Leicester graduate talks journalism success at national daily newspaper

Kelis Cassia Edwards on her graduation day (Credit: Kelis Cassia Edwards)

A recent graduate has spoken about how the University of Leicester’s journalism course helped her land a job at one of the country’s top newspapers.

Kelis Cassia Edwards studied Journalism BA at the University of Leicester and graduated in summer 2023 at De Montfort Hall.

Since then, the 21-year-old has gone on to land the position of Editorial Assistant working at The Mirror at its headquarters in Canary Wharf, London.

Kelis, who grew up in London, said that her drive to work in the newsroom comes from her childhood. She said: “Growing up, I always loved to read and I think that led to me going into journalism.

“I always used to have a bedtime story from my parents or my sisters, because I am the youngest of three, and that then led to me collecting a lot of magazines.

“It could have been Fabulous magazine or any type of fashion magazine. I would spend all of my pocket money at this one newsagent on the corner at Portobello Road in London and buy everything that they had.

“That is how it sparked, just by reading and being interested in what people have to say really.”

Kelis moved to Leicester to start studying to be a journalist in 2020. When asked what drew her to the city and the University, Kelis said: “I just felt like I wanted to see another city. I had lived in London my whole life and had never known anything else.

“I came to an open day at the University of Leicester with a friend and met the journalism team and I just fell in love with it.”

Kelis said: “I liked the way they were teaching the course. It was very future thinking, rather than just learning shorthand, which you only really use in court.

“It was very much mixing traditional methods and modern methods and that is what made the course interesting.”

She continued: “There was a lot of analysis, which I think is really useful. There were also a lot of criminology and psychology-based modules which I found really interesting and one thing the University of Leicester emphasised a lot was media law and how to respect people’s dignity.

Talking about what she liked about Leicester as a city, Kelis said: “I really liked living in Leicester because it was an easy commute, it has really nice parks, decent shopping centre and people are just friendly. It is good to meet people from different walks of life.”

As part of her course, Kelis also was able to work with the University of Leicester’s Communications team as an intern.

Kelis then started hunting for her first job in the journalism industry. She said: “I was searching for any sort of graduate scheme or graduate job. But one thing I looked out for was somewhere that aligned with my values.

“I found Creative Access, which I really recommend for any students who want to find a job in the creative sector, and I found the job through them.

“I applied on a whim because what did I have to lose? In the first online assessment, my internet crashed and my friends and I were literally screaming because I couldn’t get online.

“Turns out that I still got through to the next stage and then I had to come to Canary Wharf for the interview.

“It was a really hot day, like 32 degrees and I was late because of the trains and I was really hot and flustered.”

She said: “I think it was mid-August when they asked if I could take the job. I asked them what it was that made me stand out and they said that it was because I was eloquent and because of the idea for a story that I had.”

When asked what advice she had for journalism students, Kelis said: “Get involved with student media, whether that is the radio, the magazine or any sort of media production.

“If you are in a society and you know that they need someone to videos or write copy and articles, that is what I got asked for in the interview.

“Start writing and putting your stuff out there, keep moving your blog because you are building up your portfolio.

“Also, just put your feelers out there and just call or email and ask can I write an article for you about this? Just keep chasing, it may seem like begging but when they see the passion, that really helps.”

Tor Clark, Associate Professor in Journalism at University of Leicester, who was Kelis’s personal tutor and programme director of the BA Journalism she studied, said: “Kelis deserves all the success she is having.

“She began her studies during the year of lockdown, so she studied her whole first year remotely, yet despite this I remember her having great story ideas. One story she wrote in her first year was about how flat-bound students had rediscovered board games.

“She was a great personality within her cohort, worked hard and volunteered beyond her studies, so I’m delighted she’s now working for a leading news publisher.

“Our Journalism degree is about finding stories and journalists getting out into the real world to make the most of its opportunities – and Kelis is a great example of all of that.”