Guest voices: My second career in journalism
How I've overcome the hurdles to entering the industry later in life
Once a month we will be hosting a Guest Voices slot in the newsletter. We’re on the look out for diverse and different takes, advice, tips and projects. We will be commissioning a few more soon so please don’t think we’re ignoring you if you have sent an idea - we will be in touch. If you would like to put your name forward, there is a Google form at the end of the newsletter.
This newsletter is from Minreet Kaur, an award-winning freelance journalist and presenter who has written for Metro, Independent, Stylist, Telegraph, Al Jazeera as well as doing reporting for the BBC among others. You can find out more about her on Twitter @minkaur5 or Instagram.
Entering the industry later in life as an Asian woman was tough but I am determined to keep going
As a woman of colour in my late 30’s I thought it might be too late to change career and to pursue the dream career of my choice, not my parents. That was to get into the media and be a reporter and be that brown face that we hardly saw 20 years ago.
By Christmas 2018, I decided that I had enough of my job in marketing, so I reached out to a few media organisations, managed to get a foot in the door at the age of 38 and I am now three years in as a freelancer and I don’t regret it at all.
If I hadn’t sent out those emails, I would still be stuck in my boring marketing role which I hated. It took that leap of faith for me to now have worked as a reporter, presenter, and a writer on some of the biggest mainstream shows including The One Show on the BBC.
I have worked across BBC, Sky News, as a producer at ITV and have bylines in The Independent, HuffPost, Metro, Stylist, iPaper, BBC, Sky, Observer, and Byline Times.
Without that leap of faith, I also wouldn’t have won report of the year for ‘Skipping Sikh MBE’ a story that was initially rejected but I kept on pushing. I don’t take no for an answer and politely and respectfully keep on knocking on doors looking for opportunities. Despite the fact my age and being brown does make it harder, I still know in my heart there is a place for me in this industry and I refuse to give up.
I found it very helpful signing up to newsletters, Facebook groups and journalism networking groups. Freelancing for Journalists has been such a great resource to me, as well as No1 Freelance Media Women and Women in Journalism. Without this support, I would not have known where to send stories, or how to build a network.
In my first two years, I was really stuck as I knew no one and didn’t have a mentor, but one thing I found really helpful was to attend any events, meet new people which then leads you to the next person to speak to. This is the best way to build contacts with editors.
Also Twitter and Instagram have some great resources and you can always look through publications and find editor contact details online, or look up a journalist who you admire and reach out. Many people in the industry have been in my shoes and understand.
The main advice I would give for others just starting out is to focus on the publications you read and want to write for, think of the ideas that work for that publication and build rapport with the editor. Always think of lots of ideas, and if they get rejected, then don’t bin the idea, just park it and try again somewhere else.
I do still struggle with getting regular work and am working hard to try to find contact names of editors, new places to pitch and to think of new angles for ideas. My niche and strength is that I am Asian and have access to lots of diverse stories but this also makes it harder as I don’t feel the industry is yet fully accepting diversity.
The other thing that has worked for me is perseverance, determination and being thick skinned.
I believe that the break will come, the right door will open and those opportunities will come when the time is right, but never let rejection stop you from pursuing your dreams, it’s the journey to success.
If you would like to contribute an idea for our Guest Voices slot, we’d love to hear about it. You can get in touch by filling out this Google Form.
What’s coming up
Series 6 of the Freelancing for Journalists is imminent everyone so watch this space! In the meantime you can find all our past episodes below including those fan faves Imposter syndrome, Working outside London and Should you ever work for free? at the link below or just search for us in Apple, Spotify and all the other directories.
Triumph of the week
Getting back on the pitching train and actually getting a feature idea picked up! Just got to find the time to write it now.
That feeling when…
A press officer asks if they can see a copy of your article in advance. Has anyone ever said yes to this?
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Bye for now!