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Student spotlight | Megan Ireland, BSc (Hons) Digital Journalism

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Megan Ireland

Megan Ireland grew up in the heart of Lancashire in the sleepy village and close community of Chatburn. Appreciating her countryside surroundings, she began to take photographs of the rolling hills, landscapes, sunsets and animals, including her beloved dogs.

She graduated from Leeds Beckett University in 2019, and has taken on several professional commissions, including weddings and events as well as volunteering to cover the Grassington Festival where she photographed 80s icons The Stranglers, Mark Almond and Toyah Wilcox.

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you’ve been doing since you graduated

Since graduating in 2019 I have been working at Leeds Beckett University in the Marketing and Communications team. I loved being at university and my ‘Leeds Life’ really made me want to stay not only in Leeds but at the university too. I have learned so much through the amazing team that I work with and it has set me up with valuable skills which I will carry through my career.

I still practise photography as a hobby but also do it as a job on the side. I have been building my photography business since college and hope to keep growing and becoming more popular in the near future. Covid-19 has had an impact on my work as a photographer due to weddings and events being postponed, but I have been taking photographs of the countryside and my dogs in the meantime. I am really looking forward to where my photography takes me in the future. I have also photographed a number of events for the university for their social media channels, e-newsletters and a number of events.

What have been the highlights and challenges of your career so far? 

I feel like there have been so many highlights for me so early on into my career, the team at Leeds Beckett made me feel so welcome and at ease for my first job. I have learnt so much already from working on campaigns like Mental Health Awareness Week, as well as creating, collating and editing content for the university webpage, social media and other channels. I have also had the opportunity to photograph whilst working at LBU which has then been used on the social media, various pieces of comms and on the wider university website, including blogs.

Covid-19 has been the biggest challenge, starting my first job on the career ladder, working from home and learning has been hard, but has also pushed me to work harder and get the job done whilst only having the support online.

Outside of my day job, photography has always been my passion and taking photos for people’s ‘big day’ is always a highlight and very rewarding. Working on events is always enjoyable and there’s always something new and a different experience every time.

Landscape photograph

How has your experience studying at Leeds Beckett influenced you and your career? 

Studying at Leeds Beckett has really given me the professional skills from writing blogs and news stories to learning more technical things about my camera. This has really helped me with my job at LBU and with my photography. I gained so much confidence at university which has helped me work at events and weddings.

Digital journalism will allow you to gain valuable skills like writing for different styles, it helps you gain creativity and work to deadlines. One of the projects for university was to create a magazine from scratch. We used Adobe InDesign to design the layout of the magazine, we needed to photograph our own content, which meant setting up different photoshoots with clients that we needed to reach out to and organise ourselves, as well as interview clients and edit the content for the magazine. This assignment really helped me by making me take charge of my own work and made me stick to strict deadlines as everything needed to come together by a certain date. It also took me out of my comfort zone by interviewing different people like workers and managers, this was something that I initially found difficult, but doing this in university gave me the confidence to now do this within my job.

What advice would you give someone thinking about studying this course? 

My advice would be to do the work and don’t leave it last minute, you’re there to learn and get as much out of it as you can. Remember, the tutors are there to help and support you, so use them.

University isn’t just about getting your degree, it’s the whole experience. Show up to classes, make friends and work hard but also enjoy it and it will be the best and most memorable time of your life!

If there’s something you’re not comfortable with, like I was with speaking to different people, university is the best place to make mistakes and improve before getting out into the ‘real world’ of work.

What’s next for you?

I hope that I keep building my photography up to the point that I can work for myself, but I also love working in marketing and especially in education as I feel like I can connect with the students as I have experienced it myself.

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