When starting a journalism degree few students can be specific about where they want to end up. Those who do have life-time ambitions or political agendas. At 20 or even 25 we have just begun our ‘life-journey’ and perhaps those who have already decided to follow a certain path, miss other opportunities along the way.
We talked a lot at University about writing for a niche audience. The best websites and books tend to take a broad view on something very specific. By knowing everything about one topic you can become an expert and that’s a very valuable thing to be. Of course it’s also very challenging, you need to be good at what you’re doing, have a passion for it and be able to communicate effectively about it.
When I started at Cardiff Journalism School I told a lie (sorry guys).
When asked what kind of magazine I wanted to work for I said ‘a fashion magazine’. My Father has always taught me to be assertive and I kind of had an interest in one (The Face, now sadly defuct), but I had NO IDEA what area I wanted to work in. Of course after working on several assignments on local news, social media and feature writing I realised that the chance of me working in fashion was probably nil. I also once attended a conference where a lady spoke from Vogue. She put me right off, admitting their interns do nothing but sort clothing in a cupboard.
After being forced to make life-changing situations at various stages of my young life (11+, GCSEs, A-Levels, Degree) the notion of not knowing where I was going terrified me. But I kept on going doing a little bit of this and that and the bad feeling left. Having now bumbled my way through a year in the workplace I now feel I can dispell the myth that says, you need to know what you want to do in life.
Overcoming the fear
My approach to life has always been, get on with something, get a job and work even if you don’t like it. You’ll work it out (all the time cowering in the shaddow of friends with real ambition). After finishing my Post-grad degree I recoginsed that I needed to do something, ANYTHING to make money and get by. Searching on the internet and following up emails led me to a temporary position copywriting for Greenbee.com insurance company. I then went into interning at some top-shelf titles and just threw myself into anything that took my fancy. Six months (and an internship on a finance website) later I found myself being approached to work on a new insurance website. Now, it’s not something I aspired to do on that first week at journalism school but I love what I do. I get to use my knowledge to improve the company I work with, and that gives me a buzz. So I’m glad I’d not decided to blindly pursue fashion, finance is so much more me.
My advice for finding your niche
- Look at things you like, talk about them, interact with other people who like them, but don’t overanalyse them to the point where you hate them.
- Look at people you admire and see what they studied and where they came from.
- Never think you’re the only one, plenty of people don’t know who they want to be. That’s okay, life’s for finding this out.
- What you are is not fixed. You can change your mind at any time (providing you have no dependents).
- Don’t push against the tide. If an opportunity comes up and it’s not exactly what you wanted why not give it a go it might lead to something better.
- Dream but don’t put your whole heart into something unless you don’t feel there’s any other choice.
- Keep reading. Go to the library it’s free!
- Stop being a teenager and let your family/friends push you a little bit. I once tried out Morris Dancing because my Dad volunteered me. It was a pain at the time but now I’m glad I did it as I’ve got a story to tell. Who knows I might of become part of a Pro Morris Dancing Team in the Olympics (do they do that?) Always bear in mind these are the people that know you best!
- LET YOUR NICHE FIND YOU! It will happen eventually and you may have been pushed or followed the flow to get there, but it’ll feel great.