Credit: Nicole Baddeley (above)

If the thought of job hunting straight out of university seemed daunting before, spare a thought for this year's graduates doing so in the midst of a global pandemic.

But all hope is not lost. Many graduates are still getting their big breaks, and one of those is Nicole Baddeley, who graduated this May from Bournemouth University with a bachelors degree in Multimedia Journalism.

She is now a digital trends and feature writer for Newsquest, the second largest regional and local newspaper publisher in the UK. She writes general and evergreen news stories on trending digital topics for the publisher's local websites in the South of England and Wales.

Baddeley spoke to and offered her best tips to job seekers hoping to crack the current market.

Make the most of your university experience

"My heart just exploded," she says, recounting how she breathed in the moment when her application had been accepted.

In truth, Baddeley's time with Newsquest pre-dates graduation. She had been working as a freelancer there in her third year to gain more work experience. She was then in the best position to apply for the job when it came up.

But her portfolio also proved crucial. Her university had put her through the paces of covering the 2019 UK general election and attending a three-week summer school at the Salzburg Global Seminar where she reported on NATO developments. Both of which were optional, but she had the work ethic to take both on. As an NCTJ-accredited course, that was also a big boost to her application.

The lesson is that success depends on how you make the most of the opportunities presented to you. When picking a course, she says that students should consider what experiences the university course offers. While at university, take any opportunity to develop yourself. In the end, that will be crucial to your job prospects.

"I wouldn’t have been able to get this job if I wouldn’t have had the experience, and if I haven’t tried as much as I did at university," she explains.

Best skills for working in a pandemic

We are all adjusting to the working dynamics brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Baddeley says you have to show versatility in these times, but equally, never has it been more crucial to be well-organised.

"Because I am a digital trends and features writer, the bulk of my job is pre-planning what's going to come and how we can respond to it."

Employers will want journalists with good forward-planning skills and the ability to stick to a busy-yet-tidy calendar. You can demonstrate this in interview with good preparation, timekeeping and having a few topical story ideas ready to pitch.

Find your drive - and do not lose sight of it

Baddeley put high expectations on herself at university. Her fear of failure spurred her on to stay motivated and meet the next challenge.

"My driving force was the fear of dropping out and not being [good enough], so I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it," she explains.

And not much has changed now. Whenever she faces a challenging moment at work she thinks of ‘"the sinking feeling of quitting" to get through it.

But her passion to tell people's stories and speak out against injustices also prevails.

Her final advice? Find your drive, she says, and do not let anything steer you off course.

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