So my first full week of the NCTJ fast track course has been completed, and it’s pretty fair to say… it is FAST-TRACK.
Before doing the course, at the interview, when talking to journalists and even in the letters, we were continuously warned about how intense the course was, how it required dedication and commitment. The fact that we should probably not have a part time job due to the amount of work we get but that in the end it was all worth it.
I somehow took this as, I’ve done school, college and three years of university – surely a ‘fast-track’ course isn’t going to be very different. Well, it is.
Me, and the other 20 people on the fast track course have all had a bit of a shock with the amount of work we have to do. Firstly the lessons run til 5.45 each day, so it’s verging on a 9 hour day we have. Secondly, we barely have time to eat lunch let alone wander around Brighton in our breaks. And thirdly, we DO have homework set, practically every day, for the next lesson.
Shorthand is something I enjoy doing, but panics me a bit. I understand the concepts and feel that I’m keeping up with the book and lessons, but the speed building scares me a lot. The gold standard for shorthand is 100 words per minute, and at the moment I think I can just about do 10. This is something you have to practice daily, hourly, whenever you can.
One of the first things we had to do, was practice writing the alphabet as quick as we could, and all joined up. It’s not as easy as you think!
The textbook is really helpful in gradually taking you through all the theory that you need to learn before practicing. There is also a CD at the back to help with dictation,although I haven’t quite got on to that yet.
Law is something I found hard in the initial lesson. It’s nothing that I have studied before, all very new and hard when you aren’t starting at the basics. There’s also quite a lot of law work to do, we get homework every week as well as reading and the additional notes. eugh.
The other modules studied are: Court reporting, Public Affairs, Production – subbing and design and reporting. And on top of this we must submit a portfolio of 10 published pieces. I have chosen to do the magazine portfolio.
I think the scariest thing is that everyone seems to think, is how we can learn all this, understand it all and reproduce it all in an exam just after Christmas. It seems like a lot of work and pretty daunting right now although I’m hoping everything will start falling into place.
NOW, back to learning shorthand before work!