Ailsa Leslie - BA (Hons) Journalism

Ailsa Leslie graduated from LCC in 2009 with a BA in journalism and now works as Commissioning Editor on the 'Femail' section of the Daily Mail. Dani Agtani, a second-year student on the BA Journalism course talked to Ailsa about her time at LCC.

The course

For Ailsa, one of the perks of studying at LCC is that you get to spend three years in London which "is key to getting as much work experience as possible".

She praised the tutors at LCC for bringing real-world practical experience to their teaching: "I liked that the course was taught by actual journalists, not just academics, who had been there and can tell you, this is what it’s like".

Other than the teaching, Ailsa said the greatest thing the course and tutors do for you is push you to go and get that work experience: "Tutors are extremely supportive and they prepare you for the real world after you graduate".

Additionally, the college holds the renowned annual Hugh Cudlipp lecture, given by a senior figure in journalism and attended by leading industry figures, which Ailsa said, was unmissable: "You make good contacts at the party afterwards, so many journalists go". There are also weekly guest lectures held by journalists in the industry. Ailsa said: “I think it’s excellent to have people coming in from the industry, it is moving quickly these days so it’s important to have people tell you what it's like, and to get those contacts".

Arts London News

On the course students will work for Arts London News, the University newspaper run by third-year journalism students. Ailsa said that the newspaper helped her secure her job at the Daily Mail after graduating: “I remember when I went to my interview, they said Arts London News is a really great product and brilliant preparation for the kind of work they do there. That year of working as editors, subs and writers is invaluable".

Work experience

On top of doing the course, Ailsa says that work experience is vital in landing a job in journalism. In her first year, Ailsa worked at Southwark News and trade magazine called Square Mile. In her second year, Ailsa did work experience with the Daily Express on their website and managed to get a job with them during her third year.

Ailsa decided to apply for the Daily Mail graduate scheme for when she finished university: “I graduated the year of the recession and every newspaper closed down their graduate schemes other than the Daily Mail so I applied there. I somehow got the job out of 800 applicants and have been there 5 years now".

Advice for new students

Ailsa's main advice for aspiring journalists was that it is important to brand ourselves: “the moment you enter university think of yourself as a brand, what can I do to promote myself? There’s a lot of people coming into the industry and you have to think about what you can do that makes you different".

Ailsa finally emphasised the importance of getting work experience: “do as much work experience as possible. The clever thing to do is apply for smaller publications as they are the ones who are going to let you write. It’s all about getting your foot in the door and once you have, you will find it easy".