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Journalism Placement helped my career Projects Abroad

How a Gap Year Journalism Placement with Projects Abroad Helped my Career

By Craig Ferriman

A gap year was never for me, I thought! Following a poor performance in my AS levels, it became apparent that I would be better off applying to university after my A level results were known in the hope that they would be better than my predicted grades. Thankfully I performed way better at A level and could then apply to the courses I wanted a year later. So I found myself on a gap year Id never imagined taking and decided, I'd better make good use of it.

Travel had always excited me and from a young age, I had harboured an ambition of becoming a journalist. I didnt particularly imagine that I could both travel and be a journalist overseas but consulted Google as it seems to know the answer to most things and strangely I was on to something. Projects Abroad could arrange high calibre placements in journalism in numerous developing countries including South Africa for which I had a major passion.

I signed up and jetted off with limited expectations and a real sense of stepping into uncharted territory. I need not have worried. On touching down in Cape Town I was met by local staff of the Projects Abroad team who escorted me to a host family that were to adopt me for the next couple of months on my stay in their country. My goodness, how they looked after me! I was fed more than I am back home and was included in all family activities.

The placement itself was outstanding. I was attached to a newspaper in Cape Town which saw me shadowing their reporters on the main news stories. My tasks involved researching and accompanying them on stories but very quickly I was starting to write up my own and by the time I returned home, I had fourteen published articles including a front page exclusive. For someone unqualified and inexperienced, this was both a major opportunity as well as being an incredible portfolio of work to have amassed.

Projects Abroad looked after me throughout my stay in Cape Town and managed the entire volunteer community in South Africa exceptionally well both from a safety but also social point of view. They regularly arranged cultural activities or social visits like wine tasting, shark cage diving or trips along the Garden Route.

To have this experience on my CV has been invaluable leading me to be the deputy editor of my university newspaper and onto my current role as an assistant news editor in television news.

Craig Ferriman is a freelance broadcast journalist at ITN & Al Jazeera English.