An Unforgettable Experience – My Day as a Reporter at the AIB Future Sparks Festival
BY FATIMA KHALID
Imagine a 164cm teenage girl and intractable, black hair awkwardly gaping at her archetypal MacBook Pro. That was me on March 15th. I had won the opportunity to help AIB as a Roving Reporter at their Future Sparks Festival. I still remember the mixture of delirium and sudden disquietude that washed itself over me as I realised I would have the chance to briefly live out my dream as a journalist at an event that would not only let the students who attended grow intellectually but me also, as someone who would like to succeed in the reporting and media field.
On March 22nd after sleeping in the opulent comfort of the hotel room AIB had provided for me, I arrived at the RDS, euphoria bubbling in my chest. The hall itself was absolutely animated, mulitcoloured, juxtaposed lights illuminated themselves against the sleek white walls and a dark stage was enlivened by LED screens above, making for an incredibly aesthetically pleasing scene.
After being escorted by an incredibly sweet woman to the AIB set up, I had the chance to strike up a conversation with the sanguine guy rocking a brown jacket that had entered the building minutes after I did. Brian – the face of the Roving Reporters – was a fifth year with an incredible amount of experience in media. He was our good-natured interviewer for the day, proved to be made for the entertainment sector and helped me boost my confidence throughout the day. The third member of our team was Ross – a film prodigy AIB managed to grab for the event, he absolutely killed at working with the camera and creating video edits for the event and was kind enough to help me take some polaroids during the event. Admittedly, as a third year, I was somewhat anxious I’d be isolated as the youngest, but that fear was quickly washed away by the many laughs we had as we scurried to interview each and every celebrity in sight.
The festival itself had many diverse activities and stages for students. A memorable stage I remember is the talk given by those representing music and radio, including Mark Prendergast and Soule, who discussed their journeys to success and how they dealt with stress and self-doubt during those times. It was wonderful to hear stories that hit home – especially from people whose names are usually present on your Spotify playlist – because it gave a lot of us, as an audience of young, overly anxious members of the next working generation, a sense of hope, and evoked pleasant dreams within us once again – dreams that have often been drained from our hearts as a result of self-depreciation.
In my opinion, I believe if anyone was debating whether or not to attend AIB’s Future Sparks Festival, the career guidance counsellors and speakers are a guarantee that you’ll be inspired in some way by this event, especially if you’re part of the majority of students that have no idea where to go after Leaving Certificate. Hearing the stories of big names from different career fields that I wouldn’t have dreamed of seeing in person really opened my eyes and I realised that no matter how big your dreams are or how hard the work is to pursue them, it’s all worth it if you get to awaken ingenuity in others, which is exactly what this event did. Had I not been busy with interviews, photo sessions and entering their Summer of Music competition (which, trust me, you will regret not entering when you find out what the prizes are), I would’ve sat in front of the stage all day to hear more galvanizing words from the many speakers that AIB cleverly gathered. This event was certainly no cliché “let the youth walk around all day” occasion; with its career assistance and inspiring talks, it really did work its magic to create future sparks.
AIB did an outstanding job at inviting the most inspirational names in media, creativity, business, technology, as well as rising stars in music and sport, the speakers on stage ranging from Donal Burke to Mark Prendergast. Businesses such as Canon and Samsung displayed various information stalls and awesome innovations such as a digital graffiti wall and a 4D rollercoaster machine that students adored exploring. The highlight of my day was certainly Booka Brass Band’s heart-thumping concluding performance. Students crowded around the stage whilst dancing, cheering and reminiscing about the day.
By the end, I was exhausted but proud. I was proud of myself, Brian and Ross. I remember a large group of the AIB team asking for a group photo as people began to tuck away the debris of the day. I was proud of them too. This entire experience had tugged my heart strings in the right direction, confirming my dream of becoming a prominent name in the journalism field. I realised that the interviews you see online take a lot of writing, brainstorming and even running. I’ll definitely appreciate the work of those reporters on TV more often now. But I realised that all of the hassle is worth it once you see the end result. For me, I had not only gained experience in journalism with one of Ireland’s biggest banks, but I had also made many new friends and memories to share in the future and will perhaps even go on to help spark the dreams of others.