When I finished my History of Art degree at UCL a few years ago and decided I actually wanted to be a reporter, I had no clue how to go about pursuing my dream career.
Then, after completing my post-graduate journalism qualification early in 2013, I had the tools I needed to do the job, just no actual job to speak of.
Enter Creative Access.
As most graduates will agree, there’s only so long you can survive working in the city for no pay before it becomes apparent what a ridiculously unrealistic life choice it is.
Unfortunately, work experience and internships are an unfortunate yet often necessary means to an end when it comes to getting your foot in the door.
So when I was offered a paid internship with a local newspaper through Creative Access, it could not have come at a better time.
I was led to it by the NCTJ’s Journalism Diversity Fund, which funded my fast-track journalism course at News Associates in Wimbledon.
I spent six weeks working as an intern at two Newsquest titles – the Wimbledon Guardian and the News Shopper – before returning to the latter as a trainee reporter a couple of months later.
Under the guidance of a closely-knit team of reporters and editors, I learned the ropes of being a local news reporter – covering everything from exciting court cases to mundane council meetings.
And then one evening, after a Creative Access event at the House of Commons, Josie encouraged me to apply to MailOnline’s graduate trainee scheme.
Thanks to the portfolio and skills I had amassed during my time as a Creative Access intern, I managed to land a coveted spot on the scheme.
During my first year, I received further training with Press Association and was sent on placements around the country, including stints at the Birmingham Mail and the Scottish Daily Mail.
Surprisingly for Scotland, my few months in Glasgow last summer were filled with (mostly) sunshine.
It was also an amazing time to be a journalist north of the border.
I spent my days constantly on my feet, reporting extensively on the Commonwealth Games and Scotland’s independence referendum.
And it was at the Scottish Daily Mail that I landed the biggest scoop of my career so far when I unveiled the identity of jihadi bride Aqsa Mahmood.
The story also won me the runner-up award for Scoop of the Year at the Scottish Press Awards in April.
And despite usually being quite afraid to get in front of a camera, I was interviewed about it for a BBC documentary called Britain’s Jihadi Brides.
On the programme, I revealed how I managed to connect an anonymous blog and Twitter account to a teenager from Glasgow who was radicalised and fled to Syria.
From there, I went to work in MailOnline’s London office writing the stories everybody loves to read.
I’ve covered everything from ISIS to the general election with a few adorable, viral stories in between.
It’s unbelievable, but I’m now working in the New York office for the next year as a US reporter.
So, if there’s one thing I can say about Creative Access, it’s this: they make dreams come true.
But you do have to work pretty hard for what you’re passionate about as well. So don’t give up – something amazing could be just around the corner.