What the winners have to say....
In this section you will be able to read and also hear from some of the previous winners of the awards.
Our second interview comes from 2010’s ‘Best student writer’ award, Kate Allen.
What course are/were you studying at the time of the award?
I’m currently studying BA English Literature at Reading University.
How did you first hear about the RotD student writer award?
I heard about the Record of the Day student categories through CMU Daily news service.
What made you decide to enter the competition?
I couldn’t see any reason not to; it seemed like a fantastic opportunity to get some of my writing read outside of the student newspaper. Plus I felt I was on a lucky streak at the time; I had just won an award at university, so thought I’d see if I could tempt fate twice. (I also won £10 on the lottery that week too.)
How did you go about entering?
I wrote the compulsory single review of Blue Blood by Foals first, and then fretted over the other two other articles I had to submit. Eventually I settled for live reviews of Morrissey and The Libertines.
How did you feel when you found out you’d won?
I was unsure about whether I had won until the night of the awards and when Matt Everitt actually read out my name. I knew I had been shortlisted but didn’t want to assume I had won. It was such an honour to win; all of the judges’ comments on my writing were incredibly complimentary and the whole event felt like a huge encouragement to keep up my music journalism ambitions, unlike the career advice English students are usually given – either become a teacher or retrain in law… I also felt rather relieved as I brought my Dad to the awards to make him proud of me; it would have been a fairly quiet journey home if I had left empty handed.
What reaction did you get from your course-mates/lecturers after the win?
I received lots of congratulations from everyone who works on and writes for the student newspaper, and they ran a news story on my award win the following week, which prompted class mates to ask about it. So far, I haven’t had a lecturer show any interest… but all my friends and course mates were suitably impressed.
How have things changed for you since winning the award?
Winning the award has given me more confidence in my writing and helped me to take my first steps into freelance writing. Plus I’ve made some good contacts which never would have happened without the help of Record of the Day.
Why does music journalism appeal to you?
I cannot think of anything better than listening to and writing about music. As far as I’m aware, there’s not a more appealing vocation than being a music journalist.
Has a career in music journalism always been your goal?
I’ve wanted to be a music journalist and nothing else since I started reading NME when I was 15. I was briefly tempted by the idea of being a plastic surgeon but my grades in science and inability to stomach an episode of Nip/Tuck soon put an end to that.
What would be your ideal job?
Right now, writing for NME would be the ideal. Eventually I would like to end up as a music magazine editor, but I’m also interested in going into sub-editing and the production side of things as well.
Which publications do you read regularly?
NME, Q, Uncut, Mojo, The Word and Rolling Stone.
What advice would you give to other students who are considering entering?
Do it. There’s nothing to lose, but a great deal to gain.
How has the award, and the experience, helped you? i.e. are you or have you since winning the award written for any music publications?
I now write for The Fly and have recently become a contributor to Idol magazine as well, and I’m hoping to write for a few more publications once the academic year is over. Also with the help of Record of the Day I have a summer full of work experience that I’m looking forward to.
What was the best thing – apart from winning – about the whole experience?
The people I have met and been in contact with since winning the award has been a great part of the whole experience. And the confidence winning has given me writing has left me feeling eager and excited to graduate, rather than worrying about what to do once I finish my degree.
What are your future plans and ambitions within music journalism?
I’m planning to make the most of all my summer work placements, to write for a few more music publications, I’m looking into editorial graduate schemes, and one day I want to write a book on Michael Jackson.
Can you sum-up your experience in three words?
No… Can you give me five? If so, ‘worth its weight in gold’.
Interview by Sarah Williams and edited by Daniel Baker.