Chayya Syal studied English Literature at the University of Reading and graduated in 2013. She is now a writer, broadcast journalist and consultant, and has worked for the BBC Asian Network and The Asian Today newspaper.
In 2016, she was presented with a Women of the Future media award and at the age of 25 in 2017, she was included in the Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe list of influential media figures.
Check out the blog she runs: Avid Scribbler.
Increasing skillsets through extra-curricular activities
While Chayya was studying at Reading, she became involved in writing for the university newspaper. This gave her confidence in honing her craft and gave her an idea of what a potential career in journalism could entail.
She learned invaluable skills in putting together articles, experiencing working life, and gained editorial knowledge, all of which has helped her in her career.
"I got to know other students who were studying different degrees, made contacts with external local newspapers. I got a much clearer understanding as to what was going on around me on campus, in Reading, and how external decisions impacted university students."
"A huge bonus about getting involved with student-led media is that I learnt a lot of practical, hands on skills which have put me at a distinct advantage over candidates who don't have that practical experience."
"I also kept every single article I ever wrote and put it in my portfolio - it's a brilliant, physical thing for me to carry into job interviews because it shows my progression from print to broadcast and digital."
Making HER dream career a reality
Working as a journalist, Chayya finds it difficult to pinpoint the best part of her career because there's so much she loves about her job.
"One of the best things about my job is the breadth of people I meet and the diverse range of opportunities which come my way."
"I'm just so happy and humbled that my ambition to become a journalist has become a reality - I overcame a lot of adversity to get here which is why my career means so much to me."
Proving that learning doesn't end when you graduate, Chayya is continuing to develop herself in journalism by adding extra skills to her CV. Chayya is currently working on the BBC Coding Journalism Pilot Project for the Digital Pilots and Skills. Here, she is learning how to code.
"It's a skill that more and more journalists, and people in general, will need to learn because of the influence that technology is having on our everyday lives and services."
Developing a 'growth' mindset Chayya has learned how to continue to grow throughout her career, and how to keep your confidence in the face of setbacks. Her advice to anyone thinking about studying English at university is:
"Strive for excellence, not perfection."
"Take every opportunity which comes your way as an opportunity to grow, be better than you were yesterday and don't turn it down. Develop a growth mindset, allow yourself space to thrive and don't let setbacks, other people or failures discourage you or dent your confidence. English is a degree which equips you with a universal skill set because it is all about communication - you can go into any field afterwards."
She describes her time studying English Literature at Reading as "one of the best times of my life so far". Chayya encourages prospective students of Literature to check out Reading.
"The Department is full of staff who are extremely knowledgeable, supportive and want their students to succeed."