Building a career in journalism: My personal advice and experience
April 27, 2018

Building a career in journalism: My personal advice and experience

The first signs came when I was in the second year of my Bachelor in International Relations. After reading one of my essays, my advisor told me I should try out a career in journalism someday. “You know, you describe things in a very interesting way, you should try it,” he said at the time. Back then, I didn’t pay significant attention to his words and thought I would rather concentrate on my studies.

Things changed at the beginning of my PhD studies, in autumn 2016, when one of my friends recommended the editor of the Ukrainian online newspaper ‘EuroPravda’ to contact me regarding Russia’s withdrawal from the Plutonium Agreement with the USA. The article I wrote on this topic was my first venture into political journalism. Later, I started to write intensively on German internal and foreign policy. This topic is very closely linked to my dissertation, so press articles are a good supplement to my scientific research. Currently, I am not only active on ‘EuroPravda’. My contributions can be found on various Ukrainian news portals and radio broadcasters. My cooperation with Hromadske Radio, National Radio Company of Ukraine and Radio Vesti has been especially productive, and the media environment in Ukraine is broad, so it is never too hard to find some new opportunities.

I am happy with the work I have done in the field and the recognition I have received in some cases. It was a great pleasure for me to participate in the Summer Academy of EuroClubs in Ukraine, where I was glad to share my opinion and knowledge on the development of the EU, together with my fellow Young European Ambassador from Chernivtsi, Omelian Tarnavskyi. Another great memory was my essay on the development of relations between Ukraine and Germany, which won third prize at a competition organised by the German Embassy in Ukraine.

  • Viktor Savinok, Young European Ambassador from Ukraine

However, the whole thing has not been as easy. There has been a huge amount of work behind it. This is integral to success in any sector. I would however like to share some of my tips, which could be useful for a career in political journalism.

Become an expert

First, find your main area – or areas – of interest. Some might say it is necessary to maintain multifaceted interests within our global, drastically and quickly changing world, in which there’s a vast amount of information. However, the potential of the human brain is biologically limited and therefore unable to absorb all the information surrounding it, so it’s important to set priorities. If you prioritise some topics you are interested in and willing to talk about in your articles or interviews, you could save time and energy in the future. In doing so, you will be able to cover issues you generally know, rather than having to make yourself acquainted with a new topic each time you have to compose a new article. However, this does not mean that you have to give up on broadening your interests; it is just about giving some direction to the process.

Be honest

Second, do not hesitate to speak your mind. Many of those who start writing their own articles have such concerns. What happens if someone does not like it? What happens if someone has a different position on the topic? What happens if I am criticised? All these questions are quite natural, as everyone tries to do their best. Nevertheless, there is nothing to worry about when you publish an article or give an interview, because there will always be those who will like it, and those who will find reasons to criticise it.

Continuously improve yourself

Third, pay attention to constructive criticism. Indeed, criticism is useful, because it enables you to identify mistakes or explore additional points that might be of interest in relation to your topic. However, not every critical point can be useful for the development of your skills. Some comments might not propose any constructive solutions. Some of them may rather be an attempt to undervalue your work or even your personality as an author, and may not be of any interest in terms of your development. It is however worth finding critics who propose different points of view, suggest different methods, draw attention to other aspects of the topic or offer hints on how to improve your article. Therefore, do not hesitate to contact those who react to your contributions in such a way.

Be bold

Last but not least, do not stop dreaming. You need to have dreams in order to set out your objectives. Through my engagement within the media, I try not only to gain new competences, to develop myself as a political analyst and to work on new formats of contributions, but also to explain difficult topics relating to international politics to a broader audience and to explain the diversity of the world as a whole.

I sincerely hope this helps you as you take some of your own steps towards a life in the media.

Viktor Savinok – Ukraine

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My name is Viktor Savinok, and I am a Young European Ambassador from Ukraine. I am a PhD student in Political Science at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, from where I also obtained a degree in International Relations. During my studies, I was a project manager (2015) and then chairperson of the students’ association on foreign policy and diplomacy (2016-17). My other professional experiences have covered the topics of IDPs (GIZ), Central European Politics (MFA of Ukraine, Institute for European Politics) and the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (Jacques Delors Institut Berlin). I am highly engaged in policy research and intercultural communication. As chair of the students’ association, I communicated with Ukrainian and foreign diplomats and took part in student exchanges. I am active as a freelance columnist, writing on German politics and the environment. I am constantly developing my knowledge of different languages, countries and their cultures, and strongly believe that a globalised world brings opportunity for everyone.

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