How to build your network

remona Aly Project Ribcage
As the spirit of this whole project is perseverance, we couldn't find many other women who embodied this as much as Remona. As a journalist turned broadcaster turned commentator turned trusted representative, we took some hours of her precious time as she tells us about her professional career. Remona shares some gems that we have already taken and have already benefited this project. 
  If you are determined to succeed in your chosen career but have no idea where to begin or how it will pan, have a little watch of this, and see if it motivates you to send that email. See if it motivates you to network at the next event that is a bit out of your comfort zone.
  This is here to get you motivated to apply to that dream job and keep working for that dream career.   

 

Meet REmona. 


Introduction...

Because the Prophet, peace be upon him, was a model of co-existence. And we live in pluralist societies here we have to work together and actually understand each other and acknowledge each others’ differences. For me, that’s a really major part of my work, and also opening up the discourse that isn’t limited to “extremism” or “radicalisation” and “terrorism”. Because this isn’t the narrative that Muslims should be pushed into.
"...we live in pluralist societies here we have to work together and actually understand each other and acknowledge each others’ differences."

Hey, Salaam, My name is Remona Aly, and I am a free lance journalist, I focus on faith, lifestyle and identity. I write for the guardian, I’ve written for Stylist, I also work for Radio 2 and Radio 4. The first piece I ever wrote was at University for the Student magazine. I was always interested in the human condition and exploring that experience.

How Remona started writing

Eventually, I got into print journalism a few years later after I left university, I started writing for Emel magazine, which is a Muslim lifestyle magazine. From then, I was offered the position of deputy editor. I was there for three and a half years. That’s where I really got to grips with writing. I was writing all the time, I was editing, I was sub-editing, I was proofing. And I was writing about things that I never really thought about writing about. So I grew in that role and I networked like crazy. Because it was celebrating Muslim lifestyle. And celebrating lives and talking about contributions that people were making. So there were artists, there were musicians, there were educators, people who work in charities. I found that really enriching. And it helped me later on actually when I went into the mainstream and I left Emel magazine.
"..I was offered the position of deputy editor. I was there for three and a half years."

I started writing for the guardian. And my first piece was about "hijabi head bangers". Because I just wanted to talk about Muslim women who love rock music and heavy metal. And it was something that was light hearted, it was fun, but it was also about identity and lifestyle and trying to broaden the narrative around Muslims. So as a freelancer, It’s great because I can work on lots of different projects. So I also am a director of communications for a Muslim organisation called “Exploring Islam Foundation”. And the first campaign that we did was called “inspired by Muhammed” and it was launched in 2010. The take up of it was incredible. It wasn’t just national, it went global. We focused on women’s rights, social justice, and caring for the environment. These topics people don’t usually associate with Muslims and Islam. And so it was nice to raise awareness off what Muslims care about and what our values and principles are. And these were all derived from our role model Prophet Muhammed PBUH. And the coverage extended for years so it was really exciting to see the impact of such a positive PR campaign. And we were constructing our own media place.
"We focused on women’s rights, social justice, and caring for the environment. These topics people don’t usually associate with Muslims and Islam!"

The media can often be a reactionary model. There are a lot of negative headlines out there, and stereotypes and slurs around Muslims and Islam. And also just around faith generally. So for me, it is very important to open up that discussion. My vision is to write about faith in a really beautiful dynamic inclusive way. Previously it was often the men who were speaking on our behalf of our whole communities. And now women are talking about the issues that affect us. And also they are very powerful and pertinent voices and they are essential to reflect our communities.
" My vision is to write about faith in a really beautiful dynamic inclusive way."

Challenges?

One of the biggest challenges that I had to face was having to go on news night after the Charlie Hebdo massacre. So I was called just a few hours before I was meant to go on TV and asked “Can you please come and talk about the British Muslim response?” I was trying to weight up, should I go on this? and I thought the need should really out weigh the fear. It was really important to have a sane voice on there. I said that I felt a triple hurt, as a westerner as a journalist and as a Muslim.
"So I was called just a few hours before I was meant to go on TV and asked “Can you please come and talk about the British Muslim response?”"

The feedback was quite positive about that, so in the end, it worked out for the best. I’ve had to do other TV interviews as well. It’s a good thing that they are reaching out to people to speak about these issues. Because they are really sensitive and controversial issues. It’s challenging, it’s fun, it’s exciting. It’s unpredictable.

 


 

A career re-cap.

I feel like I‘ve got loads of opportunities. I think the challenges make you grow. And the opportunities are there for the taking, I love what I do, I am really passionate about what I do and the most important thing for me is connecting with other people. And if something I’ve written or something I’ve said resonates with someone int heir hearts, then I’ve won. I’m just so grateful to Allah, he’s really given me so many blessings in my life.
" I think the challenges make you grow. And the opportunities are there for the taking..."

Advice.

If I could give advice to anyone going into the media, do not be daunted. You’ve got to work with your passions and never ever give up. One of my biggest pieces of advice is networking and building relationships and building trust because the open up so many doorways. And also you have to be really confident in yourself and what you want to achieve. Read non stop, explore none stop, gro and develop and evolve all the time. And that really will help in any field that you would want to go into, particularly media

Wandering about the campaigns? Inspired by Muhammad Missing Pages Featuring on Sky News

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