Matty Davies my Masterclass with Simon Heffer

Opportunity: Defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “A time or set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something” opportunity plays a huge part in the progression and development of all of our lives. Without it there would be no way for us to grow and thrive as individuals, our own pathways to success would be blocked and aspiring talent would never be given that chance it needs to truly shine. My trip to London to meet Simon Heffer got me thinking a lot about opportunity, why we have to grasp every chance we’re given, and that it’s not a problem being the small fish in a big pond.
So what kicked this all off? Well earlier in the year The Stationers held their annual Shine Media Awards which recognises young talent from across the UK in Journalism, Publishing, Design and Photography. At the awards one category had four winners. This category was for “Young Journalists Showing Exceptional Talent” and each winner was awarded with a one-to-one masterclass with Simon Heffer, Telegraph and Daily Mail journalist. I was one of those lucky winners. What had once been just a brief discussion with the TERM magazine team about entering a competition we’d heard about online, turned into numerous successes for our magazine at the awards. A huge amount of networking with professionals in the industry, a large amount of excitement at the idea of winning such a fantastic prize and finally a trip across the country landing me on the front steps of Stationers Hall just a few months on from the awards. Filled with the anticipation of meeting one of the UK’s most highly recognised journalists, I made my way into the venue.
After a brief chat with Anneliese from Shine it was time for me to go for my meeting. This was my opportunity to gain inside knowledge and advice from an industry professional – someone who was kind enough to lend an ear to listen to my situation and knowledgeable enough to advise me on my future. The hour flew by. Before I knew it my time slot had finished and it was time for me to go. During the meeting we talked about everything from university courses and gap years to the stock market and public speaking. We read through one of my articles and I picked up some pointers from Simon on things to remember when crafting a piece of writing.
The masterclass was invaluable, Simon was so helpful and I learnt an awful lot. Three things became particularly prominent in my mind afterwards. My eyes were opened up to just how huge the working world is and how beneficial networking can be. I’m going from being a big fish in a small pond at school to being one of smallest fish in a huge pond out in the world of work. But that’s okay because small fish aren’t expected to be the best yet, they need time to grow. I learnt it’s important for us all to look at the bigger picture, not to look inwards to a career but outwards to all of our possible options. And finally I learnt that you have to take every opportunity that arises. When applying for Shine I had no idea how far it would bring me and if I had decided not to bother with my application then my whole university route would be different now and so I am truly thankful for all the help I’ve been given, and extremely pleased I entered the competition. If you’re in a room with 100 people and they are all willing to help you out, speak to all 100 of them. If you only speak to 99 you may miss the chance of a lifetime. If an opportunity arises and you’re intimidated by it remember the only way you can expand your comfort zone is to you step out of it. Finally if you are a tiny fish in huge pond, do not panic; just always swim as fast as you possibly can.
Matty Davies and Simon Heffer(1) 26.10.15

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