Having graduated last year from The School of Journalism with a first-class degree and gold-standard NCTJ diploma, Olivia Burke shares her experience of landing her first journalism job.

What is your job? 

I’m a world news reporter at News UK.

My first journalism job is quite the jump from reporting on my hometown, Manchester, which I was able to do during my degree at The School of Journalism by writing for Mancunian Matters.

MCR is my bread and butter, but it seems like I’m not bad at taking on the globe too!

What do you do on an average day in your role?  

On an average day, I source and produce stories from across the world using all manner of content – video, text, stills and graphics.

It’s my job to interpret and present news stories for our readers to engage with.

Although journalism has inevitably modernised in recent years, the basic principles remain the same – reporting factually, fairly, and first.

Social media has remoulded the conventions of news consumption, which has somewhat made a reporter’s job a lot harder. News is now accessible in seconds – so we have had to up our game in response.


Have you written a story you are particularly proud of since graduating?  

Since graduating, it’s been quite the rollercoaster ride. I have been fortunate enough to cover some huge stories in my new role, and some topics that have been particularly close to my heart.

Reporting on stories about women and children across the world particularly resonates with me. Although they are often unspeakable atrocities, it’s my job to shine a light on these global issues.

It reminds me how lucky I am to be in this privileged position, and if my reporting can somehow make a difference to at least one person, I can go home happy.

How did you secure your current job?

I had previously worked at News UK on a casual basis at the start of this year, so I was armed with some inside knowledge.

But I simply applied for the role, and before I knew it, the world news editor had gotten in touch to discuss the specifics… and when I could start!

My extensive experience, which was only made possible with the School of Journalism’s summer bursary, gave me the confidence and the know-how to walk into a serious reporting role fresh from graduating.

Find out more about the School of Journalism’s summer bursary scheme here. 

What was your biggest lesson from your training with The School of Journalism?  

I learnt a lot of valuable lessons during my degree, but there are two that seriously stuck with me.

Firstly, experience, experience, experience! Anywhere and everywhere you can. Use your spare time to build up an online presence and show people what makes you unique.

Secondly, build your contacts. Creating a strong network of relationships is key to building a career in journalism. It really is true what they say: it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

How did your degree course prepare you for your first journalism job? 

The hands-on nature of my degree at the School of Journalism was pivotal in preparing me for the fast pace of a newsroom.

We were treated like real reporters from day one, allowing us to learn from our own mistakes and each take our own individual path.

Each of us were pursuing completely different passions and ideas, and the School of Journalism tailored our experiences around these.

Being the first ever cohort at the School of Journalism, we were the trailblazers, the guinea pigs! But I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of people to enjoy this with. Cheers to the class of 2020!

Read about how 100% of Olivia’s cohort achieved a gold-standard NCTJ Diploma in Multimedia Journalism – a record-breaking achievement!

Do you have any advice for people choosing where to study journalism?

I could not recommend the School of Journalism enough. I’ve spoken to plenty of other people who have chosen to study journalism at other institutions, and the courses are incomparable.

There is not the same accessibility to resources, the flexibility to partake in internships, or the encouragement to follow your own personal direction.

The one-to-one access to our tutors and knowing we could – and still can – get in touch with them at any time is something I am extremely grateful for.

Having the opportunity to gain an NCTJ qualification on top of my degree was definitely the icing on the cake.


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Do you have any advice for current journalism students?  

Question everything, take knock backs on the chin, and build your brand.

It’s a competitive game, so it’s inevitable you may run into some obstacles. But if you stay true to yourself, share your personality, and build up a rapport with your readers, you can make the reporting world your oyster.

Journalists have an important role in distributing information: we have the ability to provide an alternative perspective to readers, an opportunity to change their minds. And it’s important we never take that responsibility for granted.

Want to find out how to get an entertainment journalism job? Read our interview with News Associates alumna Beth Kirkbride here!