‘Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ‘em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.’ – Theodore Roosevelt
Everyone bangs on about work experience, experience or getting your foot in the door and all that jazz. But it can be daunting. It can be hard! It can be expensive! I have lost track in how many magazines I have emailed and had no reply to do work experience at. But keep emailing and at some point, they reply. For my course at Nottingham Trent University, it was compulsory to have a minimum of three weeks work experience in order to pass the course. So, that definitely pushed me outside my comfort zone to do it.
When I do look at my CV or what I have had published, I am glad that we had to do work experience as I do feel a little proud at what I have been able to achieve. If I am honest, some work experience has been better than others, some more exciting, some more admin based but all in all, I have met some great people, had work published by all and had the experience of working in a busy editorial environment. Now, I have not yet got a career within journalism so I am unable to tell you whether or not this experience has benefited me into getting a better career but I am assured by other people that it does. So, fingers crossed aye.
Where have I done work experience?
Currently, I have done nine weeks of work experience.
I started off with easing myself in with one day at my local paper, The Comet. I really enjoyed this taster day and the editor was so helpful in showing me what to do, how to do this and how to do that. I even had to do a telephone interview for an event I was writing about. I did not have a Dictaphone or was able to do shorthand as at this point I was only on about 20 words per minute! I basically just scribbled down as much as I could. But all worked out fine and I had an article published in my local paper. I will not forget that little moment of first seeing my name in print! It was all very exciting. Here, I also met Richard, the editor of Hertfordshire Life Magazine, where I would undertake work experience a few months later. This shows how important networking is in the industry.
Next, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine. I can’t really remember how I applied for ST Travel? I am sure I saw an email on Twitter looking for work experience placements. Side note, #journojobs is a good tag to look at on Twitter for jobs and work experience. I did two weeks here at the London Bridge Office. It was a bit of a whirlwind the first day. I was sat at a desk and told to write! Which in a way was an excellent task as it got my work out straight away but then the following week was more fact checking and overall not a lot of work for me. So, much of the second week was asking around for any old job. This may have just been unlucky for the time I was there as it was January. Who knows.
After this, I went back to Stevenage to work at Hertfordshire Life magazine. Perfect work commute. Five minute drive or a nice 40 minute walk! There was only two people on the editorial team at Hertfordshire Life and was really lovely to be able to have that one on one experience. They also had my best interests at heart and gave me important work to do straight away. I think this definitely makes your experience, when the team are looking out for you and making sure you get the best out of your time with them. Richard, the editor, put me straight on writing book reviews and also going through ways I can develop stories, as at this time I was still learning how to be a journalist. But, nevertheless, they put me forward for trying my hand at the bigger features including interviewing celebrities and putting together my own main feature for the magazine. Amazingly, my feature I did whilst there became the cover story and I now own about 10 of that issue ha ha. Thinking back, this was actually a really valuable work experience and they even bought me Easter chocolates and I was able to work from home. Happy days!
On to my favourite place where I have done work experience – High Life magazine. If I recommend one place to do work experience it is here at Cedar Communications. High Life is the in-flight magazine for British Airways and covers so many different topics from travel to fashion to food. Their offices are on The Strand, neighbours to the Savoy hotel. I did two weeks here again and worked with the editor, Andy Morris and the editorial assistant, Melissa. Similar to Hertfordshire Life magazine, they had my best interests at heart and made sure they were making the most of me. I had lots of work daily and I was kept busy, which I find very important for my work experience. I do not want to be sat there like a lemon! I wrote features, transcribed copy, tried to come up with ideas, interviewed Roisin Murphy, went to the PR events, overall it was my highlight in my work experience journey. I attained this place by emailing Andy himself, which I was able to get hold of through a speaker who came into my university. See the saying can be true – it is not always what you know, it is who you know.
That is all my previous work experience. As you can see all my experience so far is travel related as ultimately this is the area of journalism I wish to pursue a career within.
What I have found when trying to get work experience is that basically if you don’t ask, you don’t get. You just need to keep trying and putting yourself out there. Yes, it is scary and trust me I am a nervous wreck, I would say on the first day but I am nervous wreck for the whole two weeks. My mum can vouch for that. You just want to do your best and make sure you impress them. Really just go in relaxed and take any opportunity you can. Just go for it. At the end of the day, if this is something you really want and you put all your hard work into it, it has got to pay off surely? That is what I am hoping anyway…
Other ways to get work experience… Go Think Big are a good company and have magazines such as Grazia and Hello. Fashion Workie also has lots of jobs and work experience placements. Asking your lecturers at university so they can put you in touch with anyone. Magazines themselves sometimes have email addresses online or in their print issues for interns and work experience. Just keep your eyes peeled.
I will be posting more about my work experience/magazine journalist journey such as my published work, university work, university tips and so on. So, please follow and like my blog, Instagram and Facebook. Let me know if there is anything you would want to know about if this is something you are interested in or wish to share your work experience and perhaps we can exchange contacts.