Ben Cooper outside a BBC buildingBen Cooper

Senior Broadcast Journalist, BBC News

MA International Political Communication, University of Sheffield, 2011–12

A recognised qualification from such a reputable place gave me the boost I was hoping for; those extra few lines on my CV were the difference, ultimately leading me to where I am today

I've recently started working at the BBC as a Senior Broadcast Journalist with the Reality Check team. It's a relatively new team within the corporation's news and current affairs output, collaborating with teams right across the BBC. We produce fact-checking content for radio, TV and online, on subjects as varied as politics, sport and food.

Although I did have some media experience prior to taking this role, I've come here following around four and a half years working in politics. Shortly after graduating from the journalism department, I got a job in the media office of the Conservative Party's delegation in the European Parliament in Brussels, helping to handle the domestic and continental press operations.

Six months later, I moved back to the UK to work for a small political consultancy ahead of the 2015 UK General Election. My role was focused around research and strategy, and during the campaign, I was also fortunate to attend the seven-way televised leaders' debate as part of David Cameron's delegation. I worked there for a further two years (and another general election) before moving on to the BBC.

Throughout this time, I was also keen to maintain an active interest in the media. Outside of work, I dabbled in freelance music journalism, covering gigs and festivals around the UK and Europe for the likes of The Sun and The Independent, and also had stints in production roles at commercial radio stations such as Absolute Radio.

Invaluable training

It probably sounds cliched, but I'm certain that I wouldn't have had the career I've had (so far) without a postgraduate degree from the department.

I was struggling to find a full-time job for the best part of a year after graduating for the first time back in 2010, so I decided to go back to university in order to boost my employability. I'd always been interested in some kind of a media career, having been heavily involved in student media during my time as an undergraduate, but found anything more than unpaid placements or sporadic shifts hard to come by. Several friends had studied at the Department of Journalism Studies (either at undergraduate or postgraduate level), and having heard good things about their experiences, I decided that this was the place to help get me over the line.

Although my postgraduate degree was focused more towards the theoretical/academic side of journalism, the basic journalistic training we received proved invaluable after graduating the second time around. A recognised qualification from such a reputable place gave me the boost I was hoping for; those extra few lines on my CV were the difference, ultimately leading me to where I am today.

Belonging

What I found great about studying in the journalism department was the sense of belonging. Although I spent three years with a different department at the University for my undergraduate degree, this place always felt like home for me. As a student, I found the academic staff approachable, down-to-earth and very welcoming.

Since graduating, I've also noticed how strong the alumni network is, both in terms of in Sheffield and the wider world; I often catch up with former tutors (whether in Sheffield or London), and it's surprising how often you'll bump into other journalism alumni in unexpected places!

MA International Public and Political Communication More taught postgraduate degrees in journalism and communication