Journalism: Student Testimonials

Sadiah Rahman

Specialist: Journalism
Minor: Media Studies

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?

I’ve always been a creative individual. I grew up devouring novels and dreaming of becoming a writer. I never really took it seriously though. It was my dream as a child. But when it came to choosing my program, I was lost. I have a great passion in care and wanted to pursue social work. I applied to social work programs at different universities and the journalism program at UTSC. Eventually my decision came down to UTSC by chance, I literally flipped a coin and had no idea what to expect. I did know that I love writing, expressing myself and sharing ideas and that UTSC would help me do this effectively. I was also really keen on current events, so this program fit me. I was attracted to UTSC’s program because not only is it a specialist program, it’s also a joint program and has internships available. I knew this program would prepare me for my professional life.

Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?

This program is tough. But that’s the nature of journalism and I love that the program doesn’t ignore it. The courses you take at UTSC are drastically different from the one’s you’ll take at Centennial. The university part turns you into a critical thinker, an analyst and a reader. You then take these skills and start your three-semester journey at college and your whole world is different. At Centennial you are technically a student, but you’re treated as journalist. This means you are always pitching, collaborating and chasing stories. The program also helps you find an internship within your preferred field of journalism, be it music, politics or fashion. Something admirable about this program is that it's being updated as you read this (since journalism is always changing.) As a student you learn industry tricks and tools from your professors and a wide variety of guest speakers. Being a part of this program has taught me how to be an effective leader, communicator, networker and collaborator.

What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?

1) Manage your time and work hard. This is a demanding field and news doesn’t sleep, nor should journalists. When you begin your college part of this program, the scheduling really takes a toll on your personal life. As a young journalist, your schedule is dependent on your sources (that you’ll need for your stories) so you’ll always be juggling your time and theirs. It’s easy to prioritize your time before your sources, but doing so only puts of your work. Working part-time is possible but will be strenuous especially when you’re at Centennial. If you want to be successful in this program, manage your time, believe in your ability to produce quality content, work with your peers, editors and professors to create a seamless journey.
2) Network. A great aspect of this program is that your professors will email you about conferences, talks and guest speakers. It’s your job to show up, make an impression and then build a professional relationship with these people (odds are they will be the ones providing you with job opportunities post-graduation.) Starting from your first year, put yourself out there. Get to know industry professionals, your professors and your peers. Build a strong foundation of people who see and value your talent as a young journalist.
3) Use UTSC and Centennial resources. UTSC has creative spaces such as The Underground and the Hub, whilst Centennial has production studios (radio, photo and TV). Use these as much as you can to work on personal projects and/or aid your school ones. What you produce in your years as an undergraduate student will shape your career.

What will you do with your degree after graduation?

In my third year of this program I bought my first DSLR and since then have been really invested in photo and video journalism. One thing I really love about this program is that every student has the opportunity to explore their own interests and I have this program to thank for my passion in photo and video journalism. I am currently talking to my professors about potential media outlets to work with. Upon graduation, I plan on implementing all my storytelling and people skills with a focus on photo and video at a suited outlet.
What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
Within the first academic year, the program focuses on reading and writing skills with an introductory approach on media and journalism. Strong reading and writing skills serve as an asset during this period, along with reading the news (this is journalism after all.) Students are also encouraged to start networking and find their field of interest. In second year, students delve more into critical theory and thinking. This is a pivotal period for young journalists, as it builds your journalistic curiosity. Third year is usually when students move over to Centennial (given they have all the prerequisites). At Centennial, you learn how to report and interview and create multi-platform products. Then you report, produce, create and collaborate. You work in photography, interactive journalism and radio. In your fourth year,  you spend one semester at Centennial where you take everything you’ve learnt up until that point and create a magazine, a documentary and website along with learning TV news and everyday reporting (and that’s just the first semester). In second semester you head on back to UTSC to finish up your credits. Despite this program being a specialist program, as of now there isn’t a sufficient amount of C and D level courses in journalism, so students are expected to resort to a minor to fulfill those requirements throughout their undergraduate.