Ande Kolcakkostendil is a TV journalist at CNN Turk, one of the biggest TV & Radio channels in Turkey. Kolcakkostendil graduated from LSE with an MSc in Political Sociology and will now tell us more about how she got into such a fabulous career.

1. What prompted you to apply for a graduate degree?

I love doing research. I was also thinking seriously about getting into academics, so Masters was a first step.

2. How highly do you think the international degree is regarded in your home country?

Very highly esteemed. Especially if you get it from a well-known school like LSE. People do not necessarily understand what I did for my graduate work - for most, a Masters from the LSE automatically means a Masters in Economics - I realized a long time ago that even the name of the school changes people's perceptions of me.

3. How did you choose which university to apply to, what were your main criteria?

How did you evaluate the university's specialization, location, ranking, student community, and other factors? I knew I wanted the school to have very high academic standards and as big a library as possible. I knew I wanted to do political science-related work so I looked for a school that is strong in that area. I also wanted to be in a big city that was not just a university town. My advisor was very helpful in directing me to the LSE - he had spent part of his life in London and was a very big fan of the city as well as the school.

4. What were the results of your applications? How did you decide which offer to accept?

I applied for four PhD programs and a Masters degree. In retrospect I see that I was not ready for a PhD and now I realise that my thesis proposals were quite weak. Circumstances made the choice for me and I think it turned out for the best. 

5. How are you financing your studies? What advice would you give other candidates when preparing for scholarship applications?

I think they really have to know what they are getting into - they should be very clear about whether graduate studies is really what they need, especially when applying for PhDs. For those who cannot imagine doing anything other than entering into the academic field, I would recommend at least one serious internship in a field that might interest them as a long term career. I never thought I would get into journalism but at the end of my internship, I realized that being an academic is not for me. When it comes to financing, I would recommend looking seriously into special scholarships - which are often more about who you are, rather than whether you deserve the scholarship. I also have friends who received financial aid from schools that match exactly with their areas of interest.

6. What are three things you liked about university life? What are the most challenging aspects?

I liked the research environment, the luxury of learning just to appease your appetite and having more time to learn than ever in your life. I like the fact that, especially in big universities, your professors or people who come for conferences will actually be decision-makers. Looking back, I wish I had made more use of that. During my studies (especially in undergrad) I thought being away from my family was the biggest challenge, but now I realize that the real challenge was staying focused - and I don't think I did a very good job with that. 

7. What skills did you acquire during your study that have helped you gain employment?

I have a very solid background as far as simply knowledge is concerned. I've learned to be a good researcher and knowing where to look is always an advantage in journalism. I've learned to ask as many questions as possible before forming an opinion and more importantly, I ask the questions that would give me meaningful results.

8. What career opportunities has your Masters provided you with in your line of work?

I am a TV journalist, both on-camera and off-camera, has no direct connection with my Masters in political sociology, therefore I cannot really say it provided opportunities but it definitely provided advantages. My employment history is limited to journalism at CNN Turk only - 1 year of internship, 2 years as a producer, and 2 years as a reporter.

9. Please describe your job and what it entails on a daily basis?

I am a reporter for CNN Turk world news desk. I work mostly in the fields of global changes, diplomacy, foreign policy - of Turkey primarily - and energy. I interview policy-makers, opinion-leaders, academics; I follow conferences; I write news items and video-edit them. I help out quite a bit with daily news coverage planning and the planning of major CNN Turk productions such as the World Economic Forum.

10. What are the highlights and the challenges of your job?

It is never static, there is constant change. It is very high-paced, very high-adrenaline. It makes it easier for me to access primary documents and background stories. I like the fact that following the developments all around the world is part of I do for a living. But there are some challenges: It sometimes gets too intense and it doesn't have much of a reward mechanism. Progress in career is never linear and you never know what is around the corner career-wise - you might be stuck doing the same thing for years or a random event might change your course forever.

11. Where do you see yourself in ten years time?

I eventually want to work for a major media outlet or press institution in the UK or the United States. Preferably for a very dynamic news show or for news-related documentaries.

12. What do you wish you'd known before you started your program?

I wish I had known I was interested in journalism - I would try very hard to get into the BBC or the Guardian for an internship.

Author's Name:  Vickie Chiu