After Kent: Bill Bowkett

Bill Bowkett began his degree in Politics at the University of Kent with a clear goal in mind: to break into Fleet Street.

Having graduated from Kent in 2020 Bowkett now works as news editor at The Mail+, the Daily Mail’s premium digital subscription service. We asked him about his journey.   

Did you always know what you wanted to do?   

Aside from becoming an astronaut or an actor, absolutely! From a young age, I knew I wanted to be a journalist because it allowed me to express myself in a way I couldn’t through spoken word. My favourite subject in school was English Literature. I loved learning about William Shakespeare and poetry. On weekends, I would visit my grandparents and read the nationals with them. When I was 13, I joined the student magazine and later became editor-in-chief. I created podcasts on Soundcloud, interviewing teachers and celebrities, and had articles republished in the local press. In 2017, I was awarded ‘Most Outstanding Student’ at the Shine School Media Awards.

So why did you choose to study Politics at Kent?  

I chose the University of Kent because it had a high student satisfaction rating. Politics is a living, breathing subject, which teaches you to think critically. As I hoped, the course helped me understand the various actors and ideologies shaping our world. In my spare time, I edited the campus newspaper InQuire which was ‘Highly Commended’ for Best Publication at the 2019 SPA National Awards and BBC Radio 4 Today Programme Student Journalism Awards.

What path did you take after your undergraduate?  

After leaving Kent, I studied for a master’s degree in Newspaper Journalism at City, University of London. The course covered everything from media law and video editing to Teeline shorthand. I received a bursary from the Stationers’ Foundation to pay for equipment and travel to campus which was helpful.

How did you ‘catch a break’?  

I was already pitching articles to various publications and had my first national byline in the Daily Telegraph in 2019. I also took up other opportunities, such as a parliamentary internship with Conservative MP Sir Oliver Heald in the summer of 2018, and as a researcher for my lecturer Professor Matthew Goodwin on his book Values, Voice and Virtue: The New British Politics and research paper Is Academic Freedom Under Threat? I successfully applied to the Mail’s graduate scheme in 2022, having been rejected in 2021.

Can you tell us about some of the stand-out moments?   

I spent five incredible months at the Scottish Daily Mail, where I got to work in the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh and earned my first splash. Attending the Conservative and Labour Party conferences are certainly career highlights of mine. Appearing as a guest on GB News with Eamon Holmes and Isabel Webster was also an amazing experience.

What advice would you have for anyone with a similar ambition?   

Get writing! Whether it is for a student publication or a blog, employers love to see applicants who are committed and can balance extracurricular activities alongside their studies. Show editors that you are passionate about journalism and have a solid general knowledge of current affairs. And never feel afraid to ask senior reporters for a coffee or work experience. There is a common industry saying that ‘it is not what you know, but who you know’. So, start building up those contacts.

How formative was your degree in getting you to where you wanted to be?   

With my modules constantly changing and the moderators regularly updating their teaching methods to meet the changing landscape, I was able to learn something new every day. Furthermore, the degree gave me a greater understanding of the role journalists play in civil society. Key to the health of democracies, they give a platform to those whose stories deserve telling, while keeping a check on, and holding to account, those who occupy some of the most powerful positions. Without my three years at Kent, I don’t think I would be where I am today.

You can follow Bill’s adventures in Fleet Street on his Twitter account