While studying Mass communication at Makerere University, Josephine Karungi always knew that she wanted to do print media. But her career took an interesting turn when she successfully applied for a job at NTV Uganda as a news anchor. Fast forward eight years, Josephine is a senior anchor and news producer. She also hosts a talk show, Perspective with Josephine.
With an abundance of zeal, insights and smarts in her industry, Josephine is featured on Accelerate Your Ambition today to share with use how her career has progressed throughout the years.
Many young people find the transition between university and real life daunting. What was your first job and how did you land it? What did you learn from it?
I was working while at the university. Being an evening student came in handy as it meant that I would easily balance working during day and studying at night. I worked at an advertising agency called Jazzy designs, and on weekends, at an events management company which I would say introduced me to the world of work. I learnt that it’s never too early to get your foot in. One opening serves as a door to the next.
Take us through your career path. What steps led you to where you are today?
I double both as an events manager and office administrator – which really was then a fancy word for receptionist. When i left the University, i worked with an NGO still as an office manager sitting in for a lady who was on maternity leave. A month into the job, i became the Personal assistant of the then Programmes manager and later became a project manager for one of the NGO’s many projects. A year into the job, I came across the job advert for an NTV anchor. I was among just one of the 800 people who applied so it was a long shot. The interview involved reading a news segment. I heard back from NTV after about three months. I was shortlisted with two other people and started working shortly after. Fast forward, eight years later, I am senior news anchor and news producer. I also hosts a talk show, Perspective with Josephine.It’s never too early to get your foot in. One job opening serves as a door to the next. Click To Tweet
Being a reporter is a very dynamic career. What sparked your interest in the field?
Everyone I grew up with knew that I would become a journalist. I have always been an avid reader and writer. Doing television never crossed my mind. I always thought I would be in print media writing.
How did your university degree prepare you for your current career?
I studied mass communication. I did my best to practice all the major forms of media before i left the University during my internship period so that by the time I came out, I was sure of what I wanted to focus on.
The nature of my field dictates that no day is the same. My work is not structured. You have got to learn how to go with the flow. You write, you read, you edit, you make calls, you book appointments, you go meet people, you collect information, you research, you basically do all it take to make sure that what comes out is something you’re proud of.
What are your strategies for remaining calm and focused in such a high pressure environment?
It comes with experience. The first time I went live, I was a nervous wreck. You learn that being an anchor is about having a conversation with your audience.
You also host a talk show. What advice would you give to someone who has dreams of hosting their own show?
Hosting a talk show is about telling stories. You want to create conversations that don’t take advantage of your guests. People don’t want to open up to robots, you have to relate with them. They want to talk to people who genuinely want to hear and then tell their story. It is easy to want to stick to a script when trying to get a good story but you won’t be able to connect with someone if you are fixated on your own agenda. So, if you want to host a show, learn how to genuinely connect with people.
Have you noticed any trends in broadcast journalism? Where do you think is the future of news reporting headed? What changes have you seen in the field since you started?
We are digital. Anyone who wants to work in the field needs to get comfortable with all forms of media. You need to be an all-rounder. Many media houses are downsizing. Why should they keep or even hire you? What new thing, or old but greatly needed experience do you have? As a journalist, you can’t afford to put yourself under one umbrella. Keep up with the digital trends but do not completely lose your old experience.
Most people look at your job and would think that it is so glamorous. What would people be surprised to know about it?
It’s not that fancy. There’s a lot of work behind the scenes to make what you see on TV look the way it does. Also, no matter how you feel, you have to always show up. No one wants to know about how you are feeling. They want what you promise them with no excuse.
What are some of your strategies for maintaining work/life balance?
There is no work/life balance. Well, i don’t think there is, but that’s my Perspective. You need passion because you are going to be called upon to work at any time and you have to want it badly enough to keep pushing. One thing always suffers, even a little, but sometimes, a lot. You have to be prepared for that and to be sure of what you want. You also need to know when to draw the line so that one thing doesn’t completely wither and die.
Any other advice you have for people looking to break into your field?
Practice. Make the camera your friend. Record yourself, get feedback and improve. Today, you can start creating your own shows now and put them on YouTube or on your blog. Being an anchor is not just about being pretty. Work on your brand and persist. Social media skills are also important so that people get a sense of who you are.