Wednesday, June 13, 2007

At the crossroads (and on briefly bumping into a literary celebrity)

Not much has happened over the last week apart from the entrance exam I took last Thursday for the 6-month NCTJ course in newspaper journalism. I found out on Monday I passed (which is great!) the entrance exam but it all depends on me passing my degree first so I’ve got that to worry about now. I’m still job hunting – those student debts aren’t going to pay for themselves! I am, in effect left in academic and financial limbo even though I know I’ve invested a good deal of time in my degree and not as much to become a ‘journo’, but I live in hope.

On a lighter note, I arrived an hour early for the entrance exam in a depressing corner of South London and I was still a little bleary-eyed so I went looking for a caffeine hit in a quiet little café where I could do some last-minute revision. I stopped into a cornershop and asked for directions to the nearest café and there stood beside me was the tall figure of literary genius, satirist and general ‘Grumpy Old Man’ Will Self, he was just picking up his morning paper and I was…well asking the shopkeeper for directions to a café.

Will Self: Grumpy old man

Will turned to me and said “There’re so many café’s around here, take your pick mate” (or something along those lines, I was too awestricken to remember what he said) and then he proceeded point me in the direction of a small Portuguese cafe. So that was probably the highlight of the week for me.

I am falling way behind in practicing my shorthand in preparation for the journalism course and haven’t got anything near the required £800 I need for it. Well that’s all for now, back to job-hunting for me. I’ll probably post something tasty and less mundane later on today.


melanie said...

mmmm i love tasty!

fun times. I moved to CA last year, and have had a few celebrity sightings. Its kind of wierd they really are just normal folks like you and me huh?

good luck on bringing home the mooola!

aspiring journo said...

Hi there,

I'm about to take the NCTJ entrance tests and was wondering if you had any info about what's included in them? I'm struggling to get hold of any tips!

another aspiring journalist

The Hard-working Slacker said...

Aspiring journo,

Sorry about the late reply, not sure if you're even going to see this but if you do, you should just go to the official NCTJ site and navigate to the page where you can download a copy of the mock entrance exam as it's almost identical in format to the actual entrance exam.

All you need to do is keep right up to date on the news both national and international because the last section is a multiple choice one of current affairs questions. And naturally you've got to know a little bit of how to summarize a long story (basically clean it up) and have a good grasp of the English language and grammar.

And that's that, hope you did well and passed!

Liz McMahon said...

I am in the same boat as you but have been teaching for five years so feel a bit out of my depth with all this further learning mullarkey!
I applied to do a course at the LCC but it was cancelled due to lack of govt funding (bloody Brown). I have just applied to Lambeth College and am waiting to hear back from them. I am teaching up til Jan so will want to start in Feb. Do you know if it is a good course?
Thanks for the tip on the mock NCTJ- I am quite worried as it will be pretty embarrassing if I don't pass! I will go and have a look now...

Liz (yet another aspiring journo)

The Hard-working Slacker said...

Whoa is this embarrassing! Not only have I not updated my blog for a while but people such as your kind self still drop by every now and then. I must be doing something right!

Yep the course at Lambeth College is great despite my initial grumblings on the area itself. The course tutors are all enthusiastic (something I never got to really experience in my time at Uni; i.e. not much room for real tutor-student contact when you have 300 students to teach). They all truly do practice what they preach and if they don't they make it blatantly clear and luckily have a good laugh about it.

On a more practical note, the course fees have gone up from the £825 I paid this Feb to a ridiculous £1200. A figure even our course leader found depressing. But if you can afford it, do it. I'll tell you this now, it's a good idea to start practicing Teeline shorthand (get a book called 'Teeline fast' by Ann Dix) early on as you'll need to get upto 100 words per minute by the end of the course.

Lastly the Feb-July term of the course - the one I'm on right now, tends to be better as there's no xmas break viz partying/hangovers and other social ahem 'observations' to deal with. Which results in more productivity plus the weather gets better and everyone in class gets perkier which is always nice!