Regardless of what kind of career you set your heart on, when you first decide to take the leap towards finding relevant work experience the whole process can be a bit daunting. Where do you start? Where do you look? Do you know anyone with links to the industry? Who do you ask for help?
When Caroline wrote her post last week about considering moving to London to get a job in journalism, my ears perked up. Do all roads lead to London when it comes to getting a break in journalism? Personally, I don’t think so.
Caroline wants to be a political journalist, so it makes sense that she looks for jobs in the vicinity of Westminster. If you are based in Scotland, you may want to look towards Holyrood for work experience relevant to political journalism. If you live in a tiny village as I did growing up, you might want to look slightly closer to home – your local town hall meetings or your local council, for example. Any experience that gives you the chance to report on events as they happen (however small) will set you apart from other applicants when it comes to journalism-related job interviews.
Local newspapers are always a good place to start looking for work experience. Apply to one in your area and you will be able to hit the ground running with a solid knowledge of your specified patch. If you apply and don’t receive a response, keep trying. You may feel like you are being a pest, but you won’t be. Imagine the person you are applying to has the most cluttered desk ever. It’s perfectly acceptable to write a letter or send off and email and then follow that up with a phonecall a week later if you haven’t heard anything. Don’t be afraid to show your initiative.
Your local authority may have a community magazine that you could contribute to. This sort of work experience probably won’t give you experience in a newsroom setting as such; however, local publications such as this offer you the chance to find a comfortable writing style and utilise your local knowledge by providing information, events listings, and features relevant to people in your area. It’s all about understanding your target audience. If you can cut your teeth in a local newspaper/magazine setting and recognise the importance of knowing what your target audience wants, then you will be well equipped to move onwards and upwards in your journalism/media career.
If you want to gain experience on the broadcast side of things, why not try your hand at hospital radio? There may also be community radio stations in your area. The general rule is: the smaller the publication/radio station, the tighter the team and the more you get out of your experience as an intern.
And finally: it can be just as much about who you know as what you know. The contacts you make on work experience placements will be invaluable to you when you move on to work elsewhere or if you decide to apply for undergraduate, postgraduate, or training courses. Make a good impression and you will never be short of references.
Image on the homepage courtesy of SOLSTICE CETL.
Are you currently looking for work experience? Where are you looking for work? Share your trials and tribulations in the comments section below or tweet us @wannabehacks.
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After finishing my stint in student media, I couldn’t help but look