Career Girls know that sometimes it’s about creating your own path. Grad schemes and traineeships are great, but making your own luck is another way to enter your dream job market.
Journalism is no different; one thing I have learned is that a dose of entrepreneurialism and avid opportunity-spotting can only serve you well. Having done most of my writing either in a student capacity or as a freelancer, I looked forward to experiencing the buzz of a national newsroom, during my first internship at a national paper.
On my first day, I entered the News building at London Bridge, full of nervous anticipation. But my worries (Would I like it? Will I make the right impression? Am I dressed appropriately?) were quickly swept aside when I was warmly welcomed by Colleen, the news desk secretary.
After showing me the basic ropes that morning, I was handed a research assignment simply by finding common ground with one of the reporters there, which shows the power of networking with everybody in the office. It turned out a story he was working on was partly based at the university at which I’m studying. Thus, the unfolding of a wonderfully productive and enjoyable fortnight!
My immediate impressions of the paper were how supportive the staff reporters were. Later spending two weeks at the Guardian allowed me to compare the news-making process of a weekly paper versus (my all-time favourite) daily newspaper. From the start, I was entrusted with work, either assisting reporters with research for liveblogs, using my foreign language skills, attending external events, speaking to members of the public or attending editorial meetings (my favourite part).
My highlight at the Sunday Times was being able to briefly interview shadow Chancellor, John Mcdonnell MP. He was at a meeting of the Labour Representation Committee and I was on assignment from the news editor. In that moment, I had to don my fearless hat and question him on important things like Brexit and a reformed European Union.
It was an exhilarating experience because I felt I had accomplished my assigned task, asked the right questions, and received interesting answers. Political journalism is an option which I am considering specializing in. Interacting with a high-profile figure in a journalistic way really brought me out of my shyness and confirmed that this is a career path that really excites me. As a journalist, being able to talk to anyone – at any time, is a valuable skill that interning is helping me to hone.
I was also assigned on my last day to attend the CND rally in Trafalgar Square at the end of February. I didn’t pay mind to the freezing cold or the large crowds – I just took in the atmosphere and, although what I returned with was not used in the end, I was happy that I could help and that the news editors were happy to send me out spontaneously. By the end of it, not only had I witnessed different elements of producing news stories, but I had a couple of bylines to show for it, too.
The most consistent thing I have taken from my work experience placements is that I thoroughly enjoy the atmosphere of a newsroom. I am drawn by the get-up-and-go approach, quick-thinking, and debate that goes on when the news agenda is set. Watching qualified and established journalists at work has been a great motivation. My experience opened me up to the office culture, as well as who is represented within the newsroom. I’m looking forward to graduating and seeing what the next few months hold!
If you’re on a similar path an unsure what to do, I’d highly recommend testing out as many publications as you can – even the ones you wouldn’t imagine yourself working for. Great opportunities are often buried in unexpected nooks!