As the journalism department prepares to celebrate its 40th year, alumnae Mickey Carroll and Lucy Palmer took time out of their busy (but exciting) schedules to tell us a little bit about their student experience at City.
So student life at City, what was it like?
Mickey: I loved it at City. I joined in 2012. When I first got to London, I came from the fields in Cheshire, my dream was to just live in London and be a journalist at some point. So, I got here and I was full of enthusiasm. I emailed my favourite journalist at the Guardian and wrote ‘I’m at City and it’s very exciting’. And then I went for the most awkward coffee in the world with him. That kind of spurred me on so for the next 2 years.
I was really keen – I was keen the whole way through but I was working for lots of local newspapers and stuff and became really obsessed with journalism. I got on really well with my tutors. So that was useful.
I went to Denmark in my third year – I was studying TV foreign correspondence. I arrived thinking I was going to be in a city like Copenhagen. But when I arrived I realised, ‘this is not Copenhagen! This is Aarhus’ – which is a tiny tiny town, smaller than the town near me where I grew up.
At first I just freaked out completely and then realised that the course was amazing. It’s one of the best course for TV foreign correspondence in Europe. I ended up really loving it and got to meet the most amazing people and just had a great time. I came back and worked in the industry for 6 months; part-time at the Economist Educational Foundation, part time at an all-female production company and a month at the Sunday Times.
Lucy: My three years at City were probably the most challenging and rewarding years of my life. You’re in London so, although it’s expensive, if you want to be a journalist it can be full of really unexpected and rewarding experiences.
I think the best thing that City gave me would be the skills I’ve needed to do what I’m doing right now. The course put us under pressure in terms of deadlines, and expecting a lot from you. The support from the lecturers was amazing. They really genuinely invest in you as a student of theirs and they want you to do well.
I think City helped me realise that, if you’ve got the drive to do it, you can be a journalist. I came from an arts background so went to university a bit later than most. At the time I really wasn’t sure what I was doing, or if journalism would be right for me. I walked into City’s journalism department and immediately thought, this is exactly where I want to be. Still, to go from making puppets and strange light instillations to journalism was terrifying. Thankfully, in my first week I’d written an article about a homeless charity that got homeless artists’ work up in cafes in central London. It ended up going into City Magazine – I was so excited and remember thinking oh my god maybe I can actually do this journalism thing.
Mickey: One of the great things about City is that the tutors are so well connected and they helped to put me in touch with other people. And I’m still in touch with lots of people from journalism.
Any advice to current or future journalism students?
Lucy: I would say just do as much work experience as you can, take opportunities and really push yourself because it doesn’t get easier. You will never have more time when you graduate and whilst you’re at uni you have a seriously amazing safety net and support network.
Mickey: Make the most out of the lectures and the lecturers because they will help you immensely if they think you want it, talk to everyone and take every opportunity.
Mickey and Lucy are now both journalists at The Economist Educational Foundation.