Jessica Linzey graduated from UBC’s School of Journalism in 2011. Since then, she has worked as a freelance journalist. In November 2011, she traveled to Haiti on an IDRC grant to report on the role of architecture and design in the country’s post-disaster reconstruction.
Linzey reflected on her time at UBC and how it has prepared her for a career in journalism:
About her work experience:
Before enrolling at the SOJ, I had been a practicing journalist for about eight years. I started in print here in Canada, but eventually ended up overseas in Europe. In Europe I worked first as a producer of live media events, and later as a producer on a current affairs program for Al Jazeera English.
When I did eventually return to Canada, I found that I was drawn more and more to radio. I had been weaned on CBC Radio 1, so, in a way, it seemed the natural transition to me at that point in my career. But I had no idea how to break in. Most of my contacts and my experience obviously were in print and in television. So, the J-School actually gave me an opportunity to explore radio and an opportunity to intern with CBC’s The Sunday Edition.
Working with The Sunday Edition was a wonderful experience. I was encouraged to pitch, to write, to really take the time to explore stories fully. The producers made themselves available to walk through my ideas and my scripts with me whenever I felt the need. I learned so much while I was there. Once in Vancouver, I made sure to keep in touch with my executive producer. So, I continued to pitch and produce stories for the program whenever I had the time. Now, I hear things differently. My writing is stronger and my confidence is as well, and I’m still constantly learning. I think ultimately what I’ll take away from UBC is that there’s always more to learn; that I have to keep listening, reading, watching, writing and seeking out mentors and colleagues; and that good journalism takes practice, lots and lots of practice.
I do hope to continue working for the CBC in the future. It’s something that’s certainly a possibility now that I have some experience there and that I found a champion or two within the organization. And I do plan to continue to carry out the lessons I learned both there and at UBC forward.
I am in touch with many of my classmates, both personally and professionally. Working as a freelancer, I find I crave the conversation and the insight of colleagues more so than my peers right now. I have a handful of dear friends from the J-school that I still occasionally share work with, especially when I’m too close to a story and I’m in need of a second pair of eyes — which seems to be the case more and more these days.
I feel I’m working kind of in a silo in Haiti. So, my way finding the simple threads and the simple stories is to bounce ideas off my friends and colleagues, many of whom are ex-classmates.
About if she would recommend the j-school to aspiring journalists:
I would recommend the SOJ to aspiring journalists, absolutely. I’d also recommended it to early career journalists as I was in my first day of school.
When I first started thinking about going back to school, I had a very clear idea of what I wanted from a journalism program. I wanted to build on my reporting skills, to sharpen my critical eye. I wanted hands-on editors who would help me to be a better writer, and I wanted the space, the time, and the mentorship to really get into a big project. The J-school gave me all of that, and it did lead me to Haiti — where I continue to be challenged every day that I’m in the field — as well. Everyday that I’m in the field, I lean on the lessons that I learned in the school.
While I’m still not sure where it will take me, I am excited for whatever comes next. I know that I have so many more opportunities available to me now in large part because of what I learned at the school.