“What are your plans for after Uni?” It’s the question students dread and for those in final year, including myself, it’s easy to lose count of how many times it pops up. Post-Easter holidays and with Revision Week and exams looming, it’s time to think about what to do over the three-month Summer Holiday fast approaching.
Here’s my experiences of the journalism path I chose last summer and some helpful tips:
The Application Process
During my second year at Liverpool I joined The Sphinx, found I loved writing articles about fashion and beauty and swiftly moved on to become editor of this section! When planning my summer, I decided it was time to challenge myself and develop my journalistic skills. As an English student, writing is something I know well, but I thought working in London for different magazines under bigger publishers would be pushing myself further, and something great to do in preparation for future job applications.
I applied to various magazines under different publishers shortly before the Easter Holidays (don’t worry, you still have time as many places take a while to get back to you!) through emailing cover letters and attaching my CV. I was so nervous to do this however if you research the magazines thoroughly, have writing experience and show some enthusiasm, you’ll be fine! Then there’s the waiting process… this is the worst part but you’ll always get something. Luckily, through perseverance and many phone calls, I managed to get an email address for The Sunday Times supplement, Style, a magazine I’d religiously always read. A lot of bigger publishers, such as News UK, won’t simply have email addresses available for work experience hopefuls: be prepared to ring up and go through the ordeal that is the switchboard!
They got back to me straight away and offered me two weeks in August, which was perfect! However, with three months at home, two weeks working wasn’t enough so I decided to keep trying. Another day sending off cover letters in the library meant I secured placements at Drapers and Red magazines in June and July. It took a lot of work, but the time and effort was well worth it!
It’s always daunting being the newbie in the office, especially when you’re that desperate student in need of ‘real world’ experience, however across the magazines everyone was very friendly and always happy to help. One of the most important things I learnt is that being inquisitive is a great attribute; asking questions shows interest and determination! I undertook many different tasks which are hard to narrow down because of their variation, but transcribing an interview with American actress Liv Tyler for the Red September Issue is one I’ll always remember. The recorded interview was an hour long and it ended up being 10,000 words – the equivalent of a dissertation!
Quite often other interns and I also sorted through clothing, accessories and beauty products in the Fashion Cupboard as well. Getting to wear a Gucci coat and Christian Louboutin was a lot of fun, but sadly they were being used for a shoot and I later had to pack them away. Sorting through stock in the Fashion Cupboard was gruelling at times (the designer labels wear off eventually), but the free make-up at the end made it worth it. By the time summer was over, I was completely stocked up with enough make-up for my entire third year at Uni; once make-up has been opened, tried and reviewed, it can’t be returned, so often as a thank you present at the end of your placement, you can grab as much as you want!
I also worked on digital content, suggesting relevant ideas for social media posts and sharing articles from other magazines under the same publisher. It was intimidating at first, but I was later asked to ring independent boutiques and gather sales information, which I later reported in an article. Never in a million years did I think this would be published, but a quick Google of my name and the magazine, and there it was! It just goes to show that just two weeks at a magazine will give you big steps towards building a portfolio and adding numerous skills to your CV.
Top Tips for Journalism Internships:
- Perseverance – You can never send off too many applications or contact too many people. Ring up the publishers for emails if you have to! They don’t want an influx of students applying, so often you have to nag them.
- Expect hiccups – Things don’t always run smoothly; be prepared for boring tasks before the fun ones. Filing for a whole day may feel dull, but it’s well worth it if you get to do exciting tasks after! I also had to do the Starbucks run in the mornings (very Devil Wears Prada, I know) but it soon simply became part of the intern-routine and soon enough I knew everyone’s orders like the back of my hand!
- Enthusiasm – You can never ask too many questions: don’t ask, don’t get!
- Creativity – Always come prepared with some relevant article ideas. Quite often you might be asked to pitch an idea for something to write.
- Confidence – Easier said than done, but it’s great to get chatting with other office workers, even if it’s just general questions asking if anyone needs a hand with anything. Networking was one of the most important things I learnt because a lot of the time, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know!
- Be open-minded – Originally, I only wanted work at fashion magazines, however Vogue and Elle are incredibly hard to get, so be prepared to compromise! Often, you learn more from working at sections you didn’t intend to be on; I ended up really enjoying coming up with ideas for the Travel and Food & Drink sections!
- Show appreciation – Journalism internships don’t tend to be paid. This is because these magazines are doing you a favour by letting you work for them, allowing you to then build your CV and portfolio. It’s a great idea to leave your line-manager a ‘Thank You’ card; countless amounts of students come in-and-out over summer, and you want them to remember you!
Feature Image: http://theconversation.com/ethical-journalism-what-to-do-and-not-to-do-with-leaked-emails-79211