Can you please introduce yourself? And Can you explain why you chose the MA in journalism at UL?
My name is Tara McCormack and I am from County Offaly, I decided last year that I wanted to go back and pursue journalism. I have been in radio for the last eight years, I actually got into radio during my undergraduate degree at UL which was the BA in English and media, as it was known as at the time. I always had it in my head that I was going to go back and study journalism and I decided to take both the news and sports pathway because I saw how beneficial it was having both areas covered having worked in radio.
With a career in Journalism, it is great to have as many tools in your toolbox as you can, especially in TV and radio. You need to be a “Jack of all trades” when you're in these kind of positions. So I absolutely jumped at the opportunity to do the sports journalism pathway as well. I had no experience in it. It absolutely terrified me, but I have learned so much,
Sports PR and communications has been my favourite module so far which really surprised me.
Why did you choose to come back to UL then again?
I absolutely adore Limerick and I adore UL but I was a very different person coming back to UL this time. I graduated in 2017 so I had a bit of time between then and now. And you can only imagine the growth and development that happens within those years. So, I was going back a very different person, but the place is just so welcoming and I absolutely adore the campus. I feel like UL allows you to be who you want to be. You always find your group. My classmates in my course are great and we're all really close. I may be biased but I absolutely adore UL. I knew that if I was doing a masters anywhere it was always going to be UL.
What specific aspects of the course impress you the most and what's the best thing about the course?
I feel the biggest element and the best part of it is the networking aspect of the course, we get to meet working professional journalists through the seminars and lectures that take place as part of the programme which has been invaluable to us as a class and allows you to connect with those working in the industry.
The lecturers are so helpful and giving of their time.
I'm also really enjoying the sports element of the programme because within that we got to speak with athletes and professional sports people. What they say is so real, and you get a real world perspective on what they experience on a daily basis which is so beneficial to us as students.
What experiences and opportunities has the programme presented you with in terms of your own career development?
In relation to my own career development, it has actually given me more confidence in what I have been doing throughout the year and during the course. I actually won the Gay Byrne Best Newcomer IMRO award. That has given me great confidence and has pushed me to pursue opportunities in my career.
The workshops and seminars that we have had have been absolutely fantastic. We have had numerous guest speakers predominantly working journalist who have come to share their insights with us. Most recently, Dana Sullivan, Jackie Hurley and Jess Casey have all shared their time and perspectives with the class. Jess Casey is a former student of UL and she gave a really insightful talk on her own life experience and how she hasdeveloped her career. The networking element to the course is great as you are regularly interacting with top journalists who you can also reach out to after the guest lectures.
How did you find the course and how it's delivered and how it's assessed?
They try to accommodate everybody, because realistically, at a masters level, there's going to be people working. There is going to be people doing job interviews. All that kind of stuff, so everything is accommodated. The course is offered in a blended format, everything is recorded and it's uploaded in time that you don't miss anything. And all of the lecturers are very good at making sure that everybody has the materials. If it is the case that you can't make a lecture you can always watch it back later which is absolutely fantastic. For assessment, with the programme, a lot of the assignments are continuous assessment. We have one or two exams and the lecturers give you enough time to study for exams so they arenot trying to catch you out at all
Do you have any advice or tips for prospective students of the course?
I know it is very nerve wracking to get out of your comfort zone, especially when you’re interviewing someone or you're trying to write up a piece but in my opinion it is worth it as you learn so much. In relation to the application process, I would advise reaching out to the Course Director of the programme if you have any questions as you are not just talking to software or computer. There are people at the other end of the phone and the other of email. Don't be shy and reach out because at the end of the day, if you're going to get into journalism, you need to let go of that.
One last thing as well, in relation to actually being a student again. I would recommend taking advantage of applying for every graduate internship, every program and just keep on applying! I applied for internships in ABC News and if I wasn't a student or graduate, I wouldn't have the opportunity to do those things so that would be one thing I would consider also.
Would you recommend the programme to others? So would you recommend the MA to others?
I would highly recommend that if you even had the slightest inkling to want to try it, or test the waters, there's so much more than just journalism in the course, such as the networking element I mentioned earlier. And you're actually upskilling yourself with media training. I do think all that training is really beneficial and it's quick. It flies bye. This first semester I blinked and it was over. I just think if anybody is even playing around with the idea that they should seriously consider the MA programme, it has been a really positive experience for me.