Marc Watson

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How was your time at GCU? 

"You've joined exactly the wrong course at the worst possible time, so congratulations!" The words of my course leader on my first day as a University student have never left me. 

With the print newspaper industry already some way into its terminal decline, perhaps becoming a Journalism student wasn't the wisest career choice. But then I never wanted to be anything other than a writer. 

So when I received a place on the BA Journalism course at Caledonian, it was the highlight of my young life. I wasn't going to give up that easily. My small class – there were no more than 30 of us – became an incredibly tight-knit group, and those ominous words galvanised those of us who made it through the intense four-year course. 

My best memories are of the practical assignments that were designed to prepare us for life as a reporter: the simulated Death Knocks, the News Days and Weeks where we would function as a proper editorial team and produce a newspaper, the placements that saw us thrown into the bear pit of a real, live newsroom for a week. That last one ended up with me getting a weekly column in the Evening Times that I'm still writing now, almost a decade on. I look back on my early columns and struggle to recognise the callow youth that wrote them, but the teaching and the mentoring and the experiences that I enjoyed at Caledonian got me there, and has helped me sustain it for ten years. 

How has your career progressed since GCU? 

I'm not sure you could call me a professional journalist. Certainly, I've been lucky to have a paid gig writing about clubbing and nightlife for ten years – a situation you could hardly describe as "work". 

The inexorable decline of the newspaper industry meant that, like the majority of my classmates, I struggled to gain a full-time job at a newspaper. But the skills that make a good journalist can translate into other areas. After graduating, I spent a few years in the job application wilderness – firing out CVs and application forms and seldom receiving a reply, I often wondered if I was ever going to get my career up and running. But I've managed to carve out a career in communications. 

I was a Copywriter at a renewables firm, a PR exec at a College, a blog writer at a software company, and now I'm in a really varied, rewarding communications role at an offshore renewables research organisation. Every day I'm writing case studies, editing papers, talking to people, searching for interesting stories within my company and sharing them, looking for news angles to get my company's work out there in the news: all things that the BA Journalism helped me to be good at.

And keeping up my writing for the Evening Times has given me a creative outlet that helped when I wasn't in such a rewarding role. It pays the rent, too, while helping notch up hundreds of bylines for the CV. Not such a bad thing. 

What are your words of wisdom? 

Savour every moment, learn everything you possibly can about your chosen profession, stick in and stay strong when it feels like everything is getting on top of you. Classes that don't feel particularly relevant in the moment can have a surprising way of coming back to help you later in life. 

You're going to look back on your university years as the best of your life. I do, and so do the close friends that I made and still keep in touch with. Get out there and experience everything that life as a student has to offer and don't have any regrets. 

 

Marc Watson

BA Journalism 2009