BA History and Politics - Chris Teale
Years at UEA
2010-2013 (graduated 2013)
Smart Cities Reporter at Industry Dive, Washington DC
Previous roles: Reporter at Alexandria Times, reporter at Bleacher report.
Chris has worked as a reporter since leaving UEA in 2013.
He moved to America shortly after graduation, working as an intern with the DC United football team. Since then, he’s worked both freelance and full-time, writing for publications such as Bleacher Report.
We talked to Chris about how his course - and his experience with Concrete - shaped his future career
Tell us a little about what you do
I’m a reporter for a company called Industry Dive, based in Washington DC.
I work for the smart cities publication, where I cover how cities use technology to make people’s lives better. It can be about transit, autonomous vehicles, 5G or equity and affordable housing. I cover conferences and travel around the US. I’ve been there just over two years.
Looking back, why did you choose to study History and Politics?
I’ve always been interested in current affairs and news, so History and Politics made sense.
It fitted my interests and the way I wanted to learn as well - a lot of reading, a lot of research, and a lot of time in the library. It was pretty ideal.
What attracted you to UEA specifically?
I remember going for the visit day - it was a long drive from where we were in Oxfordshire.
We showed up there, and I remember that my parents and I were all really impressed at just how friendly everyone was, and how good the School of History was. That helped.
I had it as my insurance choice. I didn’t quite make the grade for my first choice, but I look back now and I think I’m really, really glad I went to UEA.
What interested you about your course?
I ended up doing a lot of political history.
My specialist subject in history was the diplomatic and political history of the period between 1900 and the outbreak of the First World War. It was hard work, but I ended up really enjoying it.
On the politics side, my specialist subject ended up being the role of intellectuals in shaping US foreign policy. We’d talk about Woodrow Wilson and Walt Whitman, and I ended up understanding why people thought the way they thought, and how that impacted what happened next.
I liked that it was all very self-directed. You make it what it is; I used to spend a lot of time in the library doing research. I liked the collaboration and always got the sense that academics made the time to help people out.
How did joining Concrete help build your skills as a journalist?
I knew I wanted to be in journalism from about the age of 16, and Concrete was the way to do it.
Through Concrete, I got the opportunity to cover different things, to get involved in leadership, and edit. It was absolutely the best thing I did at UEA by a significant distance.
I look back at my time at Concrete, and I see a direct line from what I did at 18-21 to where I am now, pushing 30. I also picked up a lot of skills in my degree that have proven to be very useful as a journalist, from research, to talking to different people and finding different viewpoints, and also meeting deadlines.
How did you find yourself in America after graduation?
I met a girl in first year who was studying abroad from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania.
I moved to the US right after graduation to be with her and start my career in the US. I had my dual citizenship, so it was easier for me to go over there.
I thought, “I’m going to move to America, and I’m going to figure this out one way or another”. I got lucky finding DC United; I emailed them and applied, and they saw something they liked.
Where has your career taken you since?
I went to DC United thinking this could be at least a start on the path forward.
Then I moved into freelance writing for a bit. My first full-time role was at a newspaper in Alexandria in Virginia, where we lived at the time. It was a small staff so I was doing everything, but I had a desk and my own space.
When I was in local reporting, I was most proud of covering election nights. From 2015-2017 I was out every election night in November, reporting from the field on local and national races. It’s incredibly hard work and very late nights, but you’re part of history in a sense.
Now I look at some of the work I’ve done with Smart Cities Dive, helping to grow a publication that was pretty small when I started. I’ve been able to pull out some interesting news about all kinds of strange things, and move the conversation within the smart city arena. It’s been gratifying to grow with an industry that’s still growing.
Do you have any advice for people starting out as students?
Take advantage of everything you can, particularly in the first year.
I’m glad I joined Concrete as early as I did, and stuck with it even though it was hard, because that really drove everything that I did afterwards.
It’s easy to pay a small membership fee for clubs and societies and then not turn up. But get involved with as much as possible, as you never know how it’s going to turn out.