Ashley Wilkinson, Journalism, 2014

What are you doing now; tell us about your role and your journey since graduation?

For the first nine months after graduation, I worked as a part-time volunteer for BBC Radio Derby as a football reporter, covering Non-League Conference side Alfreton Town Football Club.

I carried out several live commentaries (something I’d dreamed of doing since I was a kid commentating on my own matches!) for the station on Sky Bet League Two side Burton Albion Football Club.

During this time I supported my passion - sports journalism - with paid employment at Sainsbury’s and also found time to volunteer as a sports writer at the Derby Telegraph.

Due the considerable experience I’d gained through my volunteer roles, I was recommended to the sports reporting team at the Burton Mail, who were looking for a full-time sports journalist. I was fortunate to get the job and joined the team in September 2014.

What were the main reasons you took that course?

I’d always wanted a career in sports journalism from a young age. I have long been passionate about writing, particularly about sport, and so Journalism was the only course I really looked at.

Why did you choose to study the course at the University of Derby?

I was living with my parents at the time so hearing that Derby offered a new Journalism course really appealed to me, particularly given the good reputation of the media faculty.

What impact has studying this course at Derby had on your career?

A fantastic one! Had I not attended the University of Derby, I might not have had the opportunity to make an impression. At an employability day set up by the University, the then-editor of the Derby Telegraph, Steve Hall, was talking to a class of Journalism students.

In the Question and Answer session, I took the opportunity to ask him if I could work for on the Telegraph’s sport desk as an unpaid volunteer. My current role at the Burton Mail was a direct result of making the most of this and my other unpaid work experiences.

How did the lecturers inspire you?

The lecturers on the Journalism course encourage you to take a chance and that is exactly what I did. They have vast experience in the field of journalism and share their industry contacts and expertise with students.

They taught me a great deal about the changing world of journalism to include writing for an online audience to producing radio reports for a sports programme.

How do you feel the University has helped you in your career so far?

The opportunities to speak to leaders in the media industry at employability days and the chance to use the contacts of lecturers to gain work placements are great benefits for students.

What are your future plans?

I’m really happy with my role at the Burton Mail and would love to eventually work on a national newspaper as a sports journalist.

What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to study this course at the University of Derby?

You will get the best support from the lecturers at Derby and access to the best facilities. The Mac labs are vital to support your studies as is the equipment studio at Markeaton Street. Make sure you take advantage of and make the most of everything on offer at the Uni whilst you’re there.

Who are you still in touch with from University of Derby?

Plenty of my lecturers and classmates, who I absolutely loved! I honestly miss the course but really do appreciate the grounding it gave me in journalism.

Image - Ashley (right) interviews Steve Kemp, an elite physiotherapist with Perform Group (based at the National Football Centre, St George’s Park, Burton-on-Trent) and the Football Association.

“You will get the best support from the lecturers at Derby and access to the best facilities.” Ashley Wilkinson