Jonathan Dixon - General Journalism Projects in China
The summer of 2016 was disappointing for me. Almost two years after graduating from university, I was still not working full-time or even working part-time in a job I liked. I felt like my life was beginning to stagnate. One day, I was confiding in my aunt about this problem and she suggested I take some time out and maybe do some volunteering.
After introducing me to the Projects Abroad website, I started browsing and reading about the different projects in the different countries. Initially, I largely ignored most of the projects. I honestly couldn't see myself shovelling elephant dung under the African sun or helping build a well in an Indian village – it just wasn't for me (although, more power to you if that sort of thing is for you).
After casting aside my aunt's advice, I soon found myself back in the same rut as before. After a few weeks of what seemed like meaningless work, I decided to take a closer look at the website and the different projects. That's when I discovered the projects in China.
I was immediately struck by the Journalism Project. Writing is something I have always enjoyed, yet I never had the confidence to follow it as a potential career. The Journalism Project in Shanghai seemed like a way to try it out, without the massive pressure that a similar position in London would have. For me, I saw it as a way to intern at a magazine in an exciting city in a fascinating country, and if I didn't enjoy it, it was only eight weeks out of my life.
My Journalism placement
However, I did enjoy it. In fact, I loved everything about it. Waking up every morning and looking forward to getting to work was a feeling I had never experienced before. I found myself working for a magazine, which was at the centre of the expat community in Shanghai. At my placement, I was given meaningful work; there was no tea or coffee making whatsoever.
My very first assignment was published and as I grew in the role, the editors started trusting me more and more, until I was setting my own assignments. By four weeks in, I found myself with a lot of freedom and valuable responsibility. Whether that was interviewing actor Tim Robbins (Andy Dufresne from Shawshank Redemption) or reviewing bars and restaurants all over the city.
Socially, Shanghai is one of the best cities in the world to be in. A modern, global megacity, which is the centre of the world today. A vibrant nightlife, world-class restaurants, and of course, the great people I met through Projects Abroad meant that the time I spent in Shanghai was truly unforgettable.
By the time the eight weeks were up, I had made the decision to try to get into the industry, whether here in China or back home in the UK. Luckily for me, I was offered a food editor position down in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou. After a brief stint down there, I am now a news editor at CCTV and it's all thanks to Projects Abroad.
I would say to anyone who is on the fence about a certain project, do it! You could end up discovering your passion and meeting friends for life. And if you don't enjoy your time, the experience will still serve you well in the long run. It's really a win-win.
The decision I made to join Projects Abroad was the best decision I have ever made. It put me on the path to my future.