The Pressures of Being a Student Journalist

Being a student journalist does not come without its struggles. From facing the rejection of possible pitches to dealing with writer’s block, it is not an easy career path to pursue, and its uncertainty is prone to leave you lacking hope from time to time.

I can’t remember the exact moment in which I decided to pursue a career in Journalism. For me, writing has always been a passion and a hobby, and I simply started doing it because I enjoyed it. And if I could potentially make a career out of it, I thought ‘why not?’. This leads me to one struggle which I am now beginning to encounter. Over the past year, journalism has simply taken over my free time, and I fear that my passion for the medium may dwindle. Is having a career worth falling out of love with your hobby? I have to say that I have not reached the point where I want to quit, as setting boundaries is key to ensure a good work-life balance. Not piling too much onto my plate and only writing about topics that I am passionate about has helped me to deal with the pressures of the industry mentally.

Yet imposter syndrome and feeling as if you’re simply not doing enough is a feeling which you can’t escape. In a world where one’s achievements are plastered all over social media and LinkedIn, the competitive nature of the industry is really exacerbated, and it’s so easy to feel as if others are doing better than you. Yet the truth is that everyone moves at their own pace. Whatever you manage to write, whether it’s 1 article a month or 10, it is all valuable experience to build your portfolio. Managing journalism alongside a full-time degree is a feat in itself, so you should give yourself credit for accomplishing that!

On the subject of time management, looming university deadline pressures paired with having time-sensitive articles to write doesn’t always make for the best combination (I have admittedly as of late found my degree work to be taking a backseat). Yet the reality is that prioritisation and time-management skills are ones that we all need to craft at some point for working life post-graduation. Being a student journalist simply aids this process, and the hard work now will pay off in the long run.

And what to do after university? From doing an M.A. to completing a short NCTJ course or going straight into work, the possibilities seem varied and, in all honesty, scary. With Journalism being so competitive, everyone has different routes in, and it can’t be said that one is better than the other. Looking at this in a positive light exemplifies that you have many options post-graduation to do whatever you feel most comfortable with.

To any student journalists reading this article, I guess what I’m trying to say is that you’re not alone in this gruelling career path. Whilst moments of imposter syndrome and self-doubt may intrude your thoughts, there is room for us all to succeed. And to any aspiring journalists, I don’t aim to scare you off, as any career has its challenges. Just remember that the hard work will pay off, and you have the world (of Journalism) at your feet.