"The highlight of my career so far has to be reporting on the final space shuttle launch from Florida - it was heart-stopping, emotional, beautiful and frantic."
Alok, Science Journalist, the Guardian
A-levels: Physics, Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Chemistry
Degree (MSci): Physics (Imperial College London)
MSc: Science Communication (Imperial College London)
What do you love about your job?
The best part about being a journalist is talking to the most interesting people about the most interesting things. I'm humbled by the fact that a professor at Oxford would take my phone call and answer my (sometimes-silly) questions about their work. I just want to understand stuff and it feels incredible that I can get most of my info straight from the source. The highlight of my career so far has to be reporting on the final space shuttle launch from Florida - it was heart-stopping, emotional, beautiful and frantic.
How do you use your physics degree in your role as a journalist?
Reporting on new areas of science can be daunting if you have no foothold whatsoever. Even knowing a completely different bit of science increases your confidence when tackling a new bit. I did a degree in physics because I was curious about how things worked and how we knew things. Afterwards, I wanted to become a journalist, so I did an extra year studying science communication as a gentle way out of the scientific mindset and into something more like the way everyone else thinks about science - which is useful when you're writing for non-scientific audiences.
What advice would you give people wanting to follow a similar career path?
To get a job in journalism you don't just have to show that you want to do it, you have to show that that have already done it in some way. If you're at university, write for the student paper; hang out at the TV station. Practice interviewing and talking to people and drawing their best stories out of them. Oh, and read, read, read good novels, newspapers, blogs and factual books. Listen and watch various media too. You have to know what's out there already to work out where you can fit in and make the best contribution.
With thanks to The Institute of Physics< Back to Real Life Stories