Or film? Or art? Or the ability to converse in multiple languages? Whilst these are but a few of the BA degrees, they help shape our lives daily. Without these degrees, we would not be able to engage with different cultures, or engage with our own – we would not be able to relate to one another or communicate. Other Bachelors degrees may be more practical in some respects, and I wholeheartedly have respect for those that undertake them, yet BAs teach analytical skills and alternative practical skills. I leave you with this: ‘medicine, law, business, engineering: these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love… these are what we stay alive for’ – Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society (1989).



Does Trickle-Down Economics Work?





Does trickle-down economics work to make the poor richer, or is it simply a justification for sustaining wealth inequality? ‘Trickle-Down’ economics was the prevalent view of the 1950s and 60s, in which any development was seen as purely ‘economic’ (according to H.W. Arndt). The idea was that rapid gains from the overall growth of GNP and per capita income would automatically bring benefits (i.e. ‘trickle down’) to the masses in the form of jobs and other economic opportunities. Popularised largely by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, the theory states that measures which benefit the wealthy, will benefit everyone else too. Their wealth ‘trickles down’ to those lower in class, and so makes us all richer as wealth inequality grows. A laissez-faire, selfregulating mechanism of top-down wealth redistribution, in which wealth just ‘trickled’ down, led to the term becoming associated with neoliberalism. Trickle-Down economics assumes that the wealthy will either share their wealth (e.g. by increasing wages alongside profits), or that the market will self-regulate to automatically benefit the poor. This logic is prone to significant flaws. For instance, a common argument against measures such as increasing corporation tax or lateral agreements to abolish tax loopholes, is that for employers to be able to pay their workers more they need to have the money to do so, meaning that any measure reducing their wealth is detrimental to workers. From this alone, one can see the flaws in this logic. This theory ignores two crucial realities: Firstly, the top 1% of employers extract enough profit to increase wages, but choose not to. Oxfam’s 2018 ‘Reward Work, Not Wealth’ report reveals that 82% of the wealth generated in 2017 went to the richest 1%, whilst the 3.7 billion people – the poorest half of humanity – saw no increase in their wealth. In the US, it takes slightly over one working day for a CEO to earn what an ordinary employee is given in a year. And, it would take around one-third of the amount paid to shareholders by 2016’s top 5 garment sector companies to give all 2.5 million Vietnamese garment workers a living wage. Reducing profits does not necessitate job losses, as profit is the extra money that comes after paying wages and other costs – it is purely the employer’s decision and they are under no obligation to share their profits. Secondly, following this theory, workers’ wages should have increased automatically as their employer’s does too, but as Oxfam’s research points out, this is simply not the case. In fact, between 2009 and 2014 real wages fell every year in the UK despite increasing inequality, the longest decline since the mid-1800s. Similar patterns of wage reduction and stagnation exist elsewhere, such as A. L. Mohamed’s 2018 study on trickle-down in Egypt, where ‘Econometric analysis assured that high economic growth rates were accompanied with increase in poverty rates’, concluding Egypt must


‘change its dependence on trickle-down theory of economic development into bottom-up economic development approach’. These claims are ideological. It is rarely stated that ‘increasing inequality gaps will make the poor richer’. Instead, coherent and ideological statements are made that perpetuate capitalism by justifying its ruling ideology. This theory is, as György Lukács puts it – a projection of the class consciousness of the rich. So, for example, in a society where social mobility and security are low, private housing becomes valuable as an investment to secure a comfortable life away from work, and housing inevitably becomes more expensive as profit applies, leading to competition and monopolies over housing that exclude the poor. Thus, private property is misperceived as beneficial and ideologies like conservatism, liberalism, and social democracy create a false consciousness – continual antagonisms whilst ignoring the reality that everyone benefits from abolishing such property relations – accommodation either applies to all or only to those who can afford it. Thus, belief in this philosophy and claims like it obscure the true nature of capitalism’s tenets – profit, competition and individualism which find material expression in private property (as opposed to shared, fairly distributed property, sustaining the need for poor wages to avoid homelessness and destitution). What does this mean for employment? It means companies either pay their employees more (but no obligation exists) or governments legislate to redistribute wealth. Another solution which avoids these issues and ensures redistribution is a public ownership of industry as part of a wider social transformation. If workers were able to democratically decide where the profits from their labour went, no sane individual would choose such high amounts to go to one individual while everyone else remains in poverty pay and perpetual insecurity. How this is brought about is debatable, but claims like trickle-down must be relegated to the confines of history if we are ever to progress to a situation where wealth inequality no longer exists, and freedoms are not dictated by finances. Thus trickle-down and its associations are dangerous and politically regressive ideological myths, serving as socially necessary illusions – justifying coping mechanisms for a long and 50-year UK average working life that could be largely reduced and avoided if such statements were decoded and society changed. Instead, the pursuit and justification for individual over collective wealth belies us. As the Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang wrote: ‘Once you realize that trickle-down economics does not work, you will see the excessive tax cuts for the rich as what they are – a simple upward redistribution of income, rather than a way to make all of us richer, as we were told’.



The Welfare State: Does It Work?

‘The Welfare State’ is a loaded phrase in politics. It is a phrase from which Labour have done well to steer the public away in recent years. It is a phrase Old Labour dreaded, often weaponised by their political opponents. Though before my time, I remember friends telling me their parents had told them: ‘Only people on benefits vote Labour, who give them everything they want for free’. This ‘something for nothing’ attitude is one that Labour were plagued with, and not only has this seemingly disappeared, but so have many traditional attitudes about the big bad ‘Welfare State’. So what is the state of this state – is it working, and if not, what are our options? Well, sort of. The Welfare State works in that people aren’t starving who would otherwise. But is this really the best we can do? There are a startling number of people who are forced to rely on in-work benefits in this country. Not enough is made of this incredible injustice. In-work benefits. Say that back in your head. The idea that we pay people so low that they have to rely on state benefit, in the 9th richest country on Earth – is insane. I also have doubts on how economically viable that is. It’s hard to put an exact figure on just how expensive our system of welfare is, but it is ludicrously expensive. A raise on the minimum wage (per hour) surely has to be a priority. The current minimum wage for 21-24 year olds is £7.36 and £7.86 for those over 26. The Living Wage Foundation estimates that the ‘real’ living wage (the government helpfully rebranded the minimum wage the ‘living wage’ to make it sound nicer), that is the amount one needs to live, is £8.75. If you live in London, this amount should be £10.20. As a first step, a genuine National Living Wage as a bare minimum would make a welcome change. This would remove the absurd need for in-work benefits for a start, let alone the impact it will have on people’s lives. The right wing of the country realised long ago that millions unemployed looks terrible. Instead of getting rid of them all, which doesn’t serve their interests (they are, after all, bankrolled by the highly wealthy), they pushed most of them onto low-paid, insecure jobs. So many in fact, that the entire scope of our economy has changed. We now have many traits of a ‘gig economy’. At the most extreme end of this, you have the likes of the ever-careless Uber – desperately lashing out at any form of regulation, lest anyone dream of affecting its eye-watering revenue.



Changing the nature of the expensive welfare state necessitates, (or would perpetuate) a change in the fundamental nature of our economy. But this change isn’t unrealistic, if the support of Labour’s current policies are anything to go by. For example, universal basic income is a system showing a lot of promise in its trials across Europe, and could potentially be a viable replacement. But one thing’s for sure, our welfare system is broken and needs fixing.






With competition for graduate schemes becoming increasingly fierce, and never ending hoops to jump through, acquiring a job after graduating is tougher than it’s ever been. Employers look for more than a degree, and desire evidence of essential skills and life experience. So here at Wessex Scene, we’ve compiled a list of skills and tips to help set yourself apart that excludes all the formalities such as how long a CV should be, how you should tailor it for each job, formatting and order of appearance.

Experience, experience, experience

This of course is obvious – the more experience you have, the easier it is to demonstrate that you have the skills useful to your future employer. However, getting the right experience can seem difficult at first, but, with a pro-active mindset, it can be achieved. Furthermore, getting experience allows you to test the waters and see if you would actually enjoy working in that sector. You may find you love it, and you may find it’s not for you. Both of these are perfectly acceptable, and just because you realise you don’t want to pursue that area as a career, doesn’t mean you’ve wasted your time. You’ve gained those all important ‘transferable skills’ whilst demonstrating your proactive attitude. If you feel research may be the path for you, the easiest way to gain experience is to ask research staff within your department if they would be happy to have you work in their lab during the holidays and provide you with some insight in an area you’re passionate about. Most research staff are happy to accommodate this, and may even have the resources to pay you. Another fantastic point of entry is the Southampton Excel internship programme, which has schemes available (both paid and unpaid) throughout the year in a vast number of areas. The best thing about the Excel internships is that there are a range of positions available local to Southampton each year that may spark your interest in an area you weren’t previously aware about, from charity work, and public speaking to working with local businesses. Perhaps the university doesn’t offer the option to learn a particular skill you want to learn, or maybe the language courses have no spaces. There are plenty of online courses and apps you can use to kick start that process, such as Codecademy, Duolingo and Whilst these may seem like baby steps to gaining a full rounded knowledge of a certain skill, demonstrating your proactive nature by learning these skills on you own speaks volumes to an employer about your work ethic.

Get involved

Employers also look for evidence that you’re sociable and have more to offer than just your degree. Unfortunately, that 10-night bender at Freshers doesn’t count, and neither does your ability to see off a beverage (though wouldn’t that be

great). Going to the Bunfight at the start of the year and second semester to join some of the societies is always a good place to start, but don’t be disheartened if you don’t find the right one for you straight away. Most clubs accept anyone throughout the year, and it’s always worth giving things a try just to dip your toe in, even just for a semester! Furthermore, being part of societies benefits both your physical and mental health, so it’s a win-win from all aspects. Another string to your bow, which employers look for and some have even starting requiring it as an essential skill, is being part of a committees whilst at university. Employers love to see committed involvement, and being part of a committee even translates as ambition to do more and shows off those all important leadership skills. All societies have their own committee, but if none of their roles appeal to you, or you don’t get the position you want, there’s still a chance to get involved with other committees, which are both fun and provide valuable experience. From the Zones committees such as the Athletic Union committee to student reps and halls committees, there is an abundance of opportunities waiting for you to take advantage of them. For more information on the zone committees, the best thing to do would be message the sabbatical officer that heads that zone and see how you can get involved.

The future is social

There are numerous online platforms designed to help you get a job such as LinkedIn, STEM graduates and Gradcracker, which are all part and parcel of accessing jobs today no matter how annoying the emails are (looking at you, TARGET jobs). However, often we are warned about the negative impact other social media can have when we look for jobs. Social media can and should be used to your advantage to showcase the sides you want employers to see. For instance, Twitter is a great tool for keeping up with current affairs and with the companies you’re interested in through following the right platforms and people. Engaging with this media, commenting on it and retweeting shows high engagement with the world around you, allowing you to bring up or cover relevant topics during interviews. It also provides a certain aspect of transparency. Furthermore, documenting your experiences online can also be another great way of engaging with employers, from the standard blogs and vlogs to having online portfolios through tools such as Pathbrite that allow a tangible links to the skills you have gained.

Hopefully these 3 points provide a good start to building your CV, but most importantly don’t doubt your self-worth when applying for jobs, and be confident. Knockbacks are part of the process, and, as cliché as it sounds, do provide you with practical experience with the process of awkward video interviews and assessment centres. just keep digging away and you’ll get there. Also don’t forget, that the Careers Centre in the Student Services building can provide help with all aspects of the job application process.



Many of us are only just starting to think about applying for summer internships, work experience or graduate schemes. For some, along with these infinitely long applications, comes the dreaded interview stage. We all know that it is important to research the company and practice your interview skills in order to succeed, however, making a good first impression is also important. We’ve all heard the advice: “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” This is good inspiration, however, it may not be too practical if you’re an aspiring biochemist currently working in H&M. With this quick guide to creating your ‘workplace wardrobe’, I hope I can help you avoid this last-minute panic.


Smart shirt

The safest bet when looking to buy a staple smart shirt for interviews is buying a plain white one. You can find them anywhere and everywhere, from Topshop to M&S. Because they are such a staple, you are also more likely to find them at more affordable prices. A well-fitting shirt from Primark will cost next to nothing, but it also gets the job done. For those of you who are more exotic in your choices, and feel comfortable taking a risk, you could also invest in a patterned or block colour shirt. If you remember to make sure that it still looks smart and professional, then any colour shirt will be acceptable. Do remember what you could pair it with though. A bright, vivid pink coloured shirt may not be the best option, but pairing it with a black tie and black blazer could soften the effect. It shows a bit of your quirky personality while also showing your professionalism.


Smart trousers

I live in jeans. Blue jeans, black jeans, ripped jeans, dungarees, anything made of denim. I almost forgot that other forms of trousers exist until I had an interview and remembered that even the blackest of jeans are not considered ‘smart’. After extensive research, I decided that the most flattering and the smartest trousers that I could wear were ‘cigarette trousers’. Luckily, these are sold in nearly every clothes shop. I bought a simple black pair from H&M for a fair price and I already owned a yellow


shirt that I thought I could wear with it whilst still looking like I took the interview seriously. Alternatively, instead of pairing plain trousers with a bright shirt, you could buy a pair that is a block colour or patterned to pair with a plain shirt. Either way, the ‘fun’ element of your outfit is balanced.


Sensible and comfortable shoes

Similarly to my trouser issue, I completely forget that trainers are not the only form of footwear that exists. Trainers are also not the smartest footwear that you can wear. A simple black pair of shoes from Primark will be valued extremely highly when you don’t want to put too much thought into your outfit, so you can just shove them on and go without being worried about looking too casual. Avoid any kind of sports footwear if possible. There are some really pretty ballet pumps out there that will go with anything that you put on. If you’re not into that style, then it could be a good idea to invest in some black boots. Make sure that they are comfy, because you’ll be wearing them day in day out if you get the job!


A smile

This may be cheesy but it’s the most important element of your workplace wardrobe. You could turn up in trackies, your free Freshers t-shirt, and not even brush your teeth but if you are friendly, enthusiastic and determined then you are pretty much an unstoppable force.






Working In The Fashion Industry WORDS BY AKSHADA RAWAT IMAGE BY AVILA DIANA CHIDUME The fashion industry is a multibillion-dollar global enterprise. It is valued at 3 trillion dollars, and accounts for 2% of the world’s GDP. It is huge, and has many subindustries. Many fashion lovers want to be part of the industry somehow. Here’s some advice on how to make this happen.

thus having an impact, not only on the industry, but also on consumers.

To be part of any industry you need to understand the industry. No industry is easy to understand, but if you research thoroughly, you will get there. Every yea, we see significant changes in the fashion industry because of the changing nature of competition and technological development. With the coming of the digital age, things are changing at a great pace. Technology is taking over and

The spread of social media has brought a whole new stage for companies and brands, encouraging them to seek new interactive ways of communication and engaging their consumers. Luxury brands with high brand value develop social media marketing strategies to improve brand recognition and customer experience. For example, British fashion brand Burberry has 8.6M followers on their


Here is the list of ways by which you can truly be part of the fashion industry or work in the industry:

D o the Right research



Twitter account, which is more than Louis Vuitton and Gucci. As social media has emerged on a large scale, it has made research easy for us. If we want to know about any particular brand, we can just check their different social media accounts and gather all the required information. With technological developments in every industry, it is very important to be up to date. Before applying for any kind of job or internship, make sure to do proper research about the company.

Try and obtain a fashioN related internship

Keep yo urself up to date with new trend s

Wo rk Calendar/Diary

It’s extremely important to know your industry well. The fashion industry is all about new trends, which change every second. It’s important to understand that the fashion industry is divided into two seasons annually, Spring/ Summer (S/S) and Autumn/Winter (A/W). Secondly, to keep up to date with the trends in the fashion industry you should follow WGSN Fashion – one of the most prominent online fashion forecasting and trend services. It gives you a huge insight into fashion and lifestyle, and has trend reports, catwalk analysis, design and inspiration. It also has a global calendar which gives you a list of fashion related throughout the year. If you are a university student, through your university email, you can register to get free access to WGSN.

It’s very important to know the industry from inside, so definitely try to get some kind of work experience. It does not matter if it is unpaid or low paid, experience is really important. Through industry experience, you will get the insight of how brands are working these days and know more about the industry.

Whichever industry you are part of you should always have a diary dedicated to your work. As fashions keeps on getting updated all the time, you should also keep yourself up to date too. So, it’s really important for you to maintain a work diary wherein you can write down things so that you don’t miss them. You can also add things to do on your calender and do them accordingly. Fashion is one of the most challenging industries. To be part of the industry you have to completely dedicate yourself to knowing it. There will never come a time when you will know everything, because every day something new keeps on coming.

Another website which will keep you up to date about the fashion world is The Business of Fashion (BOF). It is a daily resource for fashion creators, executives and entrepreneurs in over 200 countries.




I s T h er e Mon ey t o b e Ma de by Se lling Yo ur L i fest yle Online ? WORDS BY FREYA MILLARD Nowadays, many Youtubers, Instagram models and bloggers are considered somewhat celebrities, and their success stories make it seem achievable for the everyday person to propel themselves into a life of fame and money. The most popular online stardom is often built by sharing details of personal lives and lifestyles with the world. This may be jetting across the globe, providing reviews and tutorials, or even creating parodies of pop culture. No matter what the topic, what they all have in common is proving that there is a clear demand in the online market for advice and entertainment from just about anyone, regardless of status, money or celebrity ties. Yet, only a small fraction of online stars actually become household names and gain a large following, so the real question is: What are the odds of someone like you or I being able to actually make money by selling our lifestyles online? Talking about yourselves, your lives and posting aesthetically pleasing photos doesn’t exactly sound like a demanding skill set, and that is probably the reason why thousands and thousands of people have attempted reaching online fame, most of whom do not succeed. But, even if you’re not interested in gaining fame, and only want to make some cash, there isn’t a large success rate either, unless you stay motivated, committed, and constantly keep up with technology developments to be cutting edge. It’s definitely more challenging than it looks, but it’s not impossible. If you’re determined to build an online presence then here are a few tips from experts about how to make a real dent in the market:

B r and Your se l f

Colour schemes, logos, fonts, hashtags – every little detail of your channels needs to be consistent and eye-catching. You need to style your online profiles so they are uniquely recognisable.

S tand O u t

Offer something new or you’ll never be noticed. The thing about the internet is that basically every idea has already been done to some level, and therefore to build a successful online brand you need to find a gap in the market and fill it, or take something already there and do it better.

C onsi sten t C o n t e n t

As you start out, you’ll likely to only be posting content for a viewership of under 50 people; that may make you feel disheartened and not want to continue putting in your time and effort. Popularity online for most people is not instantaneous, unless you produce one very big hit. Otherwise, you have to build your following slowly and the only way to do that it to produce consistent, high standard content, regardless of whether 50 or 10,000 people will see it.


Ta r g e t V ie we r s hip

Know your audience is marketing advice 101 and should definitely not be overlooked when deciding what type of content you are going to create. Is it a channel about single parenting, make-up for teens, fitness for over 40s? Narrow it down and imagine you are producing the content for just a single individual who matches your exact demographic. This will improve engagement and attract advertisers, who are more likely to pay you money if their adverts are going to target a specific group, instead of just any random social media user.

S e e k O ppo r t unit ie s

Like most careers in the public limelight, it’s all about who you know when selling your lifestyle brand. Once you’ve established a brand, content and a niche audience following, you can then start contacting advertisers and companies to discuss collaborations and sponsored posts. This step is probably the most daunting one, but it is incredibly important if you want to make money from your efforts. You cannot rely on the hope that companies will come running with offers to you, instead you have to seek the opportunities out, sell your brand and score some connections.



The Working Week Around The World

Whilst here in the UK we think of our conventional working week as 9am-5pm between Monday and Friday, many countries take a different approach to the regular working schedule. With work-related stress accounting for 40% of all workplace illness in 2015-16, could the UK benefit from offering a more flexible approach?

New Zealand One company in the Southwestern Pacific country recently experimented with a four day working week. Staff at trustee company Perpetual Guardian continued to be paid for five days of work, but only worked for four as part of a six week trial set to conclude in mid-April. In July, the company will make a decision on whether to adopt the new working pattern full time. Both company bosses and employees have noted increased 26

productivity as a result of the trial. New Zealanders currently work an average of 1,752 hours a year – which places them close to the average among OECD countries. Many think tanks and workplace organisations have been calling on more companies to adopt a four day working pattern, suggesting that it could help combat unhealthy work-life balances and lead to a better quality of work being produced in a shorter period of time.

Luxembourg Despite its employees only working an average of 29 hours a week, the small European nation has been the world’s most productive for a number of years. According to 2015 data gathered by the OECD, Luxembourgers have a GDP per hour worked (a measure which evaluates how effectively labour input is used in the production process and combined with other factors) of US$93.40. EMPLOYABILITY MAGAZINE



The OECD has attributed the nation’s success to its belief in maintaining the work-life balance of employees based there, and its success in allowing them to ‘successfully combine work, family commitments and personal life’. Luxembourgers are generally allowed to reorganise their working weeks to accommodate outside commitments and interests – most workers are entitled to at least five weeks and all overtime must be compensated for. As well as this flexible approach, many sectors do not allow work on Sundays.

Mexico The North American nation was recorded as the least productive on the OECD’s 2015 list. Compared to Luxembourg’s short and flexible work week, Mexico has the world’s longest working week on average at 41 hours. With a GDP per hour of just US$20.30, Mexico’s case shows that a long and fixed working schedule could perhaps do more harm than good, despite appearing productive.

South Korea The Asian country currently has a 68 hour working week – a product of the country’s economic boom during the 1980s and 1990s, when a a ‘workaholic’ attitude took hold and the country’s birth rate fell sharply. After new President Moon Jae-in took office, the country’s national assembly passed a law (which will come into effect in July) to cut maximum weekly working hours from 68 to 53. The country’s minimum wage will also be increased by 16% this year. When it comes into force, the new working week will consist of 40 normal hours and up to 12 hours of overtime. It will initially apply to large companies, before being phased in for smaller businesses. A study by the Korean Economic Research Institute estimates that it will cost an additional $11bn to maintain the same levels of production as under the old working pattern.

aging population. However, South Koreans still work around 400 more hours each year than workers in the UK and Australia, despite all countries having similar average incomes.

India Whilst all the countries above are members of the OECD, developing economies such as China and India are not members of the organisation, and often have much longer weekly working hours. Some companies in India still operate on a six day working week, resulting in many employees being contracted to work Saturdays on a regular basis. In a survey of millennials conducted by ManpowerGroup, young Indians were found to work 52 hours a week on average – much more than their peers in 25 other countries. The average for China was next highest, at 48 hours. According to a study conducted by the International Labor Organisation in 2011, productivity can drop dramatically after 40 hours of work a week, and doing so over a prolonged period can cause strain and fatigue. Despite this, many Indian workers still put in long hours, as showing commitment is seen as a way of progressing.

United States While the working week in the US is 40 hours on average, employees often find themselves putting in many more hours than what is stipulated on their contracts. A Gallup poll conducted for Forbes Magazine in 2015 found that those employed on full time contracts normally work nearer to 47 hours a week on average. Many also worked even longer hours than the average – 21% of those polled said that they worked 50-59 hours a week, and 18% said that they worked over 60 hours each week.

The country’s Gender and Equality and Family Minister, Chung Hyun-back, has described the old week as ‘inhumanely long’ and damaging to the country’s fast EMPLOYABILITY MAGAZINE





ravelling was once a luxury for the elite classes. It was a mark of privilege, and nothing more than a leisure activity that showed that you had a bit more money than the average Joe. But with the advent of low-cost carriers, package holidays and the increasing numbers of countries relying on tourism for a portion of their GDP, thus creating holiday resorts and competitive prices to attract the masses, vacationing has been made accessible for a lot of people. But how can you use your travels to give you an edge in the world of work?


According to a survey carried out by Hostelworld, 82% of employers think travelling makes you more employable, and 62% of adults who took the survey overall also believe it makes you more employable. 61% of participants said that the structure of their own travels boosted their CV, whilst 62% stated that their travels helped them decide what they wanted to do in life. 46% of participants even met people whilst travelling who helped them secure a job later in life… Successful businesses reach out to people around the world. Employers are now looking more than ever for people who can speak multiple languages. This increases their utility in global companies where clients and business partners from different pockets of the world will be impressed by someone with an aptitude for their native language. Travelling and picking up phrases from different parts of the world, and taking the time to get a good grip of some major languages (for example: Spanish, Mandarin, French) means a business trip to Switzerland won’t be daunting if you have a good handle of German, or a two-week placement in Madrid less stressful if you know a bit of Spanish. 31%


of those who participated in the Hostelworld survey stated that travel helps improve communication, and 20% maintained that travel helps develop a more ‘global view’. Travelling makes you a better team player and increases empathy. It comes as no surprise that travel increases your cultural sensitivity, which makes you a better candidate for jobs where the work environment is constantly changing and the workforce and clientele are diverse. Employers value a candidate who can demonstrate that they will be understanding, openminded and tolerant of their colleagues and would work well in a team. Organising travelling successfully is a mark of responsibility. Those six-month trips across SE Asia require A LOT of planning. Of those surveyed in the study, 19% stated travelling made them better at managing money. Being able to tell an employer you pulled one off successfully, solo or with friends, at the age of 18 is impressive and demonstrates you are not afraid of being independent or take responsibility for yourself in new and unfamiliar circumstances. Travelling enhances stress management skills. Planning a holiday and executing it successfully can be quite stressful, especially if you’re trying to organise a large group, or a whole family! Creating itineraries, deciphering foreign languages, currencies, and sorting out visas and passports sometimes puts people off planning those bucket list trips. Companies will look out for people who take initiative to complete tasks that bring about certain levels of risk and resultant stress.



It is a great way of boosting your IQ. New experiences stimulate your brain in ways it perhaps would not have done before travelling. Just the experience of seeing how other people live and operate makes you a wiser and more well-informed person, so it is no wonder travelling has been shown to boost people’s IQs and increase their creativity. Travelling provides invaluable work experience. If you plan to work whilst abroad, or participate in some sort of volunteer scheme, you will gain unique work experience in a new environment, which will provide all the stresses and considerations of a job at home, but with the added consideration of being in a completely unfamiliar environment and thus having to adapt to different types of changes. This could include having to communicate with those who do not share your first language, adjusting to environmental conditions e.g. heat, snow, or even fitting in with the norms of the country in which you have chosen to work. Throwing yourself into new environments and not being afraid of having to adapt to change is a key skill coveted by employers when recruiting. EMPLOYABILITY MAGAZINE

It is important to note that travelling is still a luxury and is inaccessible to a lot of people, but this number has dropped. Most students who can afford to be at university could potentially put away some pennies for a trip within Europe or even to a new surface of the U.K. if nowhere else! The joy of travel is in the travel itself, but don’t forget it comes with some benefits for employability too. So what are you waiting for?

It comes as no surprise that travel increases your cultural sensitivity, which makes you a better candidate for jobs where the work environment is constantly changing and the workforce and clientele are diverse.

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CABIN CREW WORDS BY AMY PICKNELL We’ve all seen that glamorous Virgin advert; the swanky pilots waltzing around with a trail of beautiful female cabin crew following close behind as they board the plane and jet off to another tropical destination. It looks like the lifestyle of dreams, but behind closed doors, not all is as it seems. As a student, I don’t really know too much about working airside, but my boyfriend spent almost a year working as short-haul cabin crew, and he’s told me all the secrets and gossip of what it’s really like. The biggest thing about travelling for a living is that it is really, really lonely. *Home by Michael Buble starts to play*. On paper, it might seem cool that you can be in Amsterdam one night and Barcelona the next, but when you’re in those places by yourself for days or, if you’re long haul crew, weeks on end, you miss your friends and soggy British soil sooner than you’d think. You may get to stay in nice hotels, but they’re not all nice. Most of them are extremely close to or at the airport itself and nowhere near the actual city, so there’s no time to go solo sight-seeing. Not that you’d feel up to it anyway because of a wonderful thing called Minimum Rest Agreements. The European Aviation Safety Administration (EASA) sets out flight time limitations which governs how long pilots and crew can work for, and how much rest they need between shifts. Airlines purposefully roster you as close to the limit as possible for maximum hours and minimum rest. As the limit is 60 duty hours in 7 consecutive days, they often get around this by putting a single rest day in the middle of the week so they can make you work for longer than 60 hours, as it isn’t consecutive. Because of this, cabin crew are often very sleep deprived.


Being cabin crew is not a relaxing or ‘easy’ job. Despite what some rude passengers seem to think, they are not there to say hello to you when you board, get you a gin and tonic and then sit at the back reading a magazine. The main responsibility of cabin crew is to make sure the aircraft is safe and secure, and their secondary role is to look after you and be hospitable. Whilst you are in the air, they take on the role of every possible person of authority you could imagine. They have to have the knowledge and capability to be first-aiders, midwives, firefighters, doctors, police, customer service, waiters; the list is endless. Because if anything happens in the air that could happen on the ground, the cabin crew are the first and only point of call. It is well known amongst cabin crew that the stressful lifestyle plays havoc with your eating and sleeping patterns, and like any stressful job you either gain lots of weight or lose it. This lower standard of health also means you are more susceptible to catching the latest cold and flu virus no matter the time of year. On top of the pressure that comes with the job, the last thing cabin crew need is rude, uncooperative passengers. So next time you’re on a flight, before you get annoyed that you have to move your bag or fold up your seat table, or you’re grumpy because you woke up at 4am to catch a flight, remember: they woke up early too, there is a specific reason for everything cabin crew ask you to do, and your bacon sandwich is not number one on their meter long todo list.



Should Money Be Cut Despite Benefits in Employment? WORDS BY DAMIAN MEADEN The argument that sport has too much money invested into it is a common one, and has it’s merits, but also fails to recognise that vast contribution it makes to the domestic economy every single year. As an example, take the argument that plagues the UK’s pubs on a weekly basis – ‘footballers are paid too much money’. Absolutely true, and compared to other professions on lower wages such as doctors, or civil servants, it’s almost scandalous. But also consider the wider repercussions of reducing the amount of money in football. The Daily Telegraph estimated in 2015 that, in this country alone, the expense of football creates 62,000 jobs in turn, not to mention the knock-on employment at sports retailers, betting outlets, bars and the food/retail outlets local to each club on a weekend. Suddenly, for the sake of otherwise turning a couple of hundred thousand people back into an already congested employment market, I’m a lot easier about Cristiano Ronaldo earning millions of pounds a month. And some sports need the money to survive – should they be dissolved simply for that? Formula 1, and motorsport in general, is often nicknamed ‘the rich man’s game’ for the sheer cost of it. Teams at the pinnacle spend hundreds of millions of pounds a year to compete, and even at grassroots level in karting, you can quite easily spend fourfigure sums per annum on the adrenaline fix. How then, do you go about fixing a system that is largely underpinned by individuals spending their own money at the bottom, and large companies sponsoring the activities


at the top? It is, for all intents and purposes, a working economic model, and the UK is renowned as the ‘home’ of motorsport from an infrastructure perspective. That same Telegraph article stated the sport sector pulls £20 billion into the UK’s economy every year – can we afford to trim that and re-discover new ways of raising those figures? Though the exponential sums might be spent in sport, their re-distribution can be felt elsewhere, with the sector truly assimilated into the economy, it seems a risky ploy to attempt to reduce it and not expect consequences elsewhere. Many sporting clubs also make efforts to spend their wealth responsibility – our local Premier League outfit Southampton FC, for example, have their own charity, the Saints Foundation, benefiting the local community and forging ties between the locals and their team. Is there a middle ground to be had, whereby costs are controlled and strict guidance on expenditure is introduced, for example a cap of transfer costs that would see the reported £89m deal that took Paul Pogba to Manchester United two years ago scrapped? Possibly. But does that then in turn restrict the appeal of sporting outfits to investors and brands looking for sponsorship and promotional opportunities, crippling the system nonetheless? Many would disagree, but perhaps sport is best left to attract billions and then spend them again as it sees fit. It might seem extortionate, but the knock-on benefits for all might be harder to replace, not least in the employment sector, if it’s wings were clipped.



Breaking Into

Spo rts Journalism WORDS BY FARIHAH CHOUDHURY IMAGE BY RACHEL WINTER It’s quite easy to understand why sports journalism is one of the most saturated markets in the profession. Being paid to write about your favourite sport, with access to the stars and people who make these incredible moments happen, and then a platform on which to showcase your spin on it to the world? Forget ‘if you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life’ – that’s an opportunity so many would do for free. Of course, that only creates competition for jobs, with many young professionals scouring news desks up and down the country to get their foot in the door at entry level – so what’s the key to getting ahead? It sounds a little cliché – but experience will go a long way. There is some assumption that the pathway into the field is ‘complete a relevant degree, get a job and then go out and build up your reputation, skills, contacts and portfolio’.


And that’s not wrong per se, but isn’t necessarily the right order to do it all in. Firstly – degrees are good. They show a level of responsibility, commitment, the ability to turn a keen eye and mind to a wide range of research tasks and still have some pedigree, even if the number of graduates continues to rise per year. But, is a degree in media necessarily the best thing even if you want to go into that career field? My argument instead would be that it is far better to build up a portfolio whilst studying a degree in a different field – one that interests you and helps develop key skills such as presenting information in layman’s terms, quality of written work and researching – whilst simultaneously starting to attend sporting events and making an effort to learn the trade that way.



Consider – you’re the Editor-in-Chief at a well-respected newspaper, with an advert running for an entry level position on the news desk for sport. The vast majority of candidates will hold media-based degrees and may have some limited experience, but nothing above and beyond the realms and requirements of their course. Then, you have candidates with a degree in a different but relevant field, such as English or History, but who also have a raft of experience and have demonstrated a level of independence to go about learning the trade? Even if it’s just attending local football matches, interviewing players after (who may or may not be mates with someone in the family so it’s a bit awkward), and then putting the report on your own personal blog afterwards, that’s an invaluable start. The advent of social media means anyone can have their work read, with little work, so this starting point is a lot less low-key than it used to be. Be prepared to deal with difficult personalities – especially if you start covering larger events. The majority of athletes are perfectly normal, friendly people – but egos exist and arguably none more so than in sport. Keeping calm, asking insightful, fair questions and standing your ground are all part and parcel at the beginning, especially when tasked with grilling one of your heroes (I definitely have never been sworn at by someone I used to idolize), but the experience only serves to make you a better interviewer, and that can pay dividends further down the line.


Working for free is not a bad thing, to begin with. Some professional journalists – particularly freelancers – will probably tell you that working just for the experience is a cardinal sin and sells your talents short. That’s not true. Volunteering for gigs at lower-budget outlets can open doors for you, and put you in an environment to build up your own personal network of contacts. And that’s probably the most underrated skill of being a journalist. A cliched final point to end on would be to not take no for an answer, but that’s a terrible idea. Managing relationships with section editors and staff at newspapers, digital outlets and even PR companies is a constant balancing act, but keeping everybody on-side can pay dividends in terms of career opportunities. Be careful not to nag, though, it’s an excellent method of being dismissed and burning a bridge. Know when to push someone for that work experience you’ve been craving, and when they’ve got a busy window of work and staying respectfully quiet will reflect far better on you. As a sea of recent university graduates will attest – it’s not easy. But sports journalism is arguably the most rewarding of all, in terms of job satisfaction and the variety of content produced, and certainly one worth chasing.


Wessex Scene Employability Magazine  
Wessex Scene Employability Magazine