Q&A with JDF recipient Wendy Oloya

Wendy Oloya is currently category content manager at WorldStores, having previously worked as a reporter at Famous Features. She completed her journalism training at News Associates with the help of the Journalism Diversity Fund.

wendy_oloya1[1]Wendy Oloya, is currently category content manager at WorldStores, having previously worked as a reporter at Famous Features. She completed her journalism training at News Associates with the help of the Journalism Diversity Fund.

Find out more about Wendy’s passion for journalism, her training and life as a journalist.Why did you want to become a journalist?

Ever since I was young, reading and writing were strong passions of mine. I’ve always been fascinated by the power of words and the ways in which they come together to make a story. In my opinion, journalism is the act of asking an individual to tell their story. You listen, take it in and then present it to a wider audience. I became features editor of the University of Southampton newspaper, Wessex Scene, in my third year and quickly realised that this was something I wanted to pursue, long after my care free days were over. Reporting on a range of topics including the plight of a Hazara student, the Southampton sex industry and sport club initiations – all at different times of course – made me realise just how powerful the act of listening and telling is.

What were you doing before your journalism training?

When I graduated with a BA (Hons) in English, I left without a plan. I knew I wanted to get into journalism; I just didn’t know what route to take. So I found a part-time job and spent the evenings applying to as many internships and paid vacancies as possible.

Did you have journalism related work experience before you applied to the Journalism Diversity Fund?

Yes. I was the features editor at my university newspaper, a disk jockey for the university radio station Surge FM and I completed an internship with Now Magazine. In addition to this I became an ardent blogger, writing for a range of websites, including my own personal site.

What help did you receive from the fund?

I was awarded a bursary which covered the cost of my course fees. The Journalism Diversity Fund gave me the opportunity to embark on my NCTJ training which helped me to secure my first paid job in journalism.

How did you find your course?

I completed the fast-track NCTJ newspaper journalism course at News Associates and it was exciting, enjoyable, but also physically and emotionally exhausting. The course was much more intense than I could have imagined but I am so glad I did it.

How are you finding life as a journalist?

Being a working journalist is something I have spent the past five years working towards. The hours are long and the stress intense, but the excitement of finding a great lead and turning it into a fantastic story is a feeling that I can’t seem to find the right words to describe. I honestly feel so privileged. I’ve worked hard to get where I am and I know there are so many people like me also working hard and haven’t been given the opportunity to be paid for their journalistic talents. That’s why I take my job seriously and with every story, I report it with a sense of dignity and pride.

What diversity do you bring to the newsroom?

Being a black British female of African heritage raised in culturally and ethnically diverse south London, and being one of only three black students on my course at a predominately white middle class university, I know firsthand what the diverse and homogeneous landscape of Britain is like. At any given opportunity I always try to raise issues that affect the community I am a part of and the heritage I come from. I also try to actively promote not only the causes of ethnic minorities in the UK but also the issues that affect women.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in journalism?

Never give up. I’m quickly learning that you have to have an incredibly thick skin to be able to cope with the constant knock backs and high level of competition you face, while trying to get your work noticed. However, if this is something you really want to do, then pursue it wholeheartedly and until you’ve attempted every path possible to get into your chosen field, don’t stop. It may not seem like it at the time, but all the hard work you put in will certainly pay off.

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