What trainees said about the course

Read the great things our former trainees have said about our courses and what it meant for their careers.

Kiro Evans

Kiro Evans - 'My copy improved dramatically, as I was taught the dynamics of news writing, both in a theoretical and practical sense'

I had no idea what to expect when I signed up for the Press Association's NCTJ course. I knew that gaining the qualification would help land a job, but not much besides that.

It did indeed help my job prospects, but that was only about 1% of what I took out of the course. All in 17 weeks, I was given a whole new appreciation for news and how it functioned, I gradually learnt what precisely a story is and what skills I needed to be able to find one. 

My copy improved dramatically, as I was taught the dynamics of news writing, both in a theoretical and practical sense. After a few weeks I found I could knock out a story with far less difficulty than before. 

My communication skills increased ten-fold, helped largely by the fact that every day I was around fellow journalists, many with similar interests and ambitions. 

And, of course, I was blessed with shorthand, an ability which I gained only after several weeks of agonising frustration. But as I am now set to head into courts and tribunals with regularity, it has revealed to be an indispensable skill. 

But this is not a course for the faint-hearted. If you cannot drag yourself out of bed every day for an early start and if you are not organised enough to balance a workload which will build from week to week, than this course may not be for you. 

 But if you do have those attributes, it's the best first step before becoming a journo. 

Kiro Evans // Trainee journalist at The Sun

Rebekah Evans

Rebekah Evans - 'In just 17 weeks I honed my craft with the help and guidance of the tutorial team, whose support is second to none'

The course at PA Training was undoubtedly a whirlwind but one which I relished greatly, and have come to look back fondly upon – even if it was incredibly intense at the time!

Having always known journalism was for me, I was determined to solidify my skill set after my degree – and there was no better place to do so than PA Training, with the prestige, reputation and incredible weight the name carries in the industry.

I was blessed to immediately hit the ground running on the Diploma course and, even in what seems like such a short period of time, I gained an immense amount of knowledge. I even became a surprising fan of media law, which I never would have imagined!

In just 17 weeks I honed my craft with the help and guidance of the tutorial team, whose support is second to none. I have also truly made friends for life.

I do not underestimate the impact this course has had on my professional life. It propelled me headlong into a career – my first full-time role working in a national newsroom – and with the skills I need to make an impact.

If you want to further yourself, learn an incredible amount and develop valuable skills for the future, this is the perfect place to do so. 

Rebekah Evans // News reporter Daily Express online

Rianna Croxford

Rianna Croxford - '​PA training allows you to hit the ground running in every newsroom'​

PA Training has given me the confidence and solid grounding needed to become a great journalist. The name is well-known for a reason: PA training allows you to hit the ground running in every newsroom. And I could never forget the Journalism Diversity Fund - whose support made becoming a journalist a possibility.

Rianna Croxford // Award-winning BBC news journalist

Lucy Skoulding

Lucy Skoulding - 'Financially I really needed to work full time alongside getting my NCTJ and this course absolutely allowed me to do that'

I was over the moon when I discovered the part-time PA course. Financially I really needed to work full time alongside getting my NCTJ and this course absolutely allowed me to do that. The achievement you feel when you get to the end of the course knowing you’ve completed it while holding down other commitments is unimaginable.

The support from the tutors at PA is incredible. Each and every one is always willing to help, even if you email them in the evenings or at weekends. They truly care, even after you’ve finished the course, ready to assist if you need help with your job search. They are inspiring, and have designed a course which is fun, varied, practical, and engaging.

Getting the NCTJ qualification will be invaluable to your journalism career but studying with PA brings you so much more than that. You make friends and contacts for life in your classmates and you build a confidence that will prepare you to excel in your first role. When you walk through PA’s doors you are no longer an aspiring reporter; you are treated as a journalist who is embarking on the first stage in a very exciting career.

From studying the law, ethics, and how our government operates to filming mobile videos, mastering shorthand, and designing print pages, you won’t believe how much you’ve learned by the time you complete the course.

Lucy Skoulding // Journalist - Accountancy Age

Amar Mehta

Amar Mehta - 'The course definitely helped enhance my CV and get me a job almost 2 weeks after the course finished'

Not only did I learn several skills, but many doors opened for me in the industry. One of the most beneficial skills has to be shorthand - its a pain to learn but incredibly useful. Training at the Press Association was great.

I have used it every day at work since I left the course. The 17-weeks flew by but it was a great experience. The course definitely helped enhance my CV and get me a job almost 2 weeks after the course finished. I would not have been able to do the course without the help of the Journalism Diversity Fund.

Amar Mehta // Litigation reporter, The Lawyer

Georgia Chambers

Georgia Chambers - 'I left PA with more confidence in myself and in my profession, knowing I will be able to walk into any newsroom with the capabilities to thrive as a journalist.'

Reflecting upon my 17 weeks at PA, I realise I walked into the office every day loving every minute of what I was doing, and it’s not often you get the chance to say that about your work. From a relentless syllabus of law and government to dreaded shorthand practice, whilst I’m not sure it got any easier; it certainly became more enjoyable with each passing day and my tutors encouraged me to the point where I had no doubt in my mind that I was more than capable of achieving. 

The tutors are not joking when they say the course is intense, but this is all in preparation for the kind of pace you will be expected to work at in a newsroom environment. How they manage to cram in so much training into 17 weeks is quite remarkable, and from workshops in data journalism to video and radio production, they make sure no specialism of journalism, however niche, is left neglected. As cliché as it sounds, the skills I’ve learned and the contacts I’ve made will last a lifetime.

My fellow trainees became my friends, fan base and support network and their incredible talents have made me very excited about what they have to offer the future of journalism. I left PA with more confidence in myself and in my profession, knowing I will be able to walk into any newsroom with the capabilities to thrive as a journalist. 

Georgia Chambers // BuzzFeed, news reporter

Jess Sheldon

Jess Sheldon - 'Doing the course gave me the confidence that I needed to enter into the world of journalism and to apply for jobs that, four months earlier, I thought I would never be able to get.'

I'd heard great things about the course so I knew it was the right decision for me before I had started, but PA still managed to exceed my expectations. From the advice and contacts that the tutors show they have genuine interest that they have in each and every student, it would be hard not to feel thoroughly supported by the PA Training team. They really do go above and beyond to help you - even after the 17 weeks are over. 

Most importantly, doing the course gave me the confidence that I needed to enter into the world of journalism and to apply for jobs that, four months earlier, I thought I would never be able to get. The course is so sociable too, which is really important, and we all came away with friends for life.

The course is hands-on from the start, and it was easily the most productive 17 weeks of my life. Now that I'm putting the skills I've learnt into practice full-time, I can see just how crucial each of the modules are - and learning shorthand has made my life so much easier. I chose the fast-track NCTJ because I felt it would be much more practical than a masters, and it was definitely the right decision for me. The Press Association is a well respected name, and I think having the association with them can really make journalists stand out.

Jess Sheldon // Showbiz Reporter, Daily Express

Charles Capel

Charles Capel - 'There really is no better place to train in journalism than with the Press Association'

The tutors were real journalists who love the industry and they always had a moment to sit down with you to chat or give advice. Using decades of experience, the tutors always had anecdotes or examples to back up what they were telling you. There really is no better place to train in journalism than with the Press Association. 

The NCTJ course was the kickstart I needed to get ahead in journalism. In today’s industry competency in video, digital journalism, and data is just as important as writing a great article. Training with PA opened doors that would have otherwise been closed.

Training with the next generation of journalists is a real honour, I have made some great friends (and contacts) for life.

Charles Capel // Internship (Business desk), CNN International

Olivia Gantzer

Olivia Gantzer - 'Deciding to start the course was, without a doubt, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made'

During the four months I spent at PA I learned everything I needed to learn to land my dream career as a journalist.  In my short time there, the passion I already had for news was ignited; I was given such a grounding for all areas of journalism and I was able to learn a skill as essential to my career as shorthand in such a short space of time. Deciding to start the course was, without a doubt, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. 

On top of the essential skills and news sense that I was able to develop on the course, I also had so much fun and made lifelong friends. I was so lucky to be able to get a job so soon after the course ended which I know I would never have been able to get without such an important qualification from a respected establishment. It’s crazy to think how many doors the course has opened for me – it really is a life changer.

Olivia Gantzer // Reporter, Archant - Bexley Times, Bromley Times, Gravesend Reporter

Shamaan Freeman-Powel

Shamaan Freeman-Powell - 'The help and support from tutors at PA has been invaluable'

Wow, where do I start. I have learned an awful lot. But putting Law, government and shorthand aside, I think confidence has been the area I have improved the most in. 

Having your copy and work being discussed in front of your peers seemed daunting at first. However, this experience made me recognise my skills as well as acknowledge the things I need to work on and prepared me for the real world of journalism (where not everybody is going to agree with your ideas/opinions)

The help and support from tutors at PA, specifically Mark & Fiona has been invaluable, they gave me a push when I needed it and a listening ear when things got stressful. 

Shamaan Freeman-Powel // Trainee Researcher, BBC Home Affairs Team

Sam Preston

Sam Preston - 'I would recommend this course to any aspiring journalist'

The course was an amazing opportunity to learn a wide range of new skills from hugely experienced tutors. My standard of writing has improved dramatically and I have been exposed to new areas of the media such as video, radio, sub-editing and data journalism. 

I would recommend this course to any aspiring journalist. I made friends on the course that I hope to have for life. 

Sam Preston // Online sports reporter, The Boot Room

Loretta Thomas

Loretta Thomas - 'I arrived knowing nothing and left feeling knowledgeable about what is required of me to approach my desired career in journalism'

I attended the NCTJ Diploma in News reporting at the Press Association with absolutely no clue as to what to expect other than my wanting to be a journalist, but completed the course feeling like I received much more than I could have ever imagined. The training I received from my tutors the majority of whom are journalists was second to none. Every tutor gave of themselves freely and willingly to help me and my peers to understand our subjects and achieve our best results.

I have learnt that I posses a tenacity and determination that I may have never discovered if I had not embarked upon my journey of learning and career change. I never profess to know everything but one thing I do know, that it was a blessing to have undertaken the NCTJ News Reporting Diploma at the Press Association because the name alone speaks for itself. 

I completed my course realizing that I arrived knowing nothing and left feeling knowledgeable about what is required of me to approach my desired career in journalism. 

I started with the best and believe I can only rise from this point onwards. I am truly blessed, it was the beginning of an amazing journey.

Loretta Thomas // London-based freelance reporter

George Martin

George Martin 'The intensity of the training programme is the perfect preparation for being thrown in at the deep end at a national paper.'

“The course has been invaluable in helping me find a job and I would highly recommend it for anyone looking to get more serious about a career in journalism.

"I learnt so much during my 17 weeks at PA, both in terms of technique and also from the myriad of successful journalists who came in to talk to us.

"The intensity of the training programme is the perfect preparation for being thrown in at the deep end at a national paper. Within minutes of starting work I found myself applying the legal theory which had been painstakingly memorised for the NCTJ exams.

"There were plenty of late nights and stressful moments, but I can honestly say it has all been worth it.”

George Martin // Daily Star, News Reporter

Olawale Kuponipe

Olawale Kuponipe - "I credit all of my journalistic knowledge and skills to the tutors and fellow journalists I met at the Press Association."

"I credit all of my journalistic knowledge and skills to the tutors and fellow journalists I met at the Press Association. It has definitely held me in good stead during my Sports traineeship at PA which I was lucky to get straight after the course. The Press Association took a chance on me and I haven't looked back since.

"As Tony Johnston said from day one, it is not for the faint-heartened and you are tested from the get go but it is certainly the best preparation for any journalist looking to succeed in the newsroom.

"At first, I felt like 17-weeks would not give me enough time to immerse myself into subjects such as Public Affairs and Shorthand but the length of course, as well as the lectures provided, efficiently prepared me for every challenge the world of journalism has thrown out at me. The hands-on, fast-paced course was a preferable option for me rather than going through a year-long masters degree.

"I was so fortunate to meet some amazing people, who I still keep in touch with and all of us have moved on to bigger things due to the guidance and important contacts from other news outlets provided on PA training course.

"The tutors and guest speakers were also invaluable in helping me build my confidence in the newsroom as their expertise and past experiences was vital in my development as a journalist.

"The modules were highly relevant to the current climate of journalism and I still refer back to my shorthand notebook and McNae textbook to help me when needed during my traineeship.

"My advice to anyone applying to the course is prepare for many sleepless nights but as long as your passionate about news, then the PA training course offer the best route into a career in journalism."

Olawale Kuponipe // Trainee Sports Journalist, PA

George Clarke

George Clarke "The course with PA was challenging and by no means a stroll in the park."

"The course with PA was challenging and by no means a stroll in the park – and that’s why it was the perfect preparation for working in the fast-paced environment of a national newsroom. 

"The teaching is top drawer and incredibly supportive. The staff are journalists who treat you like peers. They’ve worked everywhere from the BBC and ITV to local papers and everything in between. Due to their vast amount of experience they have the inside track on the industry and help you recognise, develop, refine and publish stories.

"I studied the sport module in London and both Mark and Lee are great teachers. The pair of them have extensive knowledge of how sports reporting works and will test your ability. They treat you like proper journalists and expect you to be on the pulse with everything going on in the world of sport from the AFL to Accrington Stanley."

George Clarke // Trainee Sub editor, Daily Mail Sport

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Lucy Skoulding

'Financially I really needed to work full time alongside getting my NCTJ and this course absolutely allowed me to do that'

Lucy Skoulding // Journalist - Accountancy Age

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