“I don't regret that I chose the SAJ instead of a master's degree in journalism. And here's why ...”
She is one of the graduates who came to the SAJ knowing exactly what her future should look like. It was happening in the spring of 2013, when, after she took her license degree in journalism, she felt the need for practical training, very necessary for a beginner journalist. Between a master’s degree and courses at the School of Advanced Journalism she chose the latter. She submitted the application, and in September 2013 she became one of the students of the eighth SAJ graduating class.
Today Natalia Sergheev is reporter for Radio Free Europe in Chisinau, and the year 2016 brought her one of the first trophies in her career – the first prize in the Youth category of ADAMI Media Prize 2016 contest, for the film “Generation of Emigration”, produced together with producer and cameraman Alex Blumberg within the “Simply” project of Radio Free Europe. The movie brings to the light the phenomenon of migration in Moldova, telling the story of three young men forced to abandon their poorly paid jobs at home and to go abroad in search of better living.
We asked Natalia to share with us her success story, but the young journalist came with a different “proposal” – to make a retrospective of the choice she made and highlight seven reasons why she decided to study at the School of Advanced Journalism. We invite you to see what they are.
- SAJ trainers are potential employers. I even got to work next to my ex-teacher (and current teacher, in fact, because I keep learning from him), Vasile Botnaru. The fact that instead of submitting a CV you can write on Facebook to a manager, who knows that he taught you, is a valuable advantage in the labor market.
- Teachers are not even “teachers” in the classical sense of the word. I call them so because of “academic” habits. They are, in fact, trainers, and with some of them you will go out for a beer. Some might even become your mentors, if you are lucky. Of course this can happen at the university, too, but in a university lecture hall there is, however, a different dynamic of authority. Someone always is in the front and someone always listens...
- While you learn journalism, you already in a way work in an editorial office. The number of students in a graduating class is extremely small compared to a group at university – about 13-15 people. It is how many people work in some editorial offices. It teaches you to work in a team, which is not as easy as it sounds.
- You find yourself in a space where the majority of your colleagues really want to do journalism in the future. My words might seem strange, but when most of your university colleagues see themselves working in other areas, it is difficult to assess your own abilities, and especially the progress that you make. The stronger the people you work with, the stronger you get.
- You will do fieldwork. In rain, wind or frost. My belief is that, without trying fieldwork, it is quite hard to become a journalist, even though you might have a master’s, doctor’s or any other academic degree. And the sooner you do it, the better. But it is an opinion; I have nothing to compare it with.
- You will live in a pace similar to that of an editorial office. Deadlines over deadlines, day after day ... Yes, it is a good idea to invest a lot of time in a material (or in a master’s thesis), as it results in the best works. The truth is, however, that in reality you will rarely have such opportunities. In the little time I was given for a material, I often did mediocre articles. The problem is that there is always too little time, even when you work “officially”. I start thinking that your entire life you actually have to work just to improve, little by little, this level of “mediocre”. Unless you leave this field of work.
- If you are very lucky, you will find real friends. During studies, whatever they are, you have the chance to make strong friendships. But getting a master’s degree, I think, is a largely solitary job ... Instead, at the School of Advanced Journalism the curriculum is made in such a way that teamwork becomes daily routine. With someone (because you’re afraid to go alone) you go to Tiraspol to make a report, with someone else you do a newspaper layout until late at night, other colleagues defend your final academic work in front of teachers, who a few minutes ago tore it to pieces... At the SAJ you have a lot of experiences that show you what you and the people you study with are made of. In my graduating class, these links have not been lost after graduation or change of fields of work. And it is probably the main reason why I am glad that I chose the SAJ instead of a master’s degree.