I met Amber Jackson in first year at Falmouth University. She had become the Arts Editor for the student newspaper, the Falmouth Anchor. Throughout the following year, we engaged through our work, both of us being interested in writing culture reviews and critical commentary. She is now freelancing for UK Film Review, among other culture news sites, while she gets her Master’s in Film Studies from King’s College London.
Amber studied English Literature at Exeter University (Penryn). She told me, “I wanted to pursue screenwriting, but that gradually evolved over time.” In her final year, she got into writing culture features and reviews, drawing her into journalism and leading to becoming the Arts Editor.
“I thought I knew what to do after my undergrad, but once it came to graduating, I felt like I didn’t have a clue.” Amber detailed struggling with the fear of the unknown and not knowing what to do after her graduation in 2019. “I was working in a pub whilst applying for every job I could get my hands on. In about four months, I applied to 70+ jobs.” She was also reading tv/film-oriented publications as well as ones focused on LGBTQ+ rights and issues. This helped guide her with writing her own reviews and articles in that sphere of journalism. While facing the daunting process of getting into the job market, she messaged an editor on Twitter, built a rapport with them, and started writing for a film magazine and theatre publication— unfortunately that was curtailed due to the pandemic and theatres closing down. “At the moment because of my studies, I am able to write reviews every week or two weeks.”
In that time, Amber narrowly missed out on an internship in New York— an event, in hindsight, she’s grateful for as the COVID pandemic would have seriously affected her experience. “One of the struggles I faced was the many rejection emails.” Rejections came from the many different opportunities she was going for, but she kept pressing on. In response, I asked her about the one crucial trait or characteristic needed to work as a freelancer. She replied, “patience is key because things may not happen straight away.”
Since the pandemic and during her studies, she hasn’t been able to do as much freelancing as she would like, but she’s hopeful that with the added qualifications and the work she has done, she can make a career of writing reviews and critical commentary.
The last thing I asked Amber was what final advice she could give to future graduates looking into freelancing, and she told me, “Knowing what you want can feel difficult especially when you’re applying for different jobs— if you’re not feeling completely passionate about the job, then it’s probably not the job for you.”