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Dom McAndrew, BA (Hons) Journalism, 2010 and MA Journalism, 2011

June 30th, 2015 · No Comments · USA

What have I been doing since graduation you ask. Well it’s a detailed story, so I at least hope you’ve got a drink and/or a biscuit to get you through the more tedious parts of my tale.

I actuDom McAndrew_US_125ally have two degrees from the University of Lincoln. My first graduation (BA (Hons) Journalism and Politics) was September 2010, but only a few weeks later I was set to start my Masters degree in Journalism.

Another year goes by and by January 2012 I have a certificate which says I now have a Masters degree.

So now onto the job scene. I apply for jobs using the daily alerts from Media UK as my guide and supplementing that with searches on Twitter and various other job boards. I can’t say that I was successful with that initial search. My experience with Siren FM helped, but at the time I was competing with other Broadcast Journalists who had years more experience than I had. There seemed to be no way in.

I actually reached out to my lecturers to see if they could offer some advice. I know how important first impressions are, so I wanted to be sure my CV was the best it could be – it so happened that the request itself was my way into the industry. It was Barnie Choudhury who got me in contact with someone at BBC Leeds, which led me into BBC Radio York.

When I started at BBC Radio York, I would often tell my girlfriend (now wife) how I would happily work for free given how much I was enjoying it. I truly did love it, but unfortunately the amount of work I got there wasn’t enough to pay the bills.

In all the movies when someone moves to the big city (in my case York) – they manage to land the perfect job and everything works out. In real life, there are electricity bills, gas bills, council tax, and rent all to cover. If I can offer anyone reading this some advice – if you want something you have to really focus on it and do whatever you can to make it happen.

So my work at BBC Radio York was supplemented with temp work from the local branch of Brook Street Bureau. My first gig: a traffic attendant at a local supermarket. It wasn’t easy – guiding drivers around a car park at Christmas time, in the cold and rain, standing and shivering and trying my best to stay dry. Not my favourite job!

My next posting after that was in an office as an insurance agent, advising clients of their coverage and taking claims over the phone. If was certainly a welcome change to have a chair, walls, and a roof over my head.

And I was doing all of this while trying to get my career off the ground. Things were fine working both jobs, despite sometimes starting at 5am at BBC Radio York, then getting to my office job at 9am to finish at 5pm, then going back to BBC Radio York for a 6pm until 9pm shift. There were some long days!

But those days weren’t forever, and after managing to fit in a few interviews where I could I was offered a job as a Broadcast Journalist at a commercial radio station in Inverness. I worked there until my contract was up – and then I got married. I realise I haven’t mentioned this until now, but my wife is from California and her visa to stay in the UK was quickly running out.

After investigating how we could both at least stay in the same county, it seemed that a move to California was on the cards. In the meantime we were still in Inverness, and I’d started working for the Crofting Commission – a non departmental public body within the Scottish Government.  There I worked in communications and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was the first time I’d used my journalism degree for anything outside radio and it quickly became clear to me that a degree in journalism didn’t mean I had to work exclusively in journalism.

Thankfully, my green card application to be a permanent resident in the USA was approved before my wife’s UK visa expired. So we packed up all our belongings and flew over to California to start a new life there.

In another stroke of luck, my wife’s grandmother knew the Program Director of the local news talk radio station. After she mentioned to him that I was looking for a job, he agreed to meet me. What was initially a meeting turned into an interview, which in itself turned into a job.

I’ve since been working for that news talk radio station for more than a year and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. There have been things I’ve had to re-learn as radio in California is different to what I was used to, but I think I’ve gotten the hang of it! Having a British accent on the air is certainly a bonus, and save the one local TV reporter who initially suspected I was faking my accent to get further ahead in my career, it’s all been positive.

Dom McAndrew & Smokey

So there you have it. From graduation to the present day – my history in a nutshell. Getting to do what you want to do can be difficult and you have to remain focused on that eventual goal. I’m lucky in that my wife was able to stand by me and help support me through it all because it was difficult to get to where I am now. I’m not saying that to dissuade anyone from trying, but know that however difficult the journey is – there’s always a way to get to where you want to be.

 

By Dom McAndrew

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