Over the summer, I was looking for something productive and academically engaging to do in the run up to my dissertation year. With all of my assignments handed in and my marks handed back, I needed something to do over the summer that would help me get out of burnout and focus on something other than my own ego and victim complex. That’s when I found North East Bylines on my university’s careers portal. And my experience there has taught me several things.
North East Bylines: Creative control does not need complete control
For background, I was involved this year in a university digital publication society on a committee level, which was amazing, and I loved leading such a fantastic project. However, because I had to manage the admin side of it alongside my coursework, I never really got the chance to write about what I loved. Plus, I have a four-track mind: the lead single is education with the other tracks being disability rights, LGBTQ rights, and raising awareness of mental health. However, there is only so much mileage I can get out of writing about university activism, and there isn’t much of an interest in articles about Education Committees in the context of primary/secondary schools from the general student population.
I feel like I have more creative control now as I don’t have to appeal to the university student crowd. Most university students aren’t necessarily going to be interested in the link between Brexit, patriotism and the national curriculum. So being able to have access to a wider platform where I’m finally able to go fully into these cross-currents.
North East Bylines: Finding (and being proud of) my voice
I also want to turn my attention to the Bylines Podcast for a second. I was never the most articulate or verbally confident person in high school. So being able to hear my first co-hosted podcast and hearing just how confident I sounded is definitely a highlight of my personal evolution. I never thought that I would get the chance to be on a podcast, let alone interview a MP. If you told fourteen-year-old me that this was going to be my future, I probably would have told you to go away, in a less polite way. Since then, I’ve started hating the sound of my own voice a little less.
I am that person with a voice
Since I’ve started writing quite openly about what I’m passionate about, I now realise the impact that my credentials and activism could have if I allow my voice to be public. And public it will continue to be – from my representative work within university to my work for Schools Matter UK. I’m writing about the things that I most enjoy researching and doing, and that’s done wonders for my confidence and self-esteem.
So far, this has been the most fulfilling summer I’ve had in a while. Whereas previous summers revolved around anxiety about the year ahead, or flare-ups in health conditions, this summer has been about continuously studying, thinking and working towards a cause that is beyond me. Being able to write about topics outside of the university ecosystem has been amazing. And this is why I’m thankful that I’ve found North East Bylines.