Media students get the inside story on careers in journalism with former reporter

A Level Media students at Westminster Kingsway College have been inspired by a visit from a former news journalist who gave them the scoop on working in journalism.

Paul Cassell worked for the Reading Post and its sister papers The Wokingham Times and Bracknell Standard from 2003-2013. He is now Senior Press Officer for Capital City College Group, which includes WestKing.

He joined the students during one of their lessons at the college’s King’s Cross Centre and explained what skills journalists need, what makes a story newsworthy and gave them advice on getting into the industry.

Paul also provided tips on interviewing and writing techniques including an exercise where students pretended to be journalists interviewing people about a fictional fire, and another where they had to turn fairytales and nursery rhymes into news stories. Media student Abena Peprah, 18, who hopes to become a broadcast journalist, said: “Today has been very helpful. It’s given me a really deep insight into the world of journalism and what I need to put in place for my dream career to happen.

“I’m a very confident, adventurous and spontaneous person and like the idea of going out and speaking to other people ad hearing their opinions that may be different to my own and understanding things from their perspective.”

Another student, Sean Weale, 18, said: “I would like to get into investigative journalism as I like solving problems. Being able to travel the world and interview people also really inspires me.

“It was interesting finding out what makes a story newsworthy and what questions to ask when you’re interviewing someone. I had the gist of what journalism was, but I learnt a lot of new things during the presentation.”

Paul covered many different aspects of news during his journalism career including crime, politics, education, health, business, entertainment, environmental and human interest stories after studying a National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) course.

In that time, he had the opportunity to interview many high-profile figures including Theresa May, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg, and bands and celebrities including Squeeze, McFly, Jenny Agutter, Stephen Merchant, John Challis, Samantha Womack and Ralf Little.

Paul also covered the Royal Wedding party celebrations of Reading-born Kate Middleton’s wedding to Prince William in her home village of Bucklebury, and the Olympic torch being carried through Reading ahead of the London 2012 Games.

Roxanne Baptiste, Lecturer in A Level Media Studies, said: “We really appreciated Paul coming in and giving our students an insight in what it’s like to be a journalist and the skills they need to work in the media industry.

“As part of the A Level media course students study newspapers and online news with particular emphasis on the political ideology of the institution and how that influences news stories.

“The session really got them thinking about what is expected of journalists at a professional level and the skills and knowledge required, how to research and write stories, and the preparation and study they need to do for a journalism career.”

Apply now for A Levels at WestKing.

Consulting with Arcadis: a Virtual Masterclass in becoming Career Ready

Students on Westminster Kingsway College’s Career Ready Programme were treated to an online masterclass on 23 April with renowned global design and consultancy firm Arcadis.

The Career Ready Programme is a prestigious year-long employability programme for disadvantaged 16-18 year olds, which prepares them for the world of work and their future success. Together with a network of employers, the programme consists of three main parts: mentoring with an experienced professional; access to a series of employability masterclasses; and a summer internship where they apply their knowledge and get real life work experience.  

Due to the current lockdown, the ‘Live Industry Insight’ masterclass took place virtually via Microsoft Teams with Arcadis’ Management Consultant Laura Reynolds, who covered everything from what a Management Consultant does, to diversity in the sector and why working for Google is perceived so well.

A presentation slide about management consulting

The masterclass proved popular with 25 students taking part. Laura spoke about her career to date, how she became a Management Consultant and why academic qualifications are not the be all and end all to forging your way in the industry.

A presentation slide about management consulting

She also discussed her recent project with a technology client, who were looking to roll out new ways of working and deliver a cutting-edge workspace, to be leaders in their industry. Laura explained that the average cost of a single desk space in London today is roughly £10,000 per year. With a large workforce and space challenges in cities, a more worthwhile use of space is to match it to usage patterns by providing more collaborative and creative spaces. Laura talked through the process of finding innovative solutions to maximise productivity and drive down costs whilst keeping the client company’s ‘fun’ ethos.  

During the masterclass students were highly engaged and posed questions on progression in the sector and tips for success. They really enjoyed the masterclass, with one student commenting: “It was good to know about the different jobs you can do and how your qualifications and also interests can help you stand out and have a successful career.” Another student said, “It was really interesting to hear from someone who has been in a position that we will be in and the decisions they made while there. The thing I’ll take from the event is that she did the degree she loved and then found a job she enjoyed.”

Afterwards Laura told us: “I had a fantastic time hosting the first session for WestKing’s Career Ready’s Virtual Masterclass series. As a management consultant working at Arcadis, I hoped to give the students a flavour of what it is like to work in a fast-paced, client-facing environment for a leading engineering consultancy. I volunteered because I wanted to challenge stereotypes that might exist in students’ minds about what “type of person” a management consultant is. The students were incredibly engaged and responsive, posing challenging questions and displaying to me that they really connected with the essence of what management consulting is and that they had a sincere passion to grow their own careers.”

Carlo Liu, Employability and Progression Lead at WestKing said: “Now more than ever, young people – especially those who are disadvantaged – need to be able to boost their employability and showcase their talents, which is why we are continuing to connect our learners with employers and industry with live activities like this. The Arcadis team were involved in planning the session, to ensure our learners had an interesting and insightful masterclass. It was a great live session!”

Driven by its success, the Employability Team aim to host a masterclass for each curriculum area during the lockdown period, ensuring that as many students as possible can benefit.

If you would like to find out more, please contact our Employability and Progression Lead, Carlo Liu, at carlo.liu@westking.ac.uk