You always know that students enjoy a good guest speaker; it’s clearly great for them to hear from someone who spends all day every day out there in industry.
But the deeper benefits of a good speaker programme, like our one here at USW’s Atrium campus in Cardiff, surprised even me (and I help to organise it).
Amongst the feedback from last year, for example, one of our BA Journalism students said:
“I wrote a feature and pitched it to one of the guests as a freelance story…. the end result was that I walked away with an offer to join the team on a short-term basis with eight pages in the next issue of their magazine.”
Another one smartly chose a dissertation subject that meant interviewing people in the industry, and networked with our guest speakers to build up a superb list of contacts. That student, not surprisingly, was working in television within weeks of graduating.
And if you don’t fancy a job in journalism, let the speakers show you the way. One student wrote:
“Content marketing – the ideal job I never knew existed…if there’s one lecture that’s genuinely made me think of future career choices, it’s that one.”
We’ve had speakers hiring students, students coming back as speakers and hiring students, and speakers just being on hand for advice and encouragement well after they’ve done their allotted time on the podium.
But when you add them together, you get another benefit, which students remarked on in their feedback. It’s an understanding of how the pieces in the jigsaw that is today’s industry fit together; an ability to make sense of a world in which former boundaries are blurred and where industrial-scale recruitment of trainees by a handful of big employers is a distant memory.
None of it, of course, would work without the warmth and enthusiasm of our guests, so here’s a belated thanks to, amongst others:
- Jonathan Davies, a recent USW graduate, who spoke about his career in content marketing, and the transferability of journalism skills
- Bill Coles, tabloid journalist and author of Red Top: Being a Reporter: Ethically, Legally and with Panache. Hilarious.
- Jasper Blakeley broadcaster, voice coach, personal presentation trainer and more. Equally hilarious.
- Gary Baker of Wales and West Media, SME Wales, and sports journalism
- Anwen Rees, BBC music programmes producer
- Adrian Masters, political editor ITV Wales/Cymru
- Steve Owens, USW radio graduate and now social media manager of the Evening Post, Swansea, and recent USW BA Radio graduate
- Chrissie Webber from the USW Business Loft on entrepreneurship and start-ups
- Huw Edwards of the BBC, a bilingual presentation
- Lorna Dunkley of Sky TV News, another USW graduate!
- BBC Radio Wales editor ,Steve Austins
- Paul Symonds, documentary maker, Rondo Media, talking about the series My Tattoo Addiction
- John Williams, communications director, Welsh Rugby Union
- Richard Gurner, editor of the Caerphilly Observer hyper-local start-up
This year’s programme is taking shape now. More about that, and more thanks, later.