Today we’ve been speaking with Thomas Hanley who graduated from the BA (Hons) English course in 2016. We asked him about getting his first graduate job as a Reporter.
Thomas Hanley – BA (Hons) English graduate, University of Cumbria
Where are you from originally?
I’m originally from Dumfries, Scotland.
What made you choose the University of Cumbria?
I was offered places at both the University of Glasgow and the University of Cumbria. I opted for Cumbria as I received a personal email from Dr. Stephen Longstaffe which detailed the strengths of my application and how he felt the course could help with my personal development.
Which course did you do?
BA (Hons) English
Why did you choose your course?
I’ve held a passion for reading and writing ever since I was a child, and felt that the English course could help me turn my passion into a future form of employment.
What did you like most about your course?
My favourite part of the course was engaging with peers and lecturers who held a similar passion to me. The varying forms of assessment also ensured that the course was challenging yet enjoyable, while helping me to develop into a proficient and well-rounded communicator.
What is your current job title?
Which company do you work for?
I work for DNG Media, the largest independent publisher in Dumfries and Galloway which has four weekly newspapers, a website, and a range of specialist publications.
What does your role involve?
I research and write on local events and human interest stories, reporting on a wide range of subjects including politics, business, sport, entertainment, and arts and culture. I interview people in a range of different circumstances, and attend council meetings, court proceedings, and sports matches.
What was the application process for your job like?
I had to attach a cover letter and CV that I targeted specifically for the role I was applying for. I was then invited for my first interview.
How did you prepare for your interview? Any tips for others?
To prepare for the first interview, I ensured that I was aware of what DNG Media offers as a company, as well as having a strong knowledge of the areas it reaches and covers. I took time to read some of the companies’ print and online product in order to gauge what I felt its strengths were, and if I could identify any areas where I could bring fresh ideas or perspective. I also made sure I understood and could adapt the writing style DNG Media employs, as it varied greatly from the style used for academic assignments.
What was the interview process like?
The interview process saw me attend a first interview. I was then asked back and tasked with rewriting a police press release in house style. Finally, I was invited for a second interview, where I was subsequently offered the role.
Were there any surprises?
In hindsight, I feel that my knowledge of politics within the region could have been greater. Although confident in my knowledge of national politics, I should have recognised that I was applying for a role reporting on local news and therefore knowledge of politics at a local level would have been more valuable and relevant.
If you had to say one thing to someone aiming to get a job like yours what would it be?
I would stress the importance of taking on work experience and extracurricular activities. With the job market being as competitive as it is, especially in an occupation like journalism, a degree alone is no longer a guarantee of employment. I would also advise that being a good writer does not always equate to being a good reporter. You need to be confident and tenacious to make sure you get the story you are after, while holding the capacity to step over the line and ask the questions that many people can’t or won’t, but would love the answers to.
Want to find a job like Thomas’?
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for advice and support.