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New blog series: Am I too old to become a journalist?

October 2nd, 2008 | 36 Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Training

“So you want to be a journalist,” declares the college leaflet or job advice site.

Yes, of course you do but what if you think you might be too old, have no proper training, did not go to Cambridge or Oxford, have no relatives in the industry and all the other clichés people like to trot out? What if you have all of the above but still don’t seem to be able to get a job?

I have just started a fast-track NCTJ course at Lambeth College in London at the grand old age of 28 and before that I was freelancing without any proper training.

When I finally decided to become a journalist I had loads of questions. Everything from whether to do a course, what ‘off the record’ really means and whether my hoovering to working ratio was slightly unbalanced as a freelancer.

Everyday the Journalism.co.uk forum is peppered with similar questions – well, maybe not the hoovering one – from would-be journalists.

This blog series isn’t designed to tell you what to do to become a journalist. Instead it will chart my progress through the 18-weeks of what is turning out to be utter boot camp – 2 hours per night shorthand practice anyone?

Any work experience I do will also be covered as will networking events with views and opinions from seasoned hacks and the gruelling task of actually getting a job at the end of it.

Hopefully it will dispel some of the myths surrounding the NCTJ and whether you truly need it to succeed – the industry from a rookie’s point of view – and be an agony aunt of sorts to questions like ‘help, I want to be a journalist, but don’t know where to start’.

Amy Oliver has been meaning to become a journalist from about the age of 5, but got slightly sidetracked by the possibility of earning money. She has been freelancing since 2007 and in that time has written for The Times, The Guardian, You magazine, Vogue, Vague Paper as well as local newspaper Bridport News in her hometown of Bridport, Dorset.

She has just started a fast-track NCTJ course at Lambeth College and blogs about her experiences as a slightly mature trainee and not going down the conventional route into journalism. She lives and works in London.

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