Simona Angelova had already worked at three television stations by the time she achieved her BA Honours degree in Journalism and Media in the summer of 2016.
They included the top national TV channel in her native Bulgaria, and a regional BBC station where she saw one of her pieces go on air – a rare achievement for a work experience student.
Simona made the most of her opportunities at Coventry, including spending a life-changing year in Spain through the Erasmus exchange scheme.
And on completion of her degree, she was invited to present a paper at an academic conference, based on one of her pieces of coursework in which she used media theory to examine the story of Alan Kurdi, the drowned refugee boy washed up on a Turkish beach in 2015.
“I hope it will open up a lot of opportunities and help me for networking,” she said before the conference – speaking moments after collecting her degree at Coventry Cathedral.
And she offered some strong advice for students who want to use their studies to launch a media career.
“It’s not just about doing the course because you need to to have the experience,” she said. “You need the bravery to actually step by yourself into the professional world. If you can’t do this you won’t get noticed.
“While I was a student there wasn’t a summer I was free. I was always working something connected to my degree, mainly working in TV in Bulgaria and here in the BBC.
“In Bulgaria I was on one of the national stations, BTV, and the other was TV Plus. I was also at BBC Oxford.”
She impressed her editors at Oxford so much they encouraged her to make a piece for broadcast. Her Bulgarian accent wasn’t a barrier.
“It was just my report on there,” she said. “You couldn’t see me but I was proud to see my work. It was an incredible experience and I hope to go there again.”
She also worked with the communications and marketing team at Coventry University, using her broadcast skills to make videos to promote the institution in Eastern Europe.
Simona loved her course at Coventry, but her Erasmus year at the University of Madrid with fellow Journalism and Media student Aisha Ditta, was transforming.
“That was the best experience of my life,” she said. “Coventry was a really great experience and I’m really proud that I reached this stage, but Madrid gave me a perspective and broadened my knowledge in many things, connected to my personality and journalism and professionalism.”
The university strongly encourages to take up the opportunity of a year’s study abroad – or a year out in industry. Students who’ve done so tend to perform strongly in their final year at Coventry. Simona and Aisha both achieved First Class Honours.
Getting into the media is likely to be challenging, even for star students like Simona. But as she put it, “If you want to achieve something you need to put hard work into it. And don’t give up.”