University and the jobs market: Interview with The Courier alumna Kayleigh Fraser

Does uni really prepare you for jobs and the real world?

Sam Norman
28th February 2023
Image credit: Kayleigh Fraser
Yet another success story from Newcastle student media, upon her brief return to campus, I discussed the looming anxieties for students as they face the jobs market upon graduation with Kayleigh. 

So it’s nice to see you again! You’re starting a job with the Northern Echo, right?

Next week is my official start date!

And how was the process getting that job? Assumably alongside studying your masters?

It was a fast process, honestly. I had an online interview, then a few days later I had the offer, it moved really quickly.

What will your official title be there?

‘Trainee Reporter’

Girl boss job, so how did you come to find the job?

So, when starting my master's, I had no idea I’d get a job like this alongside. It was actually my friend, they had the job, and I realised, wow that’s cool, then when the vacancy came up, I quickly applied, and then, yeah, the rest!

Would you say then, as you began your masters, you had no plans for a job of this calibre alongside?

No, definitely not, not a clue. I looked at grad schemes, none of them stuck out. I applied for The BBC, didn’t get through. I had the mindset of summertime, get a job, and that just completely flipped. 

Prior to this, were you even aware it was an option to have this kind of job alongside studying?

No... I think a lot of people see university as cause and effect. You go to uni, then you get a job, they don’t mix together – like a one step process and you cant combine the opportunities. It’s refreshing to see these opportunities arise, especially for media students, usually they’re on a voluntary basis. 

We’ve established there’s a definite lack of awareness – does responsibility lie with the universities to fix this?

University is what you make of it. It’s your job to excel and get involved. They can preach opportunities to you all you like, but it’s on you to take action in yourself. You say you “want a job in journalism,” well do something about it then – it’s all cause and effect.  

As I’m sure you know, Newcastle loves a good job fair, do they do enough today? Newcastle’s ‘Discover Fair’ had Shein and Frankie and Benny’s, is this where they should be plugging jobs?

With job fairs, there’s a clear lack of media related jobs or companies in attendance; that definitely doesn’t help at all. The journalism world is already so marginalised within institutions, by the time we get to job fairs it’s majority all stem and engineering – or marketing, Jesus Christ, I don’t want marketing! 

On that note, would you agree immersing yourself in student media is the best strategy for media careers?

Yes – a thousand percent. You can’t expect opportunity if you don’t put in the work to do it. Any little experience is the best, even if it’s scary. I was a girl who was too scared to go to freshers, and then there I was, presenting on NUTV. It’s terrifying but get involved as much as you can. 

Looking back, how do you feel that you had to discover opportunities through friends rather than University guiding you?

My tutors have always given good guidance, and they were happy to do references, but it is networking that is key, especially in these careers. It is unfair to place sole responsibility on the university. You have to get up and do it, they tell you to network… so set up a LinkedIn or a Twitter and actually use it. Get yourself out there and connect, send people DMs, they’ll respond, if anyone messaged me asking for advice, I’d be more than willing to help. These people are passionate about the industry and want it to grow, so of course they’d help. I guess my central message is the university can guide you, and they do, but it is on you, no one is going to come to you, you have to go to them. 

Final question: if you could have dinner with one dead, one alive and one fictional person, who would they be? 

Okay, killer question, right. Fictional: Steve Rodgers but specifically post super soldier serum, like the fog is just covering him leaving the pod. Alive has to be Donald Trump, I want to get inside that man’s head. And dead… Princess Diana, could ask a few interesting questions there.

Amazing, well, thank you for doing this, Kayleigh!

Of course!

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AUTHOR: Sam Norman
Head of Current Affairs 23/24. Campus Comment Sub-editor 22/23. BA English Language and Literature Student.

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