Exploring student perspectives at QUT’s School of Communication: Bridgette Vanderwolf

By T.J. Thomson/ Media and Communication
Learn about journalism and law student Bridgette Vanderwolf's experience at Australia’s top-ranked School of Communication.

In 2018, QUT’s School of Communication launched its newly developed Bachelor of Communication degree allowing students to enroll in any of its five study areas: Digital Media, Media and Entertainment Industries, Journalism, Professional Communication, and Advertising and Public Relations.

Additionally, students in select study areas can pursue double degrees in business, information technology, justice, law, science, nutrition science, and public health, allowing them greater career flexibility and additional post-graduation options.

The Creative Industries Faculty, in which the School of Communication is housed, hosts more than 5,000 students. Of these, more than 10% are internationals and 63% are women. In 2019, QUT’s School of Communication was recognised as the country’s best and the 16th best worldwide. Beyond these statistics, though, what’s it like to be a student in our School?

Image by Dr T.J. Thomson, FHEA

“Studying journalism in the midst of a tumultuous media landscape has been a hugely rewarding experience.”

Q: What attracted you to QUT/The School of Communication?

I chose to study journalism at QUT because of the promise of real-world experience. At QUT, this is more than just a slogan. As students we engaged with various industry members both at events and throughout our subjects. Working alongside practitioners and academics from the field helped to highlight what life as a journalist would be like outside the classroom. The vast industry engagement and work experience opportunities greatly enhanced my learning experience.

Q. What skills or experiences learnt here will you take with you beyond the university?

The skills I have developed in the School of Communication will undoubtedly help to carry me through the rest of my career. These skills have not just helped me with assessment but have transferred across all facets of my life. My studies have taught me the importance of interpersonal skills and critical thinking. While especially obvious when pitching story ideas or conducting interviews with sources, these skills have also helped me in my legal studies and other professional development. Being able to connect with people, build a rapport and also get down to the important issues is something that will help regardless of what career path I pursue.

Q. What advice do you have for students who want to study here?

Students who want to thrive at QUT should get involved in every opportunity that they can. The School of Communication offers fantastic internship opportunities to all students. Every week my inbox would be filled with opportunities to intern with community radio and local newspapers to some of Australia’s most renowned TV and print publications. QUT staff are committed to ensuring students are exposed to the “real world” before they leave university. So, reply to all of those emails, put your hand up and have a go! There’s nothing to lose!

Q. What’s something you’ve learnt here that would be difficult to learn on your own or elsewhere?

My studies have enabled me to experience first-hand what life as a journalist would be like. Working for QUT News in one of my subjects exposed me to a real-life working newsroom. QUT boasts state-of-the-art facilities and technology which replicates that used in the industry. As such, my journalism studies took me far beyond simple writing skills. Thanks to these experiences, I am now equipped to tackle every aspect of a story, from its initial pitch to shooting and recording interviews and also back in the edit suite to finalise the story’s production.

Q. What has been your experience so far with the double-degree program (Journalism and Law) you selected?

Studying Law and Journalism at QUT has been a challenging but rewarding journey. My journalism courses allowed me to pursue my interests by giving me opportunities to cover various different stories. My journalism studies also took me out of the classroom and into a real newsroom, allowing me to see what life would be like as a working journalist.

My double degree allowed me to think both critically and creatively. While I loved the research and argumentative facets of my legal education, I also enjoyed the ‘people’ aspect of journalism. Being able to pitch stories and interview various sources was a great opportunity to develop not only my interviewing techniques but my interpersonal skills.

I am confident all of these skills will serve me well in whatever career path I choose to pursue, whether that be in law or in journalism.

Hopefully these insights will provide a better perspective into what it’s like to be a student at Australia’s top-ranked School of Communication. If you’ve already completed a bachelor’s degree and are interested in further study and up-skilling your career, consider our newly launched Master of Digital Communication course or a doctoral-level qualification.