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What Lies Ahead?

What lies ahead?
7 min

At a time when Leaving Cert students are considering CAO offers as well as all the other life choices, they have to make at this time of year few people entering college will be focusing much on what happens after graduation. But maybe they should.

This theme was touched on by former Irish Times editor Conor Brady last weekend in his Sunday Times column. He had heard the Griffith College Jump Ahead ad campaign – Our journalism graduates get the best scoops. Yes, we like it too!

The media work environment is different from most others. Collaboration is key, yet an individual effort is everything. The work is challenging and demanding but the entry level wages are low. It is all about the ageless skill of compelling story telling but the tools to do this with are ever changing.

Griffith graduates can write well, but they can also create great social media, award-winning photographs, video and radio documentaries They can design web pages and social media strategies as professionally as they can interview and investigate.

Leaving college you want to take the first steps in your career, and in the media world these are sometimes the most challenging.

What lies ahead after graduation was Conor’s question? So we thought about it at Griffith and asked Newstalk reporter and presenter Henry McKean a former Griffith graduate about his graduation experience...

Henry graduated twice from Griffith, first he finished what is now our BA in Journalism in 2000 and took a year off travelling in Australia. He came back to Griffith entering the final year of our BA in Journalism and Visual Media finishing in 2002. He wanted to be a radio DJ but ended up in talk radio. He applied to a range of stations targeting the new start up Newstalk who had just got a Dublin talk radio licence. Now they are an Ireland-wide brand going head to head with Radio 1 and local stations.

Henry kept ringing and writing to the station, he describes his early career as one of “lots of setbacks and false starts”. Eventually, his persistence paid off and Henry got a call from a news editor asking him to come and do some work experience as a researcher on a programme called Late Night Live. He started doing Vox pops for this programme, this lead to freelance work and later the offer of a rolling contract from the station. (The Journalism and Media Communications Faculty has a formal work experience programme with Newstalk now)

Then came a daytime arts show. The programme was dropped but Henry was kept on ending up on the Monday to Friday Moncrief show where he is still a daily feature along with radio and TV documentaries as well as slots on the Pat Kenny show.
Right now he is working on two diverse programme ideas, they are on pocket money and homeless children. Henry says that in TV less than one twenty projects actually make it to broadcast but he wouldn’t swap his work for anything else.

“I get paid to do something I love. I don’t love it all the time, but most of the time I do. I love the process of meeting people and making programmes. There is always something else, another day, another challenge”.

In the early summer, I had a tour of UTV Ireland’s base in Dublin’s docklands. There were Griffith graduates in various positions. Killian Murphy a 2013 BA in journalism and visual media graduate was a floor manager. 2007 graduate Neal Cummins was the Communications Manager. News Editor Mick McCaffrey had arrived at UTV Ireland off the back of two books, news editor at the Sunday Tribune and crime reporting at the Evening Herald and the Sunday World. Finally, there is Chris Donohue anchoring their late night news programme.

It shows that a media programme can put you in a wide variety of jobs. It will be hard and challenging, but I think Griffith graduates wouldn’t have it any other way!

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