Published in TSA.
I’ve grown up in a generation completely immersed in technology – or, more specifically, the internet. In recent years, the media has exposed people who have made their living not through curing cancer, or designing an aircraft fit to commute to the moon, but more simply by using the internet each day to connect with the world.
I was only around half way through my four-year English with Journalism and Creative Writing degree when I realised the value of having something to show for myself online – a portfolio which employers could access conveniently. I feared the day an employer would search my name on Google and be met with a mortifying, block-coloured Bebo masterpiece or selfies from my 16th birthday party – pre-grown-out-fringe – instead of my best work. This haunted me so much that I spent the summer wiping out all evidence of my youth locatable on the web and replacing it with something much more up to date and beneficial: a blog of my best writing.
Studying journalism had motivated me to seek work experience within various student newspapers across Scotland, including The Student Advertiser, Scotcampus Magazine and the Strathclyde Telegraph. Writing for these publications led me to more opportunities elsewhere, and so, in no time I found myself with a hard-to-close binder full of poly pockets, printed web pages and by-lines.
I’m interested in theatre and lifestyle, and so I write many reviews of performances, events and exhibitions happening in Glasgow as well as composing articles on student living. Student newspapers are abundant in Scotland and are providing a firm foundation for me to hopefully build up a career upon in journalism further down the line.
While being fortunate enough to actually have a portfolio did fill me with motivation to continue building it, the decision to keep it housebound was out of my hands given the sheer size of it. It spent all of its time gathering dust at the bottom of my bookshelves only to be spoken about and never seen in the flesh – which was not exactly ideal when it came to asking larger firms if I could intern with them and they wanted evidence to prove I had actually written before.
In April, I started an online portfolio on WordPress which is the one-stop source of all my published articles as a student. Every time an article I have written is printed or uploaded online, I am able to publish a new post on my blog and embellish it with images, GIFS, links to the article on the publication’s website and direct traffic to my social media pages. Having URLs of my work enables me to share my articles on Twitter and Facebook, where I am able to connect with people interested in what I write about and do the same with their writing.
While the initial decision to make (what felt like) a website about myself was daunting, and piled on the pressure much higher than I ever cared to let on, looking back on these past five months I am able to see that it was the best thing I could have done for career.
When applying for a grant from the Creative Scotland and Young Scot Nurturing Talent Fund ‘Time to Shine’ I was able to provide up-to-date samples of my work by linking my blog. Through my blog they were also able to see more examples of my work, my references, my achievements and my social media accounts – all which played a part in my successful application. Similarly, when I wrote to the Daily Record asking if I could attend during the summer for work experience, I submitted evidence of my work by linking my blog at the foot of the letter. The journalists I spoke to during my week in the Trinity Mirror offices constantly reminded me of how important it was have a complete portfolio of my work because student journalist is the number of by-lines I accumulate out with my studies.
I’m not interested in ‘followings’ or being a blogging superstar like the young people who have made their living through YouTube today. Though, actually having somewhere online where I can share my work motivates me to keep on improving as a writer. It just so happens that it is also opening doors for me in ways that I never could have imagined.