Where are they now? Dan Ascher
Dan Ascher graduated in 2012 with a Masters in Journalism. He talks to the Development and Alumni Relations Team about his University experience and what he is doing now.
What attracted you to study at the University of Sheffield?
I was delighted to get an offer from the University of Sheffield. But it wasn’t just the University’s excellent academic record that attracted me. It’s the Students’ Union that really sets Sheffield apart from the other red brick universities. From the first moment I walked in to the Students’ Union building, which was buzzing with fun and friendly groups of students grabbing a snack between lectures or meeting with their sports club or society, I knew this was where I wanted to be.
From the moment you first arrive at the University of Sheffield as a fresher, students have organised a whole host of activities for all interests. The entertainments committee put on the best nights out I’ve ever had. The societies and sports committees organise the awesome activities and sports fairs, which give you the opportunity to chat to members from more than three hundred of the clubs and societies that Sheffield has to offer. The communities committee put on loads of fantastic free entertainment in the residences, which are a great way to get to know your new flatmates. Oh, and let’s not forget the departmental societies who organise some brilliant bar-crawls and other activities to help you forge friendships with your course mates so that there’s always a friendly face when you walk in to lectures.
What is your fondest university memory?
I loved waking up every day in a building full of friends and knowing that there was nowhere else in the world that I would have wanted to be, and that there was no other group of people I’d rather have been with.
Watching the sun rise over Berlin from the top platform of an abandoned golf driving range at six in the morning whilst on Bummit in 2010. We had been stuck for thirteen hours in a service station just thirty miles from the German capital whilst on the charity hitchhike event destined for Budapest in Hungary. Eventually a builder heading in to the city squeezed us in to his battered Transit van and dropped us at the derelict driving range where we warmed up before going in search of the mid-point hostel.
What bit of advice would you tell your first-year self?
Pay attention, because maths is more than just addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
What else were you involved in when you were at university (clubs/societies etc)?
After taking part in Bummit to Croatia in 2009, which I loved, I joined the committee to organise Bummit to Budapest the following year. Having discovered a love for hitchhiking, my best friend cum Bummit buddy and I hitchhiked to Tokyo. I was also on the Sheffield Rag committee for two years on the event team and as street teams coordinator. This gave me the opportunity to help organise some of Sheffield Rag’s fantastic events, including Spiderwalk, which is now a half-marathon night hike through the peak district, which last year raised thousands for some fantastic South Yorkshire charities.
I was also fortunate enough to get a job working for the Alumni Fund which gave me the opportunity to phone former students to hear about their time at the University and discuss the benefits of the Alumni Fund. It was incredible and I felt very privileged to have the chance to speak to some of the wonderful alumnus to hear the incredible stories they had to tell about their time at the university.
I also worked as a community rep for the external relations department, which allowed me to forge links between the student populous and the wider Sheffield community by chatting to residents and putting on community events.
What made you decide to continue on and do post-graduate study?
I'd always hoped to continue on and do a Masters in journalism and after completing my degree at the University of Sheffield there was no question in my mind that I would do anything else. The print journalism course provided an excellent and comprehensive training to prepare students for the exciting and fast-paced world of media and journalism. The department has an excellent reputation and superb tutors who live and breathe journalism. Their passion is completely infectious and the whole year was a tremendously exciting learning experience.
As an alumnus of the University yourself, do you think that it is important for the University to keep in touch with its former students?
The University was such a massive and fantastic part of my life, I’d be devastated if I didn’t feel the University wanted to stay in touch. So yes, I think it’s vital.
Tell us a little bit about your current job
I recently returned from a three-month internship working as a journalist for the Central Asian Times, a newspaper based in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. I found the position through an email sent by the journalism department which keeps students up-to-date with opportunities in the industry. I was required to report on up-to-the-minute political economic and political news in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. This gave me the chance to make contacts and source news from the two countries, which wasn't always easy with the language barrier. It was the most amazing experience in a beautiful and fascinating country. I have recently scored a job as an assistant producer for a large online media company, based in London. This will give me the opportunity to put the research and writing skills, learnt during my masters, to good use each and every day.
Why have you decided to pursue a career in journalism?
For me, journalism combines two major passions, speaking with people and writing, to tell an important and relevant story. I love this line of work and can’t imagine myself doing anything else.
Did your degree help you with what you are doing now?
My degree absolutely helped me to get to where I am. I can’t imagine where my life would be without my time at Sheffield.
What do you do in your spare time?
I love photography, reading, writing, hitchhiking, Couchsurfing and meeting up with old friends from the University of Sheffield.