The Backdoor to a Career in Journalism
Wayne O’Connor, reporter with The Sunday Independent is currently busy reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world, bringing the most up-to-date and vital information to readers of one of Ireland’s biggest selling newspaper.
While Wayne is now playing a role in communicating the most essential news and guidance to people across Ireland, there was a time when he thought a career in journalism wasn’t an even an option for him.
We recently spoke to Wayne about the journey into his current career:
“I was always interested in journalism” he tells us, “and in school I considered applying but having looked at the CAO points required, I didn’t think it was an option for me. I knew I wouldn’t get those points. Instead, I did an eBusiness course in Tralee Institute of Technology (IT), but I in retrospect I wasn’t ready to go into higher education. I had no experience of self-learning or project-based work. I went in without a clue.
“I suppose I couldn’t really connect with the course, it wasn’t what I really wanted to be doing so I found it hard to commit. The problem was, I had zero awareness of the other options.”
After a number of months, Wayne left the course in IT Tralee and started full-time in a sports shop that he had been working in part-time since school.
“I worked there for a few years, until a friend of mine told me about the course he was doing in Limerick College of Further Education and Training, and the it sounded really interesting. I looked into the courses available and found the Broadcast Journalism and Media Studies course and applied straight away.
“The course was a great steppingstone; it gave me a flavour of higher education and the world of journalism. It made the transition to higher education less daunting and lot more manageable. I was much better equipped to move on.”
Coming towards the end of that course, Wayne was told about the links that Limerick College of Further Education and Training have to help take a career in journalism further. An opportunity to interview for a place on the journalism degree course at University of Limerick (UL) came his way. He says: “it was like this back door into the course I had wanted to do from the very beginning, a door that just wasn’t there before. I’d had no idea that this was a possibility. So, I applied, interviewed for a spot in the course and got accepted.”
Wayne did the course with UL and found that the transition came naturally: “Having come from the FETAC course, I think I had a bit of an advantage in terms of knowing the language and the basic writing skills such as the inverted pyramid straight away. We had also been recording radio shows and were out on the street recording vox pops with the public, so I had a really good grounding when starting in UL. Back then, I really wanted to go into radio production – it was great craic in college.”
However, that wasn’t the road he would take. As part of the UL course, he applied for a third year work placement in 2014 with Independent News and Media (INM), and got a role reporting for the Irish Independent, Sunday Independent and The Herald in Dublin. After his placement he kept doing regular work for INM and, as his graduation loomed in 2016, Wayne was offered a full-time role with The Sunday Independent. He has been there ever since.
“It’s funny how I ended up in a job that, while doing my leaving cert, I never even considered a possibility. Had I known about the Limerick College of Further Education and Training course back then, I might be four years further on in my career! Either way, I love my work and without the FETAC course in journalism, I wouldn’t be doing it. My career really fell into place as a result of the course and I’d love everyone to know about the option from the start.”
You can find more information about the course at Limerick College of Further Education and Training here.
If you’re interested in other courses in limerick or anywhere across the country head to www.fetchcourses.ie and begin your journey.