Tips of the Trade: Work Experience

Press Gazette asks top journalists what work experience people have to do to impress them.

Denise Chevin, editor, Housing Today

We have a lot of aspiring journalists doing work experience at the Builder Group.

I see it as a talent-spotting exercise and if people are good they can land freelance commissions or jobs. I’m always impressed if people have made an effort to get hold of a copy of the magazine before they turn up and have some idea of who we are and the subjects we cover. You should be eager to get stuck in and want to get by-lines.

Advice: Be confident enough to put your hand up to do stories and be keen to stick around, rather than disappear at five o’clock.

Andy Sherwood, editor,

You should be passionate about journalism. We want someone who is eager to learn a few things and, ideally, someone who’ll make the tea without moaning. When I started in journalism I spent two weeks at 90 Minutes sorting out their picture cupboard, but after that they let me write something.

Advice: Do as much work experience as you possibly can, at a variety of different companies. If you persevere and put up with the crap then opportunities will arise.

Charlotte Northedge, feature writer, Cosmopolitan

Work experience candidates need to be very adaptable. Ideally we look for someone who already has experience of working under pressure, but it’s even more important that you’re eager and know how to use your initiative.

Advice: If you really want to make an impression you have to go that extra mile. If you can do things without being asked you’ll make someone else’s job a little bit easier. When a position comes up on the team they’ll remember how helpful you were.

Michael Hann, editor, The Guardian’s Editor section

You’ve got to put some personality into it. Not too much though, I don’t want the next Woodward or Bernstein for two weeks – or, worse, the next Bernie Winters – just someone with some common sense and a bit of initiative. Advice: Is to be alert, be attentive, be interested, and don’t be disappointed if you are not writing G2 covers by the end of the fortnight.

Andy Evans, news editor, BBC Radio Leeds

You need to have an interest in journalism – it’s amazing how many people who come here and are just not tuned in. You should also do a bit of research; find out who our audience is, listen to the output and be familiar with the type of stories we cover.

Advice: Don’t come here and expect us to do all the work – come armed with a few ideas of your own. You also need to be enthusiastic, but there can be a fine line between enthusiasm and being pushy.

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