Professional Profiles

Journalism grad: 'It's amazing how much you can grow'

Photo by Greg Ehlers
May 04, 2015
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By Amy Robertson

Thanks to SFU Continuing Studies' New Media Journalism Certificate—and a lot of hard work—Alan O'Sullivan will never work an unrewarding job again.

After finishing a bachelor's degree in history in 2012, O'Sullivan worked steadily in retail, but craved a career that would let him be more creative. So, hoping to put his writing abilities to use, he completed SFU's journalism program, where he learned a mix of skills, including professional social media use, news writing, blogging, interviewing, and video production.

After finishing classes, O'Sullivan landed reporting practicums with the Vancouver Observer and the Vancouver Weekly, where he wrote features, news stories, and opinion pieces. He also covered the Vancouver Canucks—he even got to watch a game from the press box thanks to a tip from a fellow reporter on Twitter.

O'Sullivan also picked up some freelance work in copywriting through a classmate. "It was a whole new type of writing, but a lot of the same skills applied," he says. Like journalists, copywriters need to get to the point right away, write clearly and be accessible.

Within a few months, O’Sullivan was ready to transfer his skills to a full-time freelance communications career. Today, he specializes in social media and copywriting. Due to powerful word of mouth and some light marketing, O'Sullivan sees no shortage of work in his future.

"There is a ton of work out there for people who can write," he says.

In a day, he'll deal with a handful of clients and work on three or four types of projects, including emails, social media posts, website copy, presentations and more.

As his own boss, O'Sullivan finds every day different and unpredictable—and that's exactly the way he likes it.

"I'd never have been able to envision this career before the program. It just never would have been something I thought was possible," he says. "It's amazing how much you can grow."