Taking a risk proves career-changing for DMU grad Rakeem

Quitting a well-paid job in corporate banking to study Investigative Journalism MA at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has led to a dream career for Rakeem Omar.

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Shortly after graduating this summer, the 26-year-old from Birmingham took to Twitter saying: “Around this time a year ago, I took a risk and quit my depressing yet well-paid job in corporate banking, to do a master’s degree I could only dream of.

“Two weeks ago I completed my degree. Today I started on my first documentary for television. Don’t give up on yourself.”

Rakeem’s inspirational words resonated with many, gaining 187 retweets and 849 likes.

Since then he has been working as a runner on a BBC Three documentary exploring knife crime and its devastating effects. The documentary is the brainchild of fellow DMU graduate Chanell Wallace, whose idea won the BBC Northern Docs Pitch at Sheffield Doc Fest earlier this year.

He said: “As cheesy as it sounds, every day that I am able to work in this field that I love and that I’m passionate about is a highlight. This is exactly what I want to do with my life.”

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Nowadays, Rakeem can look back at the years he spent in banking and appreciate how they contributed to his journey of self-discovery.

“They were more valuable to my purpose than I could have imagined,” he said.

“Graduating from an undergraduate degree can be scary, especially if you’re not entirely sure about what you want to do in your life or even how to get there.

“I found myself getting a job for the financial gain, with the intention of it being short-term. Despite it becoming depressing and stifling, it eventually pushed me to such a low place that it forced me to think really hard about what I wanted to do with my life.”

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Rakeem took some time to explore a number of opportunities before coming across the Investigative Journalism MA at DMU, a course developed in collaboration with Channel 4.

He said: “When I read more about it and the support that Channel 4 offers, I fell in love with it before I even applied. I never thought I would be offered an interview, let alone a place!

“I can now say that the course and my lecturers, Richard Danbury and David Hayward, have changed my life. I’ve found what I believe is a part of my purpose and if I could do it all again tomorrow I would.

“It’s not an easy course though. Even though I kept busy over the recent years gaining experience in radio, podcasting, writing and presenting, it has been the most challenging thing I have ever done.”

One of Rakeem’s most memorable DMU highlights was having the opportunity to attend an academic-led #DMUglobal trip to film a documentary in Bali. He is tight-lipped on the subject matter, as he hopes it will get commissioned as part of a bigger project.

“I’ve never seen a university offer so many experiences for its students abroad. Bali is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to in the world. It was an experience I will never, ever forget,” he said.

Posted on Tuesday 27th November 2018

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