Case study

Media and communications undergraduate — Grace D'Souza

Grace is studying for a degree in media and communications at Cardiff University and perusing extra-curricular student media to strengthen her CV and prepare her for a career as a sports journalist

What's life at university like?

At first, it was very overwhelming. In my first year, I felt very lonely and homesick as I had moved from London to Cardiff, but after Christmas when I had developed friendships with people on my course and my flatmates, I felt a lot better. I found it helpful to make the most of sports clubs and societies to help you make friends.

What career support have you received from the university?

I have attended careers and placement fairs at Cardiff University to encourage students to think about their future after university and consider taking a placement year if they need more experience before graduating.

As part of my 'Employability' module, my lecturer, who is also a careers adviser, has given us the opportunity to have our CVs and cover letters checked and assessed to improve our chances of getting interviews and jobs at world-class businesses and companies.

What programmes have you been involved in outside of your studies?

 I was selected to join the Elevate Programme, run by Trevor Gomes from BT, as I had attended several extra-curricular workshops to improve my business knowledge, and I had been predicted a B at A-level. ELEVATE is an award-winning youth mentoring programme that equips young people from disadvantaged backgrounds with the skills, knowledge, and experience they need for the world of work and higher education. As a mixed-race White Asian woman, I was drawn to the programme because I knew it would be a positive way to help me build my confidence, especially in an industry where women face prejudice.

As a youth board member, I've enjoyed being involved in decision-making about the social media content we put out, and I interact with the social media posts myself. Since joining the programme, I've developed a growth mindset and grown in confidence. I've also gained communication skills and networking knowledge.

How do you balance your studies and extra-curricular activities?

 Time management is essential for student journalists. As sports editor at Gair Rhydd, the Students' Union newspaper, my biggest challenges are deadlines and managing my time between my extra-curricular activities and my degree coursework. To avoid getting overwhelmed by a heavy workload, it is important to plan your time well and work around your timetable. It is also important to have a good work-life balance.

How are you preparing yourself for your future career?

I aspire to become a sports journalist, and I believe my extra-curricular experience as a sports editor and content marketer makes me a strong candidate. 

My content marketing role at Axis during my gap year gave me experience with Adobe Creative Cloud, Canva, and Issuu, which has made my role as sports editor much easier and has allowed me to further develop my skills over time.

The biggest rewards of being a sports editor are the networking and experience. My articles have been printed in the newspaper and can be viewed online by employers. We are also the first to hear about new opportunities within student media - this gives us the opportunity to get involved in new and exciting projects to showcase on our CVs.

Tips for new students

  • Networking and socialising are key - to succeed in your career, I learned that sometimes 'it's not about what you know, but who you know', so networking on LinkedIn is essential. Engaging with people in industries and businesses you are interested in is important, so you can gain insights into the careers and sectors you wish to work in. Networking can give you access to career mentoring schemes, which can help you develop your career successfully and become a great leader or manager in the workplace after studying.
  • Live in the now and embrace every moment of university life - your time at university will fly by so quickly. Embrace the social life because you will regret it otherwise.

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