A Q&A with some of the 2017 Graduates!
Graduation is something that every student across the world strives to achieve, I mean it’s why we’re all here isn’t it? This year’s graduation saw some very well loved students achieve their dreams, and get the grades they always hoped for. I was lucky enough to get a chance to talk to some of this year Class of 2017, to discuss how they were feeling after finishing their degree, and what advice they could give to those of us embarking on a new university journey, and others as they continue their degree.
I chatted with Danielle Easton and Mark Wakefield, both Journalism graduates as they embark on their own journey of being out in the workplace, and our very own Steph Compton, as she gets ready to do her Masters Degree in Publishing!
How do you feel now you’ve graduated? Has it sunk it yet?
Steph: Something sinking in and accepting it are two very different things. Since graduation day I’ve known that my degree was over, but I didn’t quite accept it; perhaps that’s part of the reason I opted to come back for a Master’s. I suppose I feel the same things everyone does when they graduate. Proud, happy, a little tired. The main thing I felt though, was relief. There were so many times throughout my degree when I doubted that I would achieve the grade I wanted, even whether I would complete the course at all. Actually making it to graduation can be quite the confidence booster.
Danielle: It’s really strange and surreal really, it still feels weird not having to prepare for uni! Especially for me as this time last year I was preparing to leave home for my last year! So no it definitely hasn’t sunk in yet!
Mark: It feels strange to be honest, I don’t honestly feel like I’ve graduated, maybe because I’ve been lucky enough to get a job straight away I don’t actually feel like I’ve left, mainly because I’m in the industry professionally now I guess.
What was your favourite part of your time at Derby Uni?
Steph: Phantom, obviously! No? Okay. There wasn’t much not to like, really. Besides the 9am starts, those are never good. I think one of the things I liked was that you are treated as an adult and like a real person. Staff don’t talk down to you or condescend you like they do in schools and colleges. Lecturers are supportive in the ways they need to be but will also join you for a pint after class. It’s great.
Danielle: My favourite part would genuinely be meeting the people on my course and having the independence! I made friends with the best people whom I’ll remain close with for life, I also had such a good and close relationship with the lecturers so that would be my highlight!
Mark: One of my favourite parts was always when a deadline had passed and I knew I had submitted it the work and it was over! But I also have to say meeting my best friend for life was one my favourite parts as well.
Tell me one of your fondest memories of your degree.
Steph: There are quite a few! Most of them involving me doing embarrassing things, naturally. The one that springs to mind was during my second year. I fell asleep during a 9am lecture and a member of staff who shall remain nameless hid some of my belongings for me to find as punishment. Turns out they don’t appreciate you falling asleep, don’t do it kids!
If I had to pick a serious moment, it would be the video shoot the Union of Students did for ‘celebrating success’. How often do you get to come to uni and play with baby goats AND snakes? Absolute no-brainer.
Danielle: Believe me there are so many memories but my fondest memory would probably be going to media city and meeting real life journalists, television presenters and literally being live on air with the breakfast team. It was such a surreal moment and I was literally in awe, television is a passion of mine and I spent all day smiling from ear to ear, I’ll never forget the trip ever. I even got advice from a television presenter who emailed me directly!
Mark: For me personally, the thrill of finding a breaking news story and being the one to break it out was one of my favourite parts. Especially when getting an interview with someone who no one else has got and being able to have an exclusive. Don’t get me wrong, doing the journalism degree is one of the most stressful experiences I’ve ever done, but on most days it can be the most rewarding.
What advice would you give to students about to start their final year?
Steph: Keep your head on straight, and always find a balance. It’s very easy to slip into working constantly and not finding time for anything else. Remember you still need to look after yourself by doing the basic things, like, you know, eating. You might laugh but it’s easy to forget. Socialise as well. Friends and course mates during third year are invaluable.
Danielle: Enjoy the course and just have as much fun as possible. I used to worry and stress far too much but now I realise how fun journalism is and I genuinely miss it already. It goes so so quick so I would enjoy it while you can!
Mark: I have two pieces of advice that sort of go hand in hand really; the first one being don’t leave anything to chance! When it comes to interviews, always have a backup plan for stories and assessments, the number of times an interviewee has cancelled on me I’ve lost count. The second piece of advice is do as much as possible well in advance! This is also mostly interviews, get them in the bag done early and then you can worry about editing and stuff later. For example, on the multimedia portfolio module, I had all my interviews done for all seven stories by February and the final deadlines were in April. And for my dissertation, I had already had a rough thesis before the year had even started!
What advice would you give to those about to start university for the first time?
Steph: Don’t panic. This makes me a total hypocrite because I did just that. Also, don’t go too far the other way and sign up to everything you see and overwhelm yourself. When you sit in your new lectures and feel totally lost, and you will at some point, don’t worry; you will not be alone. And watch out for that Fresher’s Flu.
Danielle: My advice to those starting uni would be to cherish every moment. Similarly to my last answer your time there goes so quickly it’s unreal! Make friends, get stuck in and just have so much fun! It’s three years of my life that I’ll remember forever and I genuinely wish I could do it all again. Concentrate and focus but also learn to have lots of fun along the way!
Mark: Try and make friends sounds cliché but it is true. Throughout your degree you’ll need people by your side willing to help you and vice versa. Also, looking back first year is a piece of cake compared to the final year so just try and enjoy it as much as you can, the first year is just about bedding into the course, no real pressure of high marks, just getting used to the environment really.
What’s the most important lesson you learned during your time on your degree?
Steph: I think it’s that there is more to university than just the degree. My attitude over the three years changed dramatically. I used to think turning up to lectures and going home to do the work was all that was important. Not so much. While your degree is important, obviously, to get the most out of your three years you have to expand your horizons. You might find one or two societies that are perfect for you, or make a group of friends in the flat next door. There’s something out there that suits all of us, for me it was Phantom Media. You just have to be willing to look.
Danielle: The most important lesson that I learnt on my degree would be learning to be able step out of your comfort zone and just dive into your fears. I never thought I would sit in front of a camera let alone volunteer to do it in front of 50 strangers on opening day!! I learnt that if I didn’t face my fears I could be held back from succeeding and I genuinely believe that my first came down to me believing in myself and just giving my all- even in unfamiliar circumstances!
Mark: The biggest lesson I learned is probably that if you put the effort it, you’ll almost certainly get the reward for it. If you work and really care about what you want from your degree and life in general really, then it will give it to you in return!
Thank you to Danielle, Mark and Steph for allowing me to ask you these questions, you all have done so amazing and from all of us at Phantom, we’re so proud of you for what you’ve achieved!
Good luck to everyone starting university this year, I hope to see some of you at Phantom gatherings one day! If you’re not sure whether to join, be sure to look out for my post on ’10 Reasons Why You Should Join Phantom Media’ later on this month, that should help persuade you hopefully!