I didn’t get either of the jobs I wrote about in the last update. But I did get some detailed feedback from Congleton, which was helpful yet quite baffling. A section of the editor’s e-mail reads: “I thought you’d make a very proficient chief reporter, to be honest — you’re obviously organised and like taking control, plus seemed sensible and hard working.

“Ironically that put me off having you as a trainee — we’ve had such people before and they can be hard to control. Remember that all trainees basically know nothing — it’s a matter of appearing competent but not too cocky or experienced.”

To me, this seems slightly nonsensical. It’s a very fine line between arrogance and confidence and it seems that editors think I’m straying across it, despite my best efforts to find that perfect balance. I understand that editors want journalists they can mould into their own style. Perhaps I’m appearing too strong-willed but that has not been my intention at all. I want to be moulded. But I need to make sure people know I’m capable.

That double blow of rejections made me feel quite down for a few days. I couldn’t get my head round being told I’d make a good chief reporter in rejection for a trainee role and didn’t appreciate being told I know nothing after getting into £20,000 of debt while spending three years doing a degree, although I do accept how much graduates still have to learn. It was lucky the London Graduate Fair came around quickly to perk me up.

I sat on the Media Moves panel alongside two Guardian journalists (LJ and Graham Snowdon) and Julian Linley, ex-Heat editor and Craig Hanna from econsultancy and felt I gave a reasonable account of myself after overcoming strong initial nerves. I even got a bit of card with my name on it, something I’ll definitely be keeping.

The whole experience buoyed me, being around successful professionals and finding out exactly what it is they want from graduates seeking work. It almost feels like I’ve been stumbling around blindfolded for the last few months and now I can see where I’m going and what path I need to take. I hope the graduates that attended the fair got as much out of the event as I did. The feedback from Congleton, the first meaningful and useful response I’ve had from a paper in four months of applying for jobs, has also helped to open my eyes to what I need to do to move forward.

After the fair I was collared by Chris Denholm from youthnet.org who interviewed me on my tips for other graduates in my position. I’m wary of becoming an ‘expert’ on unemployed journalism graduates, but there’s no doubt that being given the opportunity to write this column has made people aware of me. Maybe I should use the boost to my public persona, or brand, to my advantage.

I’ve decided I definitely need to finish off my NCTJ qualifications and I’m looking at the most suitable options for me to do so. A fast-track course starting in the New Year seems to be the best option for me but I need to decide quickly in order to sort out finance for the course and where I’m going to live. I also need a flexible course, as although it would be handy to re-cover some things I’ve learned, I don’t want to spend eight hours a week learning shorthand from scratch when I already have a qualification in it.

Another course would also give me the chance to develop much-needed cuttings files and contacts books, get good work experience under my belt and to pick up multimedia skills. I’m really keen to learn how to use a video camera properly (I’ve not touched one since making a rubbish Blair Witch Project-style-film at college) and to use video editing software as I think this area is one that many journalism graduates are guilty of neglecting.

But it would mean leaving home again, not to mention getting into even more debt, so it’s a big decision. I know I’m getting too comfortable with my current routine of unpaid articles, part-time bar work and getting my washing done for me. Moving away again might be the best thing I could do.

Meanwhile, I moved my online portfolio over from Blogger to WordPress and was immediately much happier with the result. Being able to add pages has given me the chance to build a much more impressive site and I plan to develop it further.

I even had a crack at making a short animation film of myself, in kind of a general covering letter, using a site called XtraNormal. It’s pretty silly and will have my former classmates creased up with laughter if they see it but hopefully it shows I have the ability to think outside the box and to try new things to convey information.

This article was written for the Guardian.

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