David Jones is a premier league presenter at Sky Sports News. He completed his NCTJ training at Sheffield College.
I didn't start out planning to be a presenter on Sky Sports. However, I knew from quite a young age that I wanted to be a journalist, and that was the dream I was pursuing after my first thrilling taste of a newspaper office while on work experience as an impressionable 14-year-old.
That was the Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, and I followed it up with a fortnight on The Journal in Newcastle, Tyne Tees Television and then the Gloucestershire Echo in Cheltenham where I was studying for a history degree.
I had applied and failed to win places on training schemes run by the Newcastle Evening Chronicle and even by the BBC but by that stage I had already secured my spot on the 18 week intensive NCTJ postgrad course at Sheffield, run in those days at the crumbling Stradbroke College.
I remember the course leader taking me into his office for a chat because he couldn't understand why I hadn't already landed a job on a paper. The truth was I hadn't applied for any because I didn't think I was ready: four months later I couldn't wait to get started.
I'd already got up to speed on my shorthand at home using tapes speaking v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y but that gave me a massive head start when we got into the classroom and meant I could really focus on the other aspects of the course. I loved the public affairs and the need for media law became apparent on my very first day on the job.
That was with the Derbyshire Times in Chesterfield: the first job advert that was pinned to the college noticeboard. I didn't care where it was, by that stage I was just desperate to start working, learning and earning... not that £10k per year went very far, even in 1996.
I thought I knew everything but it didn't take me long to realise in the real world of work and newspapers I knew nothing.
But within weeks I was defending my stories on the phone to the local MP, one Tony Benn and fighting off accusations of defamation from the local vicar! How thankful I was of my neat-ish, legible shorthand note that time and time again came to my rescue.
I still use it to this day and incidentally all Sky Sports News staff are now required to learn shorthand during their probation period... Teeline lives on!
Sport, or indeed television, hadn't been on my work agenda but when I stumbled upon a Guardian advert inviting applicants for the launch of a new sports news channel at Sky TV I couldn't resist.
Within months I was waving goodbye to my brilliant colleagues on the weekly paper and starting work in London on the first rolling 24 hour sports news channel in Britain.
My background and training gave me a huge advantage over colleagues recruited from production houses, television magazine shows and sport. I could smell a story, I knew the questions to ask, I knew what we could get away with and I could write copy as 'crisp as crackling bacon' as my NCTJ journalism tutor in Sheffield used to put it!
Sixteen years later I'm still at Sky having progressed from researcher and copy writer, to reporter, to news channel presenter, to live sport presenter and to Premier League presenter. I've hosted England internationals, Champions league matches, FA Cup games, Wembley finals, and covered World Cup finals and the Olympics.
When I was standing face to face with an irate Sir Alex Ferguson I would draw on my confrontations with the intellectual giant Tony Benn; when sparring with Gordon Strachan I would recall the death knocks in Derbyshire which prepare you for anything.
I'm still leaning on the same principles; the paramount importance of accuracy, checking scripts, checking facts, double checking statistics.
And I still see the NCTJ qualification as a badge of honour in myself and in others. I've got the best job in the world but would it have been possible without the NCTJ?
Not a chance.