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BA Degree (Print Journalism): Life after Graduation

by Annique Bolliger

I recently graduated from the University of Cape Town (UCT) with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) Degree in Print Journalism, and what quickly became clear to me is that many people do not actually know what a BA Degree in Print Journalism is or what one can do with it. The most commonly asked question I was asked at my graduation was, “What subjects did you major in and what are you going to do now?”

Perhaps you are looking at studying a BA in Print Journalism, or are studying a BA and are asking yourself that exact question, and that is okay! This article aims to enlighten you on the endless possibilities BA students, and more so specifically BA students with Print Journalism have. All you need is just a little guidance and you will be right on your way to completing your own BA Degree and entering into the business world right where you belong.

High School Subjects

Choosing my final high school subjects at the end of Grade 9 was not an easy task for me. I wasn’t quiet sure what I wanted to do after school and therefore didn’t know what subjects to take. I had spoken to various career guidance teachers and had completed multiple aptitude tests, but even after that I still felt lost as to what I wanted to do. So, in the end in order to allow myself as many career and studying options as possible after school, I chose an array of subjects across the board. My subject choices covered all my bases – for all those “just-in-case” career options. In the end I chose: English, Afrikaans and Life Orientation, Mathematics, Physical Science, Visual Art, and History.

I truly believe that from Grade 10 students are able to properly gage where their strengths and weaknesses lay, as the “real work” or “real understandings” come in Grade 10 and up. I absolutely loved English, History and Visual Art, and I excelled in them throughout my last three-years of High School. Mathematics and Physical Science on the other hand, were two subjects that just seemed to just always get the better of me. Despite many hours of extra work and tutors for days, I just couldn’t grasp the concepts and understandings behind those two subjects. When realising that these subjects were not my strong points, I began exploring what I might be able to do in line with the subjects that I really enjoyed and excelled in, such as English and Visual Art.

Job Shadow. Job Shadow. Job Shadow.

I cannot stress to you how helpful it is to job shadow. After narrowing down my strengths and passions to the subjects I most enjoyed and excelled in, I began narrowing down the career opportunities within those fields. It is here that job shadowing played a large role in helping me decide what I wanted to study after school. Just because I loved Art didn’t mean I could be a Graphic Designer. And just because I was good at English, did that mean I was to be an English Teacher? These questions are easily answered through job shadowing, as you are able to get an actual feel of what the job entails and if you are able to see yourself in that specific position.

After job shadowing numerous people in numerous careers, I realised where my true passion lay and I finally knew what I wanted to study: Journalism. I may have gone a tad overboard with job shadowing and don’t feel like you need to as well. My suggestion is that if you feel strongly about a specific career choice, try and shadow a person it that field. You might be quite surprised.

Once I knew what I wanted to study, things became a little easier. I realised that is wasn’t very important to have taken Mathematics or Physical Science as neither is required to study a BA Degree in Print Journalism. It is also important to note that when writing my NBT’s (National Benchmark Test’s), I was only required to write the English Test and did not need to write the Mathematic’s Test, owing to my choice of Media and Writing, English and Print Journalism as my BA Degree majors. For advice on job shadowing see what Wits expert Raj Naran has to say in a recent interview.

University Subjects

Although my end goal was to graduate in Print Journalism, I was required to study a general BA Degree for the first one and a half-years of my studies. I needed to choose two majors that I was to carry for that one and a half years. Owing to the fact that I was planning on specialising my degree later on in Print Journalism, I was required to Film and Media Studies as my first major and was then able to choose my second major, for which I chose English Literature.

At the end of my first semester in second-year, I then had to re-apply for my Print Production course as well as hand in a portfolio of media related work that I had completed. This portfolio can consist of any work you may have done that is media related, such as writing for the Varsity newspaper or getting involved with UCTTV. Once I was accepted into Print Journalism, my majors changed once again. I was now required to major in Print Journalism and Media Studies. However, owing to the fact that I loved English so much, I decided to not drop it but instead triple major in all three subjects – Print Journalism, Media Studies and English. These were the three subjects I did throughout my second-year second semester and full third-year.

Career Options

I always knew that I wanted to go into some kind of Journalism once I had finished studying, so for me choosing a career path was not difficult. However, there are many other career options students with a BA in Print Journalism behind their name can go into and here a few:

  • Copywriter/editor
  • Social Media Manager
  • Online/Print Journalist/Reporter: Sport, Politics etc.
  • Public Relations
  • Professional Blogger
  • Editor
  • Content Producer
  • Freelance Writer/Author
  • Technical Writer
  • News Analyst
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Digital Media Specialist
  • Public Information Officer

FundiConnect 2cents

It is important to do what you love, and that I cannot stress that enough. If your passion lies in a BA Degree – go for it, as it is important to do what makes you happy. Also, I encourage students to job shadow as job shadowing just provides that little bit extra you may need to help you decide if you are cut out for a certain career or not.

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