Please tell us about yourself
GCU (Glasgow Caledonian University) Multimedia Journalism student Sophie Thirkell catches up with Sahil on campus to hear more about his successful career after graduation.
Sahil Jaidka is sat comfortably in the University television suite in front of intimidating cameras and bright studio lights beaming down on him. The BA (Hons) Multimedia Journalism graduate now works behind the scenes as a multi-platform chief sub-editor for Sky Sports News in London. As a journalism student, I must ask him for his advice.
He takes a breath to share all but suddenly – BRRRING – the shrill ring of the fire alarm rudely interrupts him.
The interview continues when we return inside the building and sit back down. Sahil has returned to the land of the celts to supervise a practical television day as a guest lecturer. Calling everyone in the contact book for interviews, hauling big cameras around and sprinting down the corridor to broadcast on time are things he remembers fondly.
How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and exciting career?
“I remember when I was a student, days like this were the most fun and enjoyable because it was our chance to put everything we’ve learned into practice and be journalists.
“There were times when we would come in at 8am and not leave until 8pm… a sign of what was to come I guess! But it was great and brought our whole class together so it’s fun coming in now and talking to the students to give any tips I can.”
Sahil grew up in Jordanhill and has always loved sports. His first taste of journalism was at the Daily Record thanks to his dad who encouraged him to do his high school work experience placement there.
A week at the newspaper opened his eyes and he went round news, features, sport, pictures then back to sport again, of course. When he decided to apply to Glasgow Caledonian University, he was already one step ahead.
Interviewers heard how, in ten years’ time, he saw himself working for Sky Sports News. What may have seemed like an ambitious dream back then is now a reality.
How was the experience at GCU?
“It is because of my time at GCU that I am where I am now. I was told from day one to grab every opportunity and never pigeon hole yourself, never say you just want to write for newspapers or only be a TV presenter.
“I liked the way the course was set up and how you would get to experience working across broadcast, online and print and the lecturers have contacts and experience in each of those fields too. Plus, you could gain your NCTJ and BCTJ certificates, so I was glad I got in.”
Sahil counts himself fortunate for being in a class that really bonded and they still take time out of their busy schedules to meet up or go on holidays together, years after graduating. As he says: “A lot of it comes down to who your fellow students are. Working in a team and getting on with different people really sets you up for entering the industry and I did that whilst making friends for life.”
Along with the likes of Capital FM’s Amy Irons and Radio Clyde’s Colin Stone, they took their own initiative to create a show called Caley Chat during their studies. Videos of interviews with musicians, to advice on exams popped up on YouTube and garnered thousands of views.
He didn’t stop there though for he was also the sports editor for the student magazine, The EDIT, where he got to sharpen his writing skills. He also mentored younger students with current Cultural Activities Coordinator Stuart Martin.
Lecturers noticed Sahil’s hard work and talent so told him about a potential work experience placement at Clyde and Forth Media. He applied and later went on to become full-time sports editor before graduating.
“Lecturers on the course have got so many contacts, they help open doors for you and that’s how things started off for me.”
Tell us about your career path
Sahil never lost sight of his initial ambition and applied to a month long work placement at Sky and hasn’t left since. Highlights include bringing in a world exclusive by securing Jose Mourinho’s first TV interview since leaving his position as Chelsea manager.
Others including being the lead producer in Leicester the day they won the Premier League, to running Sky’s Wimbledon coverage across all platforms and also securing the broadcaster world exclusive access to Great Britain’s Davis Cup team the day after they won the final in Brussels for the first time in 89 years.
What do you do?
“Going into Sky Studios and calling it ‘work’ is amazing. Every single day is varied and there’s nothing like the thrill of covering the biggest breaking stories or being out on location getting the best out of a story. Be it producing and overseeing output across TV, social media and online or presenting on Facebook, I’m doing it thanks to my four years at GCU.”
His family and friends in Scotland are proud of his success but still one question remains: “Literally every time I come home, people say, ‘when are we going to see you on TV?’ Let’s just say I’ll let Jim White keep his seat and continue enjoying doing what I’m doing.”
Your advice to students?
As for his advice, he recalls spotting journalist Graeme Spiers on the street whilst still a student at GCU. Although star struck, he had the guts to approach him and introduce himself as a budding sports journalist. They exchanged emails and have kept in touch ever since which has helped give Sahil guidance and direction.
To put it quite simply: “Take every opportunity you can.”