From Psychology to Journalism with Ruby Nyika

Having finished her Science degree majoring in Psychology in Wellington, Ruby wondered, what’s next? She yearned for a job with more creativity.  After moving back to her hometown of Hamilton she searched for a course that would allow her to pursue her writing passion. Ruby enrolled in Wintecs’ Diploma in Journalism, a full-time 1-year course at Media Arts and began training as a writer and journalist from day one. As part of the intern programme at Media Arts Ruby has worked at Hamilton News and is currently placed at the Waikato Times
Read on to learn more about Ruby’s story. She discusses her experience at Media Arts and life as a student in her hometown, along with some career advice to those seeking a new direction. 
Can you describe your educational background, what are your previous qualifications? 
 Straight after high school at Hamilton Girls’ High, I moved to Wellington where I completed a Bachelor of Science majoring in Psychology with a minor in English Literature at Victoria University. I had intended to study post-graduate Psychology too.
Can you tell us about what you are studying at the moment, what attracted you to this course?
 I’m studying the National Diploma of Journalism with Wintec, which is a one-year course full of practical and relevant experience. 
Before that, I was pretty chuffed to score a dull but (relatively) well-paid job at a bank. But despite being surrounded by a bunch of cool colleagues I ended up utterly miserable there. It was a bit of a dead-end job and I wanted a career. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but knew that I wanted it to involve writing because it’s what I love to do. I started fantasizing about a career in journalism and the more I thought about it, the more impossible it became not to do just go ahead and do it. My family lives in Hamilton so I just googled Hamilton courses, applied and taa-da!


After living in Wellington for four years, you have moved back to Hamilton to live, has this been a good move? Can you tell us why?
 It has been an incredible move and I’m back in my hometown which is awesome. I’ve moved back in with my Mum so I’m very lucky there.  Quitting my job and studying journalism is probably one of the best decisions I’ve made. Even though I’m studying, I already feel like a journalist and I feel like I’m finally doing something that gets me excited week to week. The course is so practical, dynamic and you get to meet a lot of interesting people!  It’s been an exciting taste of what a career in journalism would be like. It’s such a cliché but seriously – life is too short. Do something that pushes your buttons. 

It’s such a cliché but seriously – life is too short. Do something that pushes your buttons.

You are midway through your diploma, can you describe Media Art’s approach to teaching and learning? How has it worked for you and your learning style? 
 I love, love, love Media Art’s teaching style. At Uni, it was a lot of theoretical stuff, a lot of essay writing and exams. Here, I already feel like what I’m studying to be, I already feel like a journalist.  It’s very practical and everything is designed to introduce you to the career that you want. The teachers are genuinely determined to help you be the best you can be and they help you with your individual goals, rather than just ticking off general course requirements. And our entire class is so supportive of one another, we all just want to see each other do well.
Also – it doesn’t feel like we’re just being taught to be standard journalists. We’re being taught to be top-notch, five-star, ace journalists. It has been challenging…but worthwhile things need to be challenging!  To be honest- I would say I’ve been challenged more in these last four months than in my entire three-year university degree. 
Can you tell us your most enjoyable experience on the course so far?
 Hmmm that’s a hard one. I really enjoyed profiling this inspiring volunteer as one of our course assignments. She was just such a quality human being and it felt like a privilege to write about someone like that. It was also a standout because it taught me that literally everyone has a story and my job needs to be to dig up the ones worth telling.
Ruby interviews artist Nell about her exhibition for the upcoming Spark Festival
Is it true that your grandfather collects clippings of all your published articles?
 Yes. I hadn’t got my hands on any copies of my published stories at one stage, although Gramps had mentioned that he had seen them in the paper. He was in the hospital a few weeks ago and I was in his room picking up clothes for him when I stumbled across this noticeboard in there covered in a bunch of clippings of my articles! It was a warm fuzzy moment.
Can you describe how it feels to have your work published given that you are still learning your craft? Does this help you develop your skills faster, does is keep you more engaged? 
It gives you such a high to see your own stories on a news site or in the paper.  It’s also very encouraging and it’s way easier to stay engaged when I know there’s a chance that my course work could make it to a bigger platform. It does mean there’s some extra pressure on the quality and standard of reporting which of course, can’t be a bad thing. Working to an actual publishable standard half the year in (although credit where it’s due, we’re lucky to have supportive editors at Wintec that talk us through any screw ups) emboldens me. It gives me confidence that I’m chasing a career that I could do well in if I put in the hard yards.  

Also – it doesn’t feel like we’re just being taught to be standard journalists. We’re being taught to be top-notch, five-star, ace journalists.

Where do you hope to be 2-3 years from now?
Studying psychology has left me with some interest in health so I’d love to score a job specialising in health reporting. I’d also love to be a feature writer. Long term I hope to be an “in-demand” freelance feature writer with jobs coming out of my ears!
Finally, can you describe the culture at Media Arts using five keywords:

Stimulating, challenging, supportive, dynamic, inspiring

Big thanks to Ruby Nyika for meeting with us and giving us such honest and inspiring responses. Follow Ruby on Twitter and read her stories on our Media Arts student newspaper The Waikato Independent.
If you are like Ruby and already have a degree and you’re wondering what’s next, view our one-year graduate diploma options here.