The struggles of starting a journalism career during the Covid-19 pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has had the greatest impact on young adults, either due to isolation from their peers, finding themselves unemployed, or being unable to find a job after graduating from university. It's not surprising then that such circumstances have had a negative impact on their mental health.

According to the most recent statistics, young people aged between 16-29 were most concerned about the effects of Covid-19 on their lives, particularly education, well-being, employment, and household finances.

Tereza Tomanova, 25, is one of these young adults who had a promising career ahead of her until the world turned upside down and everything came to a halt. She earned a distinction from Westminster University in multimedia journalism (broadcast) and was excited to begin her dream career in the media industry. Nobody doubted that she'd be able to find work within a few weeks. During her time at university, she interned at the BBC and London Live, amongst others.

She was aware that her job search would be difficult, but she wasn't prepared to face the challenges of looking for her first out-of-school job in the midst of Covid-19.

"I've spent nearly a year since graduation applying for jobs and have received no responses,” says Tereza. “If I did get a response, it would be a rejection."

Chandni Sembhi, 24, senior producer at PinkNews and founder of the Instagram page, Soyouwanttobeajournalist created the account last summer when the industry came to a halt and people could no longer get work experience. "It was extremely difficult for them to get started in the industry," she says. "I wanted to help as much as possible, so I started the account to share resources, my own advice, and just try to make this a little bit easier for them."

Sembhi, like Tomanova, applied for numerous jobs after graduating in 2018. "I wasn't getting anywhere and it was really frustrating,” she says. Chandni eventually got her break at PopBuzz a few months later where she stayed for a while before moving on to freelancing until she ended up at Channel 5 for two and a half years.

During the lockdown, young people reported feelings of boredom and loneliness, 42 percent of which said that it was worsening their mental well-being. Tereza’s own well-being suffered greatly as a result of the situation. "I've always felt like the 'golden child’," she says. "I knew what I wanted to do, so I went to university and did the internships so I wasn't fully prepared to spend a year applying for jobs and failing."

"I applied for a job that I really wanted at the beginning of this year but didn't get it," Sembhi says. "I was feeling down about for a few months, but it got to the point where I had to tell myself that it wasn't the only job in the world. There are other things out there I could be really good at.

“If I’m being honest, the Channel 5 job didn’t seem that exciting and I ended up really loving it. Just remind yourself that even though you didn’t get the job you wanted, there are other things out there,” she says.

Tomanova admits to going through phases where she questioned whether she was even qualified for a job in the media industry or if she had in fact chosen the wrong path. "Getting a feedback from the employers would’ve helped me so much. You just never know what you’re doing wrong, so at some point I thought to myself ‘What’s the point of even trying?’,” she says. “I experienced my lowest point in February. I thought that in the new year I’d be able to start my new career. Instead, I spent days crying, thinking I won’t be able to find a job in journalism.”

Fortunately, in August of this year, she was able to find work and is now employed as a broadcast associate at Amazon Prime Video. While it isn't her dream job, it is her first job in the industry and one she truly enjoys.

“My dream job is still yet to come, but I enjoy it and I’m really happy for the opportunity,” she says. “It showed me I just needed to wait for the right moment where things change. The opportunity gave me a massive confidence boost just at the time when I needed it.”