Work placement in South Africa

rebecca meets an elephantDuring the second year of BA Journalism here at Marjon, comes the decision of where to go on work placement.  The choice you make can be a difficult one… this could pave the way into your future career. The best way to decide is to go with something you enjoy – from sport to music, there are opportunities everywhere.

I decided to really embrace the freedom of the module and go all out. So, I applied for a month-long travel and environmental journalism internship for a company in South Africa called Africa Media. With all of the knowledge and experience that I had already gained at Marjon, I was accepted to start in February!

This only gave me four months to get up together. With daunting tasks such as booking flights and completing deadlines, so I wouldn’t be overwhelmed after being away from uni for a while. Doing this for myself really helped me improve my organisational skills.

Time to go

The day finally came and it was time to take the dreaded 18-hour solo trip. It’s safe to say I was terrified. After reaching Heathrow airport and saying goodbye to my dad, that was me leaving behind everything and everyone I knew for 30 days and going somewhere completely different.

2.30 in the afternoon and two flights later, I arrived in George, South Africa. Greeted by a hug from a friendly-looking woman holding an Africa Media sign. This was Rouxne and she would be my tutor for the time I was there.

When I got to the guest house where we would be staying, I felt a lot more at ease and proud of what I had already accomplished. This time last year, I was too scared to drive down to Plymouth from Bristol by myself (being a new driver). Now, I had just flown halfway across the world, completely independently.

Also on the internship programme were two other students. Neither of whom was studying journalism at uni but had relevant experience and interests. One called Steven, 36, from Canada and one named Michelle, 23, originally from Singapore but majoring in arts history in LA. It was incredible how people from three completely different walks of life could come together through the same dedication to travel and the environment.

What we did

rebecca divingThere was a lot of freedom in what stories we could write, as long as it was related to the sort of things Africa Media cover. I chose wildlife and conservation- because it seemed the most fun! This meant I got to volunteer at an African Penguin rehabilitation centre and release the healthy penguins back into the ocean, as well as go shark cage diving for free, walk with African Elephants, go on safari and loads more.

These are all things I have always wanted to do, but given my budget and the way the world is going, I thought I would never be able to. As well as accomplishing all of these once in a lifetime experiences and making lifelong friends, I learned a lot about what it is to be a journalist and got a lot of skills and contacts to enhance my CV. By throwing myself into what Africa Media had to offer, I successfully published five blog posts, as well as two articles in a local magazine – which is something I’ve always hoped to achieve. Plus, helps massively to get onto the career ladder and get high grades in the module.

What I gained

rebecca and coworker looking out to seaAs well as all the academic and professional benefits I’ve got under the belt from the internship, I’ve gained a lot of interpersonal skills to help me progress in day to day life. I have become more confident, from having to organise it on my own and live with completely different types of people; this allowed me to really come out of my shell and learn new things about myself.

I have become more independent. Being away from all of my friends and family for a long period of time and living in quite a secluded area, I did more on my own than I usually would. Such as traveling and studying. At first, this didn’t appeal to me at all. But, once in it, I came to realise it wasn’t that bad. I learned a lot more about my strengths and weaknesses, which allowed me to work on them and improve as a person.

rebecca writingThis is all thanks to Marjon and the opportunities they provide for students. If I didn’t have to do the practical module, I wouldn’t have the hands-on experience I do now. Meaning, I wouldn’t have developed as much as a person, in a professional and personal mindset.

Thank you to Rebecca Toogood, BA (Hons) Journalism student, for writing this.

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