The world has been gripped by the Rio 2016 Olympics, with billions tuning in to watch the world’s greatest athletes compete and see Team GB win a record-breaking 67 medals.

Natalie Pirks

One person with a front row seat was BU journalism graduate, and BBC Sports Correspondent, Natalie Pirks, who was out in Rio covering the games.

“It was relentless,” says Natalie. “I was on every bulletin, reporting live and packaging every day for 21 days solidly, working 14 hour days.

“However, the experience of being at my first foreign games was brilliant and I did at least get to see a few medals live - including Mo Farah's 10k gold, Nicola Adams and Andy Murray.”

She believes her BA (Hons) Multimedia Journalism degree from BU stood her in good stead.

Natalie Pirks

Natalie, who graduated in 2000, said: “I wanted a course which was well respected within journalism and combined NCTJ qualifications.

“I also wasn't sure whether I wanted to go into TV, radio or written journalism so it appealed to me that I would get a broad range. I now do all three in my job!

“My experience was excellent - the course and tutors were all top drawer and my uni years in Bournemouth were some of the best in my life.”

She adds that the combination of skills learnt throughout the course – including shorthand – and practical experience gained helped boost her employability upon graduating.

“It tried to give us experience of working to deadline - something I now do daily for the 1,6 and 10 o’clock national news,” said Natalie.

“I was employed within a month of leaving uni, for an online magazine, and know the fact I was fully 'tooled up' in terms of my NCTJ exams had a large bearing.

“It's such an incredibly competitive environment that doing a course like BU’s Multimedia Journalism degree can give you the edge with employers.”

Natalie won a BBC talent competition after graduating from BU, and got a job as a reporter for the sports show Grandstand.

“It was an amazing foot in the door,” Natalie said. “After a year, I moved to Radio 1 Newsbeat as a reporter – something I could never have done without my journalism degree.”

Natalie then worked as a sports reporter for ITN, travelled the world with the England football team as a sports presenter and journalist for broadcaster Setanta, and then became a sports reporter and correspondent for ITV News.

She joined the BBC as a sports correspondent in 2013 and reports primarily for the main three national bulletins as well as Radio 2, 4, Radio 5 Live, the BBC news channel and online. 

Natalie’s advice for other budding journalists is to make the most of work experience opportunities - and perfect your tea-making skills!

“Work experience is key because so much of this job is about contacts. They can really open the door,” she said.

“Listen and learn from everyone you work with - the best journalists are like sponges. Make yourself invaluable - learn how everyone likes their tea! And never stop being prepared to learn.”