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Becoming a successful journalist

Anna Walker is an associate editor at the Reader’s Digest. She is involved in both the print and digital aspects of the organization.

Anna’s wide range of experiences from her time at UEA and beyond have contributed immensely to her success in the journalism industry.

 

Trying a variety of internships

Getting internships can be extremely daunting for many students. Anna applied to numerous companies without success, and found it challenging to get an internship at a national publication since she was not living in London at the time.

Instead, Anna did her work experience at a local magazine in her hometown. She realised this was a good place to start because she was given more freedom to try out different aspects of the job.

After graduating, Anna undertook a marketing internship with the publishing house, Penguin. Although a sidetrack from journalism, Anna’s experience helped her understand how the industry works. ‘Sometimes if you’re so set on one career you can miss out on the lessons you can learn from other areas’, Anna says.

Climbing your way up

Anna started out as a junior editor at the Reader’s Digest, meaning she did mostly mundane jobs at work. However, through her constant persistence, Anna ended up doing more interesting tasks such as podcasts. She eventually became assistant digital editor.

A never-ending journey of exploration

Anna was always interested in the digital aspect of journalism. However, she recently became involved in the print version of the Reader’s Digest and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was equally, if not more, satisfying than digital journalism.

Since The Reader’s Digest is a general interest magazine, Anna has been able to try her hand at writing about a range of new subjects, such as tech. ‘You’ll find your voice sometimes in an unexpected place,’ she says.

Finding your strengths

Anna used the resources and learning processes at UEA to help her figure out what she wanted to do after graduation. ‘Sometimes with English it doesn’t feel obvious how you’re going to use your talents,’ Anna says. ‘Every time I told someone what I was studying they said ‘Oh so you’re gonna be a teacher’ and it was really frustrating because that’s not what I wanted at all’.

She started realizing what career path she wanted to go down by writing comment pieces about feminism in Concrete, starting a radio show called Femme FM on Livewire and blogging about feminism. ‘It was just writing something that I was passionate about,’ she says. Anna’s interests have widened ever since, and she now enjoys writing about science and tech.

Challenges faced as a writer

As a writer, Anna admits that learning to be edited was important but not easy. Anna thinks that it is important to learn to put one’s writing in someone else’s hands.

Another huge challenge that Anna faced was having to develop a healthy amount of confidence in herself and in her work. ‘It takes quite a lot of guts to say, “I’m a good enough writer that you should pay me and publish me for thousands of people to read”,’ she says. 

Anna gives her final piece of advice to arts and humanities students: ‘Remember that while your degree is really important, extra-curricular stuff will help you learn to adapt your skills to the working world.’

 

Beverly Devakishen is in her second year at the University of East Anglia, studying Literature and History. She contributes to publications such as Outline and Concrete, as well as other student-based publications such as Diaspora Diaries. She is also the Travel Editor for Concrete. She hopes to get a job in the journalism industry when she graduates.