Clare Stephenson tells us about her time at the College and what she's doing now
Clare studied A levels in Enlish, Media Studies and Psychology and came to the College from The Beaconsfield School.
"I had the option to stay on and do sixth form at The Beaconsfield School, but I knew I wanted to move to Henley for my final two years, mainly because of the independence I knew it would give me.
When I went to the open day, it was the ‘grown up’ feel and sense of freedom that I didn’t get at Beaconsfield. I knew it was a good in-between step from school and would prepare me for university. I was also able to meet all my teachers during the open day and they instantly made me feel very motivated and excited about the courses. It was also just a great chance of scenery that I was craving
I definitely enjoyed the freedom the College gave me. I’ve always had a very self-motivating and disciplined personality when it comes to work, so being able to have that sense of independence made me work better and harder as I felt more in control of what I was doing.
I love writing and researching so English was the perfect subject for me. So many of the units were fascinating (especially the child language development unit) but being able to write about a topic that I loved and found interesting for my coursework was definitely one of the highlights.
I want to become a feature writer rather than a hard core journalist so that I can spend time on building up a story and interview as many people as possible, so to go through the whole process when writing my coursework (including the research!) was definitely a highlight for me.
All in all Psychology was just fascinating. I won’t lie, the work load was hard and at points felt nearly impossible when it came to remembering all the content, facts and stats, and studies for exams. But the course in itself was really interesting. Most of it I still remember today!
I’ve always had a big creative flair, which is one of the main reasons why I wanted to start a career in magazine journalism. In my first year of studying Media, we had to create our own concept for a music magazine including creating a cover and double page spread. We had to take the images, come up with the aesthetic of the magazine and do the interview. It was my first ever experience in doing what I love to do today. I’d like to think it had a big influence on my passion and love for magazines now.
The teachers supported me massively through my studies at Henley. I remember days where I would stay back for thirty minutes, sometimes an hour, after lessons to go over my coursework or the subjects I didn’t understand. Especially in English and Psychology, I knew that whenever I needed extra help or support I would always be able to get it; and get support that would always leave me feeling better or more understood when I left. Even when it came to applying for universities and writing my personal statement, the teachers were all so helpful and took the time to perfect it with me.
I also spent a lot of time in the library. The facilities were great and the staff there were always so helpful and went the extra mile to help with whatever you needed.
I also had a few sessions with a career councillor which was really beneficial when it came to figuring out the universities I wanted to apply to, as well as helping me in securing work placements, etc.
The group of friends I have now, which I know will be friends for life, I met at Henley. Every day was so much fun being around them. Whether we were in class together, chilling in the canteen during free periods or going into town, I built some really strong friendships there. We’ve all gone off on different paths; some of us have gone to university, some have started businesses or have jobs now, but I think it was being at The Henley College that really built my friendship with them.
The best qualities that going to Henley taught me were confidence and independence. All the teachers were so amazing but ultimately at the end of the day it comes down to you to make sure you revise and get your work done on time. Having to manage myself at college, when it comes to work load but also balancing my social life, really set me up for a successful and productive university life. In ways, it trained me with the skills I needed for higher education that I don’t think carrying on at a sixth form would have given me.
After leaving The Henley College I went on to do a BA in Multimedia Journalism at Bournemouth University. I knew I wanted to study Journalism but my original plans were to focus on broadcasting and audio Journalism.
I am currently the Editorial Assistant and Beauty Journalist Intern for a London based fashion magazine named Voir Fashion. As an Editorial Assistant I do everything from managing photoshoots, deciding what content gets put up onto the site and speaking to PR and management companies to secure interviews, to booking train tickets and putting together tables. You really get a mix of all aspects of the industry. People always ask me if its like The Devil Wears Prada- it’s really not. As a journalist I also get to write up content for the website and interview everyone from celebrities, to professionals to major girl bosses.
My greatest achievement since leaving College has definitely been the internship I am currently undertaking right now. While university was incredible, and I have met so many new friends, made loads of memories and have been able to learn so much about the Journalism industry and grow my confidence and capabilities as a result, the experiences I’ve had on this internship have been invaluable. It’s made it crystal clear to me that this is the career I want.
I’ve been able to interview some really big names such as; Conna Walker (founder of House of CB), Rea Ann Silva (founder of the Beautyblender) and have met some really inspiring artists as the production manager at photoshoots. I also recently helped to put together Issue 26 of Voir Fashion right from scratch which was amazing to see the process and be really involved with it.
University was amazing for learning the technical side to the industry (and of course the nights out) but doing my internship has given me real hands on experience and has equipped me with the skills to know that right now, if I wanted to, I could go out into the real world of Journalism and hopefully be not to too bad!
I’d 100% definitely recommend The Henley College as it gives you a good perspective on what life may be like going into higher education or even just on life after education. The College gives you the freedom to make your own decisions and be independent about your education but also has amazing and inspirational staff to support you when needed. The location is amazing and I’ve been able to meet some amazing friends, and friends for life, because of it.