Ka Yee Mak

Journalism BA

Working at KMTV will help me massively in the future. There’s so much I know how to do now.

Where are you from? 

I’m from Hong Kong and I was born in China. 

How did you secure your placement?

The boss of KMTV came to our newsroom, looking for new interns. He encouraged all of us to apply. I sent over my application and they called me for an interview. I went along, very nervously. After a week, they told me that I’d got the internship, so that was extremely exciting. I was quite nervous, not just about the internship, but about any job here in the UK because English isn’t my first language. It’s my third language. So I was bracing myself for the result, but it turned out well. 

When did you start at KMTV? 

The first shift was before the March 2020 lockdown. Then there was a long pause because of the lockdown. Then I started working for KMTV again at the end of October. Ever since then I’ve been going in every week and it varies – sometimes it’ll be three days a week, sometimes five. The placement should last until the end of the academic year, and sometimes KMTV keeps people on after graduation. 

I’ve been doing different things, and I’m enjoying learning as much as possible about TV news. 

Sometimes I’ll be in the newsroom working on packages, which involves writing, and editing videos. Other times I’ll be down in the studio in the gallery, working on the technical side of the programme, including putting packages into the playout for the night’s programme. 

I’ve also been out filming vox pops and filming a package.  

What's been the highlight of your internship so far?

The most exciting part has been going out to film a package that will be used in a new programme. I really enjoyed it. It was about a lighting shop in Rochester that will be closing down after 23 years. I went down to their shop and took lots of footage of their lights. I had a nice time chatting to the shop owner and he showed me pictures of his grandchildren. And I got to talk to his daughter. They were both very friendly. 

The experience reminded me that being a journalist in the real world can be very exciting because you get to know people’s stories that you wouldn’t be able to know otherwise. 

Another part I enjoy is being in the gallery, deciding which packages will be on TV. So if I make a mistake, people would be able to see that at home. So that’s nerve-wracking but exciting too. 

How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected your placement?

An unexpected benefit has been that some people have been unable to come into the studios, so I’ve had a chance to do more and different types of work. 

How will your internship help you in the future?

It will help me massively. There’s so much I know how to do now: write a script; talk on camera; frame a shot; adjust colour and volume, do playouts. All of this will help me in the future – I’m sure of that. 

What are your plans for after graduation? 

I want to stay in England as a journalist. I’m from Hong Kong/ China and I wouldn’t want to go back there as a journalist, because the media world is very different. 

Because of my experience at KMTV I’d really like to work in broadcast journalism and I’ll do whatever I can to be in the sector. 

What support have you received from the Centre for Journalism? 

Choosing to study at the Centre for Journalism was the best decision I ever made. It’s quite a small, friendly department. Everyone knows everyone else and so we have quite a close relationship with our lecturers. They are very supportive and they help whenever they can.  

For the first year, I was really nervous about everything. Reading English, talking English and learning new things in English. 

They’ve been incredibly kind and helped me a lot, especially when I was struggling, and particularly my mentor. 

Our lecturers also post about new internships and vacancies, and they make us believe that there’s a world full of possibilities out there, as long as we try. They’ve been really helpful. 

Also, I wouldn’t have the internship at KMTV without the Centre, because of the relationship between the two.  

The Centre's undergraduate courses are practically-focused. What difference does that make to the students?

The CfJ teaches journalism in a way that’s close to how things work in the real world. That means we’re not as scared to go out and work in journalism. 

So in my internship, everything I learned at the Centre is applicable to my work there.  

One of the most important things the CfJ teaches us is news judgement. That’s the way we view the world, the way we think about news, has a really big impact on our work.  

You gain experience of how daily news schedules are selected, so when you go into the workplace you’re not scared or nervous. You already know how things work. 

What help have you received to adapt to studying in the UK?

The things that helped me most during my first year were my friends and my lecturers. 

Initially, I really struggled to write a news story in 20 minutes. It could take me half an hour just to read through everything that appeared on my screen. When my course mates were next to me, typing really fast, I was still struggling to read everything. 

But, the lecturers were very nice and understanding, and they gave me belief in myself. And now, I’m doing the same things as everybody else. 

My friends have been really encouraging and positive. They say ‘you’re a good journalist, you can do this’. They keep reminding me of the qualities I should remember. They’ve been so kind. 

How would you say you've developed since you started at Kent?

I’ve changed a lot. If you told me three years ago that I’d be speaking English on a TV station in England I’d have said ‘you’re crazy’! I’ve definitely come a long way. I can do everything that my course mates do, I’ve even done things that they can’t do! 

I’ve achieved a lot academically. More importantly, I’ve improved my mindset. I had a lot of self-doubt to start with and compared myself with my course mates. Over time, I’ve learned how to cope with that and think a bit more positively, to believe in myself a bit more. It turns out, it was only my way of thinking that was stopping me. I’ve grown up a lot in the past two-and-a-half years. 

What advice would you give to a student starting your course?

Whether Covid is still making an impact in autumn 2021 or not, I think it’s always true that things are hardest at the beginning. Especially for international students, who might be as terrified as I was at the start of uni. 

The long road ahead might seem very scary. But just remember that it’s just a temporary phase. You just need to take the first step and push yourself. Things change and people change. If you’re not having the best time at first, don’t panic. Things will turn out fine. Whether there’s Covid or not, just tell yourself that things will be better once you’ve taken the first step. You’ll get there eventually.