“The journalism industry is competitive, but not impossible to get into. Getting a degree isn’t enough. You need two things: a portfolio and contacts. There’s one main piece of advice I have, and I really can’t stress it enough: Experience.”
This interview is part of the IPF’s Careers section, which has been designed to offer young people advice on breaking into the media, development and charity sectors.
Having noticed that there is a gap in peer-to-peer career advice and mentorship, we launched this Spotlight On… series. Here, the IPF spotlights young people in the early years of their careers in journalism, charities, and development-related fields with the aim of having them provide first-hand, relevant and genuinely useful information for young people looking to break into similar industries.
In this edition, we spotlight Priyanka Mogul, a young woman reporting on world politics and human rights for the International Business Times UK.
Priyanka Mogul, 23, News Reporter and IPF’s Editor-in-Chief
Can you tell us about your role at the IPF?
I joined the IPF as an intern in its very early days, during my first year of studying journalism at Kingston University. I was pumped from everything I had learned that I wanted to keep the momentum going by getting some sort of experience over the summer. The team comprised of just Natasha and I back then and although my main role was primarily social media at the time, I started writing articles for the site and getting involved in other stuff. Before I knew it, I found myself running the site on a day-to-day basis, with an urgent need to expand the team.
Flash forward three years and I’m now the Co-Director and Editor-in-Chief of the IPF.
I eat, sleep and breathe IPF, keeping the website going (and growing) by working with our section editors to produce engaging and unique content, as well as working with our Managing Editor to come up with awesome ways to push the IPF forward through events and projects. I can honestly say that I’ve made some of the best friends through this platform.
And what about your current role in the journalism industry?
I’m also a Breaking News Reporter at the International Business Times, specialising in reporting on human rights and politics in Asia.
How did you get your first job in journalism?
I started looking for jobs months before graduation and I did get a few interviews here and there, but nothing promising.
Days after I handed in my final deadline, I accepted a job that involved writing about tomatoes for an Italian food and wine website. Don’t ask. I think I was just desperate to have someone pay me to write. I was near breaking point when I got a call from a job I had applied for months earlier saying they suddenly had a vacancy.
Unfortunately, this job was at the Daily Express – a publication that wasn’t exactly the right match for me. It also wasn’t a writing job. My job was to upload articles from the print edition to the website. The shifts meant I was either working from 7am until 3pm, or from 3pm until 11pm. I could never decide which was worse. Regardless, I stuck it out.
It was good experience to be at a huge national newspaper. I had to remind myself of that fact about five times a day.
But it did pay off – that role eventually led to my dream job. When a friend told me about a vacancy at the International Business Times, I applied immediately. Although they don’t usually hire people straight out of university, they took me on because of my stint at the Express.
There’s no doubt that my experience with the IPF also helped get me the job (as well as many internships before that). Almost every job interview has involved an in-depth chat about the IPF – employers were clearly impressed by what we had created. But there were other things too.
Throughout university, I undertook various internships alongside my IPF duties. This included placements at local newspapers, PR companies, online publications, the United Nations Association, One World Media, the British Institute of Human Rights and Index on Censorship. I was determined to combine my passion for journalism with my interest in human rights, and the internships helped me do this. When I joined IB Times as a reporter, I knew I wanted to focus on human rights in India.
Don’t be disheartened by people who tell you there are no jobs in journalism – there are. I would emphasise, however, that you need to be persistent in your job search – send hundreds of applications and you’ll get a shitty job, which will then lead to a better one eventually.
What advice would you give to recent graduates or young people seeking a career in journalism?
The journalism industry is competitive, but not impossible to get into. Getting a degree isn’t enough. You need two things: a portfolio and contacts. There’s one main piece of advice I have, and I really can’t stress it enough: Experience.
Get as much experience as you can while you are at university. Do everything. Get internships, join societies, volunteer at charities. Do it all. I cannot emphasise how much it helps.
Even if something isn’t directly related to your industry, if it seems like an interesting opportunity, do it. You will meet the most incredible people – and they will come back to be extremely useful contacts three years down the line. Trust me on this one.
There will also be times when opportunities that are not so exciting might come your way. Do those too. Something you would never have thought would help you will one day be the thing that makes you stand out from the crowd. Start projects, go to debates and screenings, write a blog. Put your name out there.
Don’t waste your time at uni lying in bed and watching Netflix – there are so many incredible opportunities out there. Do it all. Take initiative. It’s exhausting, but there’s nothing I’m more sure about.
Immersing myself into every opportunity available got me to where I am today, there’s no doubt about it.
What are best and worst parts of being a journalist?
Towards my final year of university I became conflicted between my desire to work as a journalist and my desire to work in the charity sector.
That’s the worst part of my job as a journalist – not being on the ground tackling those issues I really care about.
But on the other hand, you get to see first hand how journalism really can impact the issues you care most about. I’m fortunate enough to work at a news organisation that gives me the freedom to decide for myself what to report on and provides me with the opportunity to report on everything I care most about. Not many young journalists are lucky enough to say say that.
What does the future hold, where would you like to be in a few years?
Honestly, my dream job would be to work on the IPF full time (and get paid for it).
I think the IPF has finally given me that perfect balance of social work and journalism – we have young journalists from all around the world reporting on crucial issues and I learn something new through every article.
We also get the chance to pass on crucial journalism skills to aspiring reporters, and I love that we have the chance to do that.
I love being able to work with aspiring young people to use the media as a tool to raise awareness about different causes.
In October 2016, I’m going to be quitting my job at IBT after completing one year there. I plan on going back to do a Masters that will help me specialise my journalism further – something which I only figured out I wanted to do after spending a year in the industry. I also plan on working on a few documentary ideas to explore issues I have reported on in greater depth.
The world of journalism opens your eyes to all sorts of things – you’ll always be wishing there were more hours in a day.
To find out more about the IPF‘s new Careers section or to seek advice on breaking into your first job, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.