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From Leeds University To Being Insulted By Kurt Cobain: LTU Alumni Reveal Their Career Journeys

Andrew Glover joined by LTU Alumni. Left to right: Andrew Glover, Ashley Colbourn, Danny O’Connor, Joseph Keith and Paul Wroblewski. On screen: Joe Rawson (above) and Isaac Fanin (below).

Leeds Trinity alumni made a nostalgic return to the university to give advice to aspiring journalists and filmmakers.

As part of LTU’s annual Journalism and Media Week, alumni were discussing the varied and unexpected routes they took while trying to achieve their career goals.

Film producer Danny O’Connor, told students how his first job in the industry resulted in him being insulted by Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain in Rock City, Nottingham.

While still being new to the industry and debating how to approach Cobain, O’Connor told students about the unexpected moment that followed. “Kurt Cobain said to me ‘Lie down you no-good Elvis m**********r’…and that was where my work experience took me.” Danny said.

Danny, who attended Leeds Trinity in 1982 never imagined some of his other notable career moments would include being kidnapped in Sarajevo or bombed in Belfast.

“The key is drive”, Danny said when reflecting on his career, “It’s insane but it’s not because I followed my heart, and I followed my brain”. His advice to students was simply to “listen to yourself”.

Alongside Danny on the Alumni panel was Everton PR Officer Ashley Colbourn; Yorkshire Evening Post Editor Joseph Keith; Sky News Sports Editor Joe Rawson; Television Director Paul Wroblewski and BBC Sports Broadcaster Isaac Fanin. 

The varied panel were also joined by host and senior lecturer Andrew Glover.

The alumni discussed how important they felt their degrees were in pursuit of the careers that they have today.

Paul Wroblewski told students: “The degree you do, whatever it is…doesn’t matter if you have a vague focus of what you want to do”. He continued, “What matters is the placements you do, the contacts you make and what you put into it”.  

In contrast, Joe Rawson said he disagreed with Paul and although he knew what he wanted to do from a young age, he realised he needed his journalism degree to be successful. “Without the journalism degree, I wouldn’t be at Sky now” he said.  

Ashley Colbourn told Andrew that although he did a Sports Journalism degree and works for Everton FC now, he believes that he would’ve been just as successful if he had done a more general journalism degree as it would’ve taught him the same key skills.

Similarly, Isaac Fanin, who studied a Sports Journalism undergraduate degree and now works with BBC Sport thought his degree was valuable but said it was his MA in Broadcast Journalism that got him where he is today as it provided him with the work experience that he needed to get his foot in the door to the industry.  

What the alumni all agreed on was the importance of work placements and having a passion for your career.  Paul Wroblewski told students “I’ve never had a job, just a hobby that I love”.

Isaac Fanin gave students some final advice for how to approach work placements, “Be yourself, try to remember the passion that you have and don’t be afraid to pipe up”.

Danny reflects on his career path and gives advice to students

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