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Life after university: journalism and media alumni share their stories of finding the right career

The alumni panel with (left to right) Matthew Brannen, Simon Crowe, Matthew Bebbington and Katie Mather

By Richard Liddle

A panel of Leeds Trinity University graduates have told of their experiences of finding the right job after leaving university.

Matthew Bebbington, Matthew Brennan, Simon Crowe and Katie Mather – all former journalism and media students – took part in the panel as part of the university’s annual Journalism and Media Week.

They highlighted the struggles of finding work after leaving university, the pros and cons of both freelance and full-time work and the range of careers available to journalism and media students.

Matthew Brennan, who works in the civil service, said: “It’s not what I expected off the back of an MA in Journalism, but it gave me the skills to be good at the job.”

He found his early years as a journalist difficult due to the lack of job security, saying it was bad for his mental health.

“There’s a lot of casual work, a lot of non-guaranteed work… I didn’t know if I’d still have a job if I took two weeks off,” he said.

He then joined the civil service, which has given his work schedule more structure and allowed him to plan for the future.

“It’s never too early to think about your pension,” he said.

Katie Mather, who now works as a freelance writer, had almost the opposite experience.

“I was bored out of my mind,” she said of her first job at a marketing agency.

She went on to use the contacts she had gained across five years in her marketing role to become a freelance writer focusing on food and drink, as well as running her own copywriting agency.

“Now I have no money and the work consumes my life, but I’m happier,” she said, adding that freelance work allows her to tell the human stories she’s interested in.

Matthew Bebbington has managed to find a compromise, working full-time as a video editor for West Yorkshire Police and using the money and job security to support his freelancing activities.

“It’s very rare that something like this comes along, but I was always looking… If I want to pay for improving my freelancing, something has to pay for it,” he said.

He added that being able to help people through his work with the police is rewarding – and helps him cope with the often distressing footage which he has to edit.

Simon Crowe, meanwhile, has put the skills he developed in journalism and media studies to use as a social media executive for P&B Media.

He said that one of the things he enjoys in his work is the constant rotation of clients, giving him the opportunity to manage the social media of celebrities such as musicians Wiz Khalifa and Lil Pump.

Simon told the audience of students that his aim had always been to work in the kind of area he’s now in.

“I didn’t think I’d be in traditional media at all, I didn’t really care for local or regional media… but I was really interested in new media,” he said.

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