The coronavirus pandemic has, to say the least, been disruptive. Many journalists continue to work from home, but imagine doing so having just moved to an unknown city.
This is true for Kira Taylor, a journalism graduate from Falmouth University who moved to Brussels in September after being offered a six-month paid placement with European independent media network Euractiv.com.
Taylor was initially unsuccessful in her application after completing a writing task and initial interview. However, she was contacted again seven months later and was started working for the organisation last month.
During university, she began to specialise in political journalism both in her coursework and in wider roles. She was the political editor of her student newspaper The Falmouth Anchor and volunteered as a political reporter for local news site CornishStuff.com.
Now energy and environment reporter for Euractiv, she writes about geopolitics, narrowing in on fossil fuels, climate change and biodiversity.
Journalism.co.uk spoke to Taylor about landing her new role after various setbacks, hitting the ground running in her new beat and what it was like moving abroad two weeks prior to a national lockdown.
Mastering the job search
As many graduates will relate to, Taylor applied for dozens and dozens of jobs after finishing university. Many were rejected, others ignored, and on one occasion she says, the employer simply admitted they did not have a chance to look at her application because of the fierce competition.
The key to the job search is knowing to look in the right places. You will find journalism jobs in various corners of the internet, but they will probably be highly sought-after positions.
You can find less competitive positions through your contacts. She found her current position through her university lecturer.
Being open-minded about work experience
During university, Taylor - the budding political journalist - gained a week's work experience at Shell through a family member. At the time, she did not think it was relevant to her career, because it was focused on researching how Gen Z would impact climate policy. She still took the opportunity when it arose, thinking it could still come in handy.
She is now reaping the rewards of that decision, because that work experience helped to cement knowledge of two topics which are vital to her current role: energy and climate change. That helped to advance her job application to Euractiv.
Her political reporting came in useful, too. When she covered Brexit from the perspective of her local area, Cornwall, that familiarised her with fishery and agricultural policies - crucial topics when reporting on the European Union.
The lesson is to be open-minded to opportunities that come your way as they could one day prove crucial to a future beat. It is also important to embrace your hobbies and passions.
"Do not just think about work experience as you have a whole range of knowledge that other people may not have," she says.
Adjusting to working abroad
Moving to a country she had never visited before during a pandemic, Taylor had more to think about than just starting a new job.
This includes registering for a national identity number, applying for health insurance and setting up a bank account, most of which has had to be done online, and in one of Belgium's three official languages.
Her minimal French has helped her to get by, but she recommends others who want to work as a journalist abroad start to pick up a second language.
The same could be said about the impact of Brexit. Taylor's Irish passport means she does not have to worry about her residency status, but those wanting to work in Europe should have this at the forefronts of their mind.
Her final piece of advice? Especially now with coronavirus restrictions, be resourceful and take advantage of online resources.
For example, join expatriate groups on social media, interview people via virtual coffee, or go the extra mile to research the ins and outs of something complex like the European Parliament.
Looking for a job in the media? Subscribe to our daily newsletter and keep an eye on our jobs board for the latest announcements.
Free daily newsletter
- How journalism students can stand out amongst their peers
- Tip: Get tailor-made career advice
- How did you get your first job as a trending writer?
- Paul Ostwald, co-founder of Forum.eu, on launching a media startup in a pandemic
- Virtual work experience scheme that pairs students with freelancers is back