It’s as tough as ever to get a job in a newsroom and of course there’s no denying journalism jobs are scarce.
This is why I’m flabbergasted when I receive speculative correspondence from students wanting to be journalists and they haven’t got a single newspaper cutting or example of work they’ve done to back up an application.
Not only is it difficult to break into the salaried world of work, there is no guarantee of a work experience placement due to the large number of requests. So students have to impress before they’ve even had the opportunity to walk into a newsroom.
It should go without saying that you should be suitably dressed. If you are unsure of expected work attire, give the contact you have at the newspaper a call to confirm.
What I would also hope any student would have done before their first day is research the paper and the areas it covers. Find out what you can about the current issues being addressed by the paper along with topics of general interest and know what’s making local and national headlines.
Familiarise yourself with the newspaper’s website and tablet apps. Don’t just bring ideas for print, think digital.
Make a good impression. Come armed with content you can suggest to the news editor and generate ideas during your placement – don’t just wait to be handed press releases.
Integrate and interact with staff and readers. Demonstrate confidence and initiative, make yourself useful – even answering a ringing telephone in a busy newsroom can be a huge help and will be appreciated.
The newsroom can be a daunting new environment. It’s always busy, often frantic, mostly fun.
When it’s all over, ask for references and testimonials and leave a good lasting impression. After your placement, keep in touch with newsroom staff over email, via social media, ring them with tip-offs – don’t let them forget you.
You will get out of your placement, what you put into it. Make it worth your while and enjoy.
For further information on work experience, see the NCTJ website.