By Santina Kansiime and Ananda Tayebwa
Nkoyoyo Hall at Uganda Christian University (UCU) buzzed with excitement on June 30th as the School of Journalism, Media, and Communication, in collaboration with the African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME), hosted the first annual career symposium.
The theme of the event, “Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges,” aimed to provide participants with a comprehensive exploration of alternative career paths within the media field, extending beyond traditional journalism jobs.
Distinguished speakers took the stage to emphasize the significance of these career paths in shaping media practice, professionalism, and the overall societal impact of the media.
They highlighted the growing importance of research and advocacy in media development, urging the future heirs of journalism to consider diverse avenues for their careers.
One speaker, Ms Jan Ajwang, a programming manager at Media Focus on Africa, shed light on the challenges faced by women in journalism.
“Ten years ago, it was difficult to find women on panels discussing journalism issues,” she remarked, underscoring the need for more gender inclusivity in the industry.
Another crucial aspect discussed during the symposium was the financial realities of journalism.
Students pursuing journalism were confronted with the fact that the field often offers low pay, leading to doubts about their future earning potential.
Jan Ajwang shared her own experience in the newsroom, where she initially faced disappointment when her efforts did not match her meager paycheck. However, she persevered and eventually caught the attention of an organization that recognised her talent and rewarded her hard work.
“To those of you who think there is no money in journalism, you have to keep going and eventually your efforts will be rewarded,” she reassured the aspiring journalists in the audience.
The students were also encouraged to find role models in the media industry and learn from their experiences.
Ms Claire Muhindo, an online content creator at ACME, posed a thought-provoking question, asking, “What’s more important to me now, is it fun or work?” Her query resonated with each person in the hall, urging them to contemplate their own motivations and aspirations.
The hunger for stories and the pursuit of news remain core elements of journalism. Edward Tumwiine, a digital communication specialist and trainer, urged the future journalists to constantly stay aware of trends and evolve with them.
“The world is your playground. Put yourself in situations where you’re most likely to succeed,” he advised, emphasizing the need for adaptability and resilience in the field.
During the symposium, the speakers engaged with the future journalists, addressing their questions and concerns.
One student raised an intriguing query about journalists becoming influencers. Abaas Mpindi, CEO of Media Challenge Initiative, responded, stating that journalists are the original influencers, but today’s influencers focus more on acquiring numbers.
He encouraged the students not to shy away from gaining followers, but also reminded them to stay true to their journalistic integrity.
The symposium also addressed the challenges faced by female journalists in certain media houses.
The speakers discussed these issues and offered possible solutions, preparing the students for the realities they may encounter in their careers.
Constance Ichuma, a female photographer at UCU, emphasized the importance of speaking out against sexual harassment and refusing to tolerate any form of discomfort.
The event concluded with exhibitions from various teams at the School of Journalism, Media, and Communication, showcasing their skills through articles, photography, news broadcasting, and more.
Students like Merinah Mbabazi, Luba Pauline, Nuwaine Dismas, and Michael Ainomugisha displayed their impressive work, leaving a lasting impression on the attendees.
“It wasn’t something I was initially excited about, but I’m really glad I attended. It was truly an eye-opening experience,” expressed Ms. Alupo Martha, a second-year student, reflecting on her time at the first annual Career Symposium held at Uganda Christian University (UCU).
The afternoon session of the symposium was led by a team of influential personalities from the journalism and communication fields.
Among them were Mr. Waigolo, the Public Relations Officer for the National Council for Higher Education, Ms. Carol Beyanga, an editor for the Daily Monitor, Mrs. Patty Houston, a communications consultant from UCU Partners, and Dr. Ann Mugunga, an esteemed academic.
These industry experts graciously shared their insights and experiences, providing invaluable knowledge and mentorship to the enthusiastic attendees.
The symposium went beyond enriching learning experiences. It created a unique platform for networking with industry professionals and potential mentors. Attendees had the opportunity to forge meaningful connections, opening doors to exciting career prospects in the future.
Moreover, the event served as a talent showcase, allowing participants to present their works, including articles, podcasts, and more. The guest speakers provided encouraging and supportive feedback, motivating the aspiring media professionals to continue honing their craft.
As the day progressed, the symposium transitioned into the evening session, which premiered a movie produced by one of the students, Brian Kabogozza.
The screening drew the presence of various distinguished guests, including Patrick Kwezi from NBS TV and staff members from the School of Journalism, Media, and Communication, among others.
Inspired by the excellence demonstrated throughout the event, graduates of the School of Journalism, Media, and Communication (SMJC) are poised to utilize their skills to expose corruption, advocate for social justice, and amplify the voices of marginalized communities.
Armed with their pens and lenses, they are determined to create a more informed, empathetic, and impactful world.
The first annual Career Symposium at UCU has set the stage for the transformation of these aspiring media professionals into the influential figures of tomorrow. With their passion and dedication, they are ready to shape the future of media and make a positive difference in society.