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Too old to become a journalist – The NCTJ fast-track course: say so long to your social life

October 24th, 2008Posted by in Training

I am now on week seven of my NCTJ course at Lambeth College, London.

As previous posts to the Journalism.co.uk forum will prove, I spent a large amount of time wondering whether or not to do an NCTJ course – was it worth the money and the time? Did I want to concentrate on news when I was a features writer?

I spoke to a few working journalists in the hope they could make the decision for me, but surprisingly opinion was mixed, especially in the dreaded shorthand debate (a national newspaper journalist I know doesn’t have a word of shorthand).

With the benefit of hindsight here’s my two-pence on the NCTJ:

It’s worth every penny.

Even if you want to be a features writer the NCTJ is a well-recognised qualification within the industry. There is a magazine equivalent but I’m not sure if it’s so well-known or respected.

I can only speak for the course at Lambeth but I am staggered by how much I already know about journalism, the government and the law and I can’t imagine walking into any publication – features or news – without it.

The Lambeth Course
The fast-track course at Lambeth is only 18 weeks. It’s Monday to Thursday and they expect you to spend your Fridays on work experience. The homework and revision has me working literally all the time.

The fees are £800 (international £3,390) at the moment and, according to the college website, are set to remain at that level for next February and September’s courses as well.

After that there is talk of the fees going up to a couple of grand. I found other NCTJ courses in London cost around £3K and some were wildly more expensive so at the moment Lambeth is great value for money.

While Lambeth College and the surrounding area may not be the most attractive place in London or the world (if you want leafy go to NoSweat), the course has an excellent reputation and pass rate.

The entry exam will see you writing a news story from a press release and quotes given to you. My story was about 500 plastic ducks that had been found on the local village pond. Yes, I did put: ‘Villagers thought they were going quackers…’ With phrases like that you better hire me before I get snapped up.

There is also a current affairs test with the usual questions like: ‘Who is the Chancellor?’ etc.

Once you’re on the course it is broken down into four sections:

Journalism
Mainly geared to hard news writing but I’ve found it really sharpens up feature writing as well.

You are taught what makes news and how to sub your copy to within an inch of its life to make your writing clear and concise.

It’s pretty formulaic but a quick read of any news story in a newspaper, national or local, applies the same principles.

Favourite quote from the teacher so far: “This is probably the hardest exam you will ever do.”

Law
Using the trusty tome ‘McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists’ you deal with all aspects of media law. Defamation made me want to lie down in a dark room. You also get out in the field: we went to the Jean Charles De Menezes inquest this week.

Public Affairs
Or ‘how central and local government works’. It’s an absolute minefield and I have no idea how councils function with the amount of regulations they must adhere to. Very interesting stuff however and satisfying when you read the paper and see what makes the political news – Russian Yacht trip anyone?

Favourite quote from the teacher so far: “If the council like you, then you’re not doing your job properly.”

Shorthand (Teeline)
Ah, the beast you must tame. To pass the exam you must be able to write 100 words per minute (this is only a C grade however, in other words, just a pass).

That’s a tall order in only 18 weeks but it can be done. The teacher says you must do two hours a night practice and she ain’t joking…

It’s two hours a night or re-take the exam. I am at around 50wpm now and it’s only week 7 – cue the ticker tape. If I can do it anyone can.

Favourite quote from the teacher so far, said after a discussion on the importance of keeping letters neat.: “If your colleague walks under a bus, then you need to be able to translate their shorthand.”

You also have to complete a portfolio of work, i.e. cuttings, but these don’t necessarily need to be published.

If you’re currently doing a journalism course, at a college or at a distance, then let us know how it’s going in the comment box below. What’s good, what’s bad?

It would also be interesting and helpful to hear from industry people with their thoughts on the NCTJ:

  • Do you think it’s worth it?
  • What are your criticisms of it – the video and online aspects perhaps?
  • Would you hire someone with an NCTJ over someone without?
  • What do you think of the magazine equivalent course?

Calling all feature writers and magazine editors – NCTJ, do you need it?

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  • s.

    Good that its working out for you. Was talking with a mate of mine at a paper who did a similar thing in the West country — intensive, low-budget but got him where he is with minimal wasted time and money. Seems like the best plan in an uncertain environment. In fact, I rather wish I’d done the same myself. I did a course at City uni that wasn’t bad, but wasn’t nearly as efficient, time and money-wise, as yours.

    1. It wasn’t really a course in International Journalism, which to me would involve detailed instruction on different markets, various environments for journalists (e.g. shield laws in the US, kisha clubs in Japan, censorship in Singapore, etc), global job-related contacts, etc. It was, pretty much, a course for international students wanting to study journalism. Not a bad thing, but a bit of a red flag when you realise that…

    2. It cost a lot more than the other courses. And that’s *before* you add the usual hefty mark up for students who are actually foreign. And this despite…

    3. No more than a couple of classes of legal tuition. The official reason was that since there were so many international students and many of them return abroad, it would be pointless to teach them UK law. Well, except that a lot don’t return. And even if they do, how about at least a quick spin round the legal hazards you could most easily run into in the world’s bigger journalistic markets? Would be handy for job interviews/freelance pitches at least. On the subject of which…

    3. Course turned out not to be NCTJ accredited, something they don’t mention, while trumpeting it for all the other courses. i.e. it’s very easy to just assume they all have the requisite accreditation. Admittedly my fault for not checking that, but again, how hard would it be to get some kind of industry body endorsement, even if not the usual suspects? It sits right alongside courses that have similar, after all. Would have been nice to have had it flagged, anyway.

    Don’t regret doing it, but do think investing less time and money, and taking a more intensive, cheaper course, would have been less risky. Well done on your choice. Best of luck w/things once it’s finished.

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  • Amy Oliver

    I’ve just had a look on the NCTJ website and you’re right, no sign of the City course being accredited.

    Credited courses are here:
    http://www.nctj.com/course_introduction.php?journal_id=journal_id

    Thanks for your post. I always thought City was the holy grail of journalism courses but could never afford the £5K for the course.

    Gimme Lambeth and a bag of chips any day.

  • Mickey Day

    I’m on the NCTJ Fast-track course at City College, Brighton and the course is consuming my life. Every night I’m drilling shorthand like Sarah Palin in an Alskan oil-field, and scouring the web for anything that might prove worthy of a piece for my portfolio.

    There’s an invading sense of panic about the shorthand that spurs you on. 100 words per minute seems like an insurmountable peak, but then 7 weeks ago it might as well have been Hebrew. So there’s hope that a brain battered by 34 years into a damp rag, rather than the youthful sponges of my counterparts, will actually suck enough up to make the grade.

    City College, Brighton is doing a fantastic job at pushing me further and faster than I thought possible and boosting my confidence at every turn. I know now that I can make a career out of this. I just have to bag the shorthand and not keep thinking, “isn’t this why they invented dictaphones?”

  • http://www.eventandroadshowplanners.com Julian Bray

    The entry exam will see you writing a news story from a press release and quotes given to you. My story was about 500 plastic ducks that had been found on the local village pond. Yes, I did put: ‘Villagers thought they were going quackers…

    NO 1 Dump the press release

    POLICE & AGENCIES STEP UP HUNT FOR ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTERS

    Local councillor Janet Inforthemoney claims that more than £750,000 is being NEEDLESSLY spent by Nitwick County Council and other agencies following the overnight dumping of over 500 plastic ducks in a rural village pond.

    The authorities were alerted when dozens of migrating Mosocovy Ducks were found dead and choking on the china sourced toys.

    Farmer Joe Handout,56, from Beatendown Farm Nitwick said: “Its no joke, some of my best prize fresians drink downstream from the river feeding that pond. I’ve had to shoot five cows so far and cut milk production by half, this is the end of my farming career.”

    The Environment Agency commented: “We have already launched an investigation with a view to taking the polluters to court, helped by the fact that a news release and an internet blog identified all those involved.

    Last year the Environment Agency launched over 6,000 prosecutions for pollution offenses, following new legal rules which enables the EA to recover their pre-trial legal fees in addition to any damages award.

    end

    or you could go quackers…

    cheers JULIAN BRAY

  • Tim Holmes

    “Friday’s”? Looks like the subbing is going well …

  • http://www.journalism.co.uk Laura Oliver

    Actually that’s my error Tim, as I subbed Amy’s copy and didn’t pick up on it. Noted, amended, hands held up – cheers.

  • Amy Oliver

    Julian, thanks for supplying this. For the entry exam we were supplied with about three quotes from the police and local residents and were asked to write the story from that.
    I don’t know whether they use the same story for the entry exam – probably not.

    Amy

  • Kizzie

    I’m on the LIverpool fast track at the moment – I’m also about 50WPM – boardering on 60…we have an exam booked on Nov 12th for these speeds..

    I chose Liverpool as I thought I would be an exciting city to study in ( which it is) and alot cheaper than studying in London ( also true). However the fees at 1,400 are slightly more pricey but not as much as most of the others I saw – £3-4 K. I’m quite jealous of the fact that you were able to attend that inquest…

    I think this course is good value for money and I also couldn’t imagine working on a paper without public affairs knowledge or law. I hate the shorthand but I also love the fact that I will hopefully eventually have this skill which is so sought after,useful and difficult!

    I’m wanting to apply for jobs but havn’t seen any…

    I definetley think the news writing exam will be the hardest – in fact I’m dreading it alot more than shorthand. Before I started I assumed it would be the easiest as I’d already had some experience in writing news but the way it is structured is completly different to what I’m used to. It’s like you have to forget everything you were ever taught abbout writing and the quote that got me from my teacher was that ‘journalists on the mirror or the sun are the best journalists in the country’.

  • James

    I am on the noSWeat course in London.

    It’s going well, I suppose. I just hope I pass.

    It’s a real slog though – can’t just turn up and pass!

  • annie

    Erm…28 is hardly ‘old’. Is there anyone seriously older doing this kind of stuff.. Like anyone in their 40s or even beyond that? If there is no one reading, do any of you have mature mature students on your courses?

  • Nazrin

    I am 42-years-old, married with small children and started my journalism degree at Southampton Solent University when the twins were 18-months-old. After a life-time of slogging myself in jobs that I had no feelings for, learning was a revelation, an indulgence and a complete break (during the days) from all things parenting. Most days started early and ended late into the small hours. Despite this, the first year was pretty special. After years of feeling that I was too old to pursue a career in journalism, I sat through every lecture and tutorial in a state of sheer bliss. Learning to write essays was much harder, I had never done it before but I got myself a book and learnt to get on with it.

    I did the first two-years of my Journalism degree full time and took the final year part-time over 2-years. Although my degree was accredited by the NCTJ most of the NCTJ exam revision classes were in the evening and I was unable to attend because of family commitments. Despite this, I worked damn hard to fit in vital work experience and published quite a lot of freelance work. But still, when I graduated in 2007 with an upper second and a prize in journalism, I had no NCTJs to my name and could not afford to sit them until I had an income. Saddled with a student loan, I was lucky enough to get a part-time job as copywriter which lasted until this week. I am now back to square one and after thinking of different options, have decided to sit my prelims. I did think of taking the Highbury journalism fast-track course but just cannot afford to do so and it would mean going over stuff I already know. So I’ll teach myself law 1&2, then public affairs 1&2, and shorthand and sit the others by the end of the year. I will kill to get into a local rag. It’s simply not an option to fail. I’ve come too far.

    So, in answer to your question, I am one of those really really old or mature mature students out there!

  • Amy Oliver

    Hi and thanks for leaving a response. This blog has had a lot of different views which is great.

    First of all to Annie. No 28 is not old by any stretch. There is a man in his forties on my NCTJ course at the moment but there are an awful lot more in their early twenties. I think my point was that I felt older than the average rookie journalist starting out. In fact I had a CV crit with a reporter on a national newspaper when I was 25 and he said time was running out for me then! How nice of him. The point of this blog is to hopefully get people, who have felt worried they might be too old to start out, together regardless of whether they are 25 or 85.

    Nazrin, wow! I can’t imagine doing my course, which is only 18 weeks, while having to juggle children and child care arrangements etc. Did you learn shorthand on the degree or was that part of the evening course as well?

    Shorthand has been the hardest thing for me. We have had to do 2 hours per night practice since the course began in September so I know what you mean about late nights at your desk.

    I have to say though we had the first of three 100WPM exams last week and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. There is a glimmer of hope!

    Really good luck with your distance course. I think there was another person who left a comment on on post doing the same and I’m sure there will be loads of support groups on line i.e. Facebook etc – if not maybe you should start one!

    Everyone on my course constantly Facebook’s each other asking questions or simply telling jokes. It’s a great support. Good luck again and let us know how you’re getting on. Amy

  • http://www.thenewjournalist.com The New Journalist

    Great article, but if you find the 18-week course difficult, you’ll struggle in a newsroom.

    I think this is probably just a case of time management. I passed all sections – two of them after resits – and I’m not the brightest penny.

    With the intensive course (which I did) you should only need an hours PA revision a week, because the standard of knowledge needed for a pass is stupendously low.

    Maybe three hours of law revision a week would be good too, and a good hour of shorthand every night is recommended.

    Don’t overdo the shorthand though. It’s far better to do an hour a night then ten hours over the weekend, just a little at a time.

    I recommend always using a dictation tape or CD at home, or put the files onto your iPod so you can do it on the bus or the tube.

    Make sure you’re listening to dictation 20wpm quicker than your current standard for 80 per cent of your revision session, drop it by 10wpm for 10 per cent of the session, then finish at your current level. You’ll get there in no time!

    Best wishes

    The New Journalist

  • Petch

    Hi,

    Just found your blog from the journalism.co.uk forum. Looking in to the fast track course and to break free from the tedium of crap job after crap job.

    I’m also 28, and was thinking maybe i’m too old, “i’ve missed the boat” etc…

    £800, what a steal!

    p.s good luck with the course, don’t stop believing! *cue inspirational music

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  • Nazrin

    Hi again,

    Thanks for your comments Amy etc. I am now about to start revising law and public affairs to sit 4 exams in May. I still don’t have shorthand but will aim to sit for 100wpm in November. Too much too soon for me will be a disaster. However, will start it and see how I get on. How hard is the law anyway? Any idea of the pass mark? I’ll be grateful for any comments. For all those oldies like me, keep going!! cos you are not alone….xxx

  • glennmc

    hi,

    im 36(!!) and about to send off my app. to lambeth college but am a bit concerned about my pure engineering background and ‘pass’ degree (too much partying in those days!). i’m pretty up on my current affairs and political structures etc, have worked with journalists in palestine, wrote some well received articles (although not published) and have even been offered an internship on the al-jazeera english website should i get on the course, but wonder if the competition for places will be too strong for me. eg good grade history/politics students with published work.

    would appreciate any info. on this!

    cheers

    glenn

  • Amy Oliver

    The criteria for Lambeth is a degree or equivalent. They don’t ask you for your grade or subject, you just have to have one. I think the nature of the course is so tough they don’t expect undergraduates to be able to cope with the pressure!

    You are then invited to sit an entrance test. This is a current affairs quiz and I had to write a short news story from a press release and quotes – basically the news exam.

    There was no interview – the lecturer said you can make up any old crap about yourself that would sound good and she would have no proof it were true or not. The test is supposed to speak for itself. This no nonsense, on-the-job attitude is Lambeth’s mantra to reflect, I’m sure, what you would get in the newsroom.

    The fact you have already written pieces and been invited for work experience is a plus for you (you can use non-published work in your portfolio should you need to for example), not for getting onto the Lambeth course.

    I’d say go for it. What have you got to lose?

    Amy

  • Lauren

    This blog is brilliant. I have been following it for the last few months and just wanted to say what an excellent recourse it has been for me. Deciding whether to invest time and money taking the NCTJ course is a daunting decision. Reading honest and frank articles from some one who has been there, done it and got the t- shirt gives me so much more confidence in making my decision.

    Thank you so much for researching and writing this, the comments from fellow students have also been very helpful.

    Just wondering about student’s experiences of actually finding a job after the course – I recently read a Media Guardian article about how journalism is an industry which has been hit really hard by the recession and the future looked very bleak.

    Lauren

  • http://bond-tss.co.uk Jeannette

    HI

    Found this blog by accident – I’m a Teeline shorthand teacher in the West Country and found it very interesting.

    Keep going Nazrin – you have done so well and are nearly there – good luck to you all. A lot of my students have gained their jobs by doing work experience at newspapers offices

    Jeannette

  • Kat Udal

    Hi
    I am currently looking into persuing my education on the NCTJ course in London. However, I cannot seem to find any information about age limits, I’m 16 and just started my A2 levels, I’ll be 18 when I leave college next year (one of the youngest, I hate it.) Around this time is when I was looking at joining the course but will I be too young? I know sport journalism is what I want to do (my dad has a big influence on that as I have been bought up with sport) but will I be too young at 18? I really don’t want to go to uni and this seems perfect… Can someone let me know please! I will be very grateful
    Kat Udal

    P.S: I have booked a place on the free workshop in July too.

  • Catharine

    Hi,

    First of all, thanks Amy for providing this forum. It is great to hear from people who have done or are doing the fast-track course.

    I had my entrance exam and interview for the 20 week course at Darlington College yesterday. I find out next week if I get a place but at the minute I’m just trying to come to terms with the prospect of being a hermit for five months…

    From the experience I’ve had so far I’m more Features orientated but the more I talk to writers and qualified reporters, the NCTJ newspaper course seems like the best platform to launch a career in any aspect of journalism.

    Thanks
    Catharine

  • kizzo

    Has anyone experience of doing the NCTJ Part time?

    I spoke to a Journo at the holy Beeb that told me doing an MA was a waste of time – any comments folks?

    I started to look at PG dip etc on NCTJ website and was looking at Press Associates and NoSweat. I will definitely not discount Lambeth now. Has anyone any experience of the former? After hearing how intensive it is I am thinking to just attend the college that is the closest to my home/office.

    I keep having nightmares about leaving my job, completing the course and not getting a job so I’m keen to hear from part timers. The Part Time MA at Kingston requires attendance 3 week days per week – not exactly what I had in mind. Any one got any advice? Or is Part T

  • kizzo

    time a mistake?

    Does anyone also know if I can skip a few legal exams having done a law degree?

    PS – 28 is new 21. I’m 28 too and a load of my peers have also changed direction after five years or so of waiting for the weekends. An american friend of mind tells me its something to do with the moon shifting around the age of 27, he is a little crazy, but I bought it!

  • Jeff

    Speaking of Americans, moon cycles, the NCTJ, and being over 25:

    I am from the US, my mother has cautioned me about Saturn returning because I just turned 30 and if I can swing it — I’m seriously considering an NCTJ course in London this coming March. Visas do present something of an issue, but I’m working on that…

    My initial plan was to apply for the International Journalism course at City University and do the NCTJ afterwards.

    Have any of you met Americans on your courses? If so, how did they fit in? Could you put me in touch with them?

    And thanks for the awesome website, Amy! You rock!

  • Celia Osborne

    Hi Jeff,

    I think it all depends on what you can afford. In my opinion if you can’t afford to go to City don’t, just do your NCTJ. If you can afford it do the City course and don’t bother with the NCTJ. Going to City opens up a lot of doors but I am proof that if you work really hard and are determined, on a normal course like Lambeth you can do just as well – I’m currently into my 3rd month of the Daily Mail trainee scheme.

    There weren’t any Americans on our course I’m afraid so I couldn’t tell you. I expect there were lots at City. I suggest you get in touch with their HR department to see if you can speak to a few of them.

    Good luck. Let us know how you get on.

    Amy

  • greg goudling

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who is finding it a hard slog. I’m at Cornwall College and have just failed my PA exam. Passed Law and have Shorthand later this week. No social life for the six months living down here, lucky that Cornwall is dead over the winter!

  • Amy Oliver

    Hi Greg,

    Sorry to hear about PA but I always thought it was a lot about luck more than anything. There’s no way you can learn the entire PA course fully so predicting what subjects will come up and learning those inside out helps. Have a few back up ones as well. I don’t know when you can take the exam again but my advice would be to carry on revising right up to it. Otherwise you’ll forget everything. Hope the shorthand went well.

  • http://frontcovered.wordpress.com Ruth Harrison

    Hi Amy,

    Really enjoyed reading your post. I am studying the PGDip at Cardiff University and know how you feel/felt! My life has been completely taken over, but I am really enjoying it.

    I have my PA exam after Christmas and I am slightly dreading it. Can I ask a cheeky question and find out how many questions there are to choose from on the exam?

    Hope you are enjoying whatever you are doing now.

    Love Ruth

  • Kathryn

    Hi Amy et al, really interesting reading all your posts as I too am 28 (where did my 20’s go…?) and am thinking about a change of career and doing the fast track NCTJ in London. I’ve just got some doubts about financing it and getting a work placement/traineeship once I’ve finished. I’m not quite sure what to expect and really haven’t got that much writing experience (other than an English degree) but alot of people have encouraged me to do this….so any info on surviving without a salary and getting your first job would be GREAT! Cheers, Kat

  • Jeremy

    I’m currently deciding what NCTJ course to do and the Lambeth one is calling out to me, however my concern is that I’m very reluctant to leave full time permanent employment to do it.

    It’s frustrating that there’s so few part time NCTJ accredited courses in newspaper journalism in London (and the U.K – I’m prepared to consider moving away) so the one at News Associates in Wimbledon is an option – does anyone have experience of the course there?

  • Sophie

    I studied at News Associates and i cant recommend it enough. They have the best news writing results out there and really good shorthand tuition. Lots of practical exercises, really engaged tutors and their full-time reporters are around for advice.
    No Sweat doesn’t have a great reputation but I don’t know about Lambeth – sounds good to me but what are their results like?

  • Ben Bouckley

    I have just started an NCTJ student support group on Facebook, called (oddly enough) NCTJ student support group! Please feel free to join — am sure we can all help each other crack these exams.

  • http://www.journalism.co.uk Laura Oliver

    Hi Ben – sure it can be found quite easily, but feel free to post a link in a comment to the group.

  • Will W

    Hi all, good chat.

    I am currently in the process of deciding between offers between News Associates (short track NCTJ) and City (Newsp J MA). I really like the sound of both, but the reputation of City stands out. I just don’t know if it’s worth it though at 8 grand.

    NA looks great and I am probably going to go for that. I would love to hear from people who have done the course there (pop me an email: willw101@hotmail.co.uk) to find out how they got on.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Will

  • Nicki

    I am studying an nctj, I work full time and have a two year old daughter. I passed my two PA exams and now have the rest to tackle. With the PA exams, make sure you use examples of news, it boosts your marks. The course has taken me longer than two years but I will get there. I am 32 and panicked that I was too old but I know that i will be a journalist. Good luck to you all. Dreading the law exams, so much to remember ! Wish me luck in November when i have to sit them.

  • Ben Bouckley

    http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=117060608323356

    That’s the group link Laura! Good luck with the exams Nicki, it is worthwhile. I have just got what I consider to be my first really decent job in journalism at William Reed Business Media (who publish The Grocer) on the back of NCTJ study during several months of redundancy.

    For all budding magazine journalists out there, the course is not as well-known throughout the sector, but the more serious employers are aware of how rigorous and worthwhile it is. At interview the fact I was studying the NCTJ and had already passed just one exam played very well. The distance-learning aspect also impressed them as evidence of commitment.

    I guess before this I marked time from 2006 at smaller companies where the journalistic standards were a little less rigorous, there was less interest in developing staff, etc. Perhaps this is a necessary career course for all of us aspirants nowadays, but the truth is that I am sure I could have gone further faster if I’d done these exams 10 years ago. But then, what school careers advisor back in 1997 would have told me this?!

    A final note to Will. Why not try a distance-learning course? I am doing one through Cleland Thom (he sends through assignments for you to complete via email and marks them by return, supplies necessary textbooks through Amazon, you enter the exams separately at £34 a pop.

    Tutor support is via email and Skype, which was daunting initially, but he has a really good journalistic pedigree and really takes the time. The key thing? You’ll save yourself thousands over a university course, and can work at your own pace. Don’t want this to be a plug — will simply say it is working extremely well for me.

  • Nicki

    I’m studying with Cleland too. Amazing teaching !

  • nazrin wilkinson

    Hi just caught up with this blog and I am so thankful that it is still going! I will be sitting my exams in November but since the last blog write up have found work with a radio station and a free newspaper in London but still want to sit my exams. Thank you to you all for being so great, you have no idea how much this blog has given me inspiration to continue!

  • louise

    Hi, this blog post is brilliant, thanks Amy. And congrats to Nazrin!

    I wondered what you might think about the NCTJ magazine course that is run by NoSweat and probably some other institutions.. I’ve spent the summer interning at various magazines (I graduated in languages, no journalism qualifications) and would love to get into features writing. The consensus I get is that you don’t need a qualification to make it, but most of the people i’ve spoken to that are relatively new hires *do* have qualifications… I spoke to an editor at a national mag and she said she wouldn’t *not* hire someone because they were unqualified, but a sturdy qualification does help her see people in a positive light.

    Anyone completed a magazine course? They seem to be shorter (and cheaper) than the newspaper ones, but not sure if they’re just considered a ‘lighter’ version of the newspaper NCTJ..

    Thanks, Louise

  • http://www.journalism.co.uk Laura Oliver

    Hi Louise,

    It might also be worth having a look at our forums and posting your question there too – http://www.journalism.co.uk/journalists

  • louise

    thanks laura, good idea! will do…

  • mena

    hi,

    just wondering why No Sweat has a bad reputation? I am due to go into second year German at university but would rather complete an NCTJ course over 6months and go into the real world. Has anyone completed the No Sweat magazine course? And does anyone know if London College of Communication journalism FdA is NCTJ accredited because that is another option!?

    Thanks,

    Mena

  • Nicki

    If you have the time alongside your degree, do an NCTJ distance learning. Cleland Thom offers NCTJ Courses in newspaper and magazine journalism. Cheaper than doing a fast track that’s for sure !

  • http://paulynlloydwriter.yolasite.com/ Paulyn

    I read this prior to starting my fast-track course at News Associates Manchester. I have since written several articles on my website that may be helpful to all those taking the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism please take a look.

    http://paulynlloydwriter.yolasite.com/journalism-nctj.php

  • Sara Hailan

    Hi, I’m really interested in applying for an NCTJ course at Wimbledon.
    Was wondering what advice someone could give me about the entrance exams and what to expect?

    Thanks
    Sara

  • http://sarahmarshall3.tumblr.com/ Sarah Marshall

    Hi Sara
    You will get a better response if you post this question on the Journalism.co.uk forum

  • Nicki

    I passed my two law exams in November first time and now
    doing my second work experience placement. I am one of many unpaid workies who is getting the cuttings for my portfolio and loving the experience.

    I’m 34 and probably one of the oldest in the newsroom but once I have newswriting and shorthand then I can seriously start sending out job applications ! Next exam is in April – wish
    me luck.

    All the best to everyone, it’s hard juggling distance learning and a full time job with family commitments but I know it will be worth the hard slog eventually.

  • Pagan Tordengrav

    800 wow that’s cheap! It’s costing me 4,170 for 18 weeks – so far I have developed a benign tremor, a tick in my left eye and nervous exhaustion – and it is only week 7!

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