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How to WORK work experience

If you’re a wannabe journalist, chances are you’ll be doing a fair few work experience placements. Spending a week or two in a newspaper/magazine office is an ideal way to make editors remember you for the right reasons, making you a strong contender for future jobs, not to mention the importance of getting a great reference.

So seeing as journalism is so COMPETITIVE and there are SO MANY other people trying to make it just like you, you need to make sure you stand out from the HUNDREDS AND THOUSANDS of other work experience people.

Here are the ways to do it.


Bring value to the workplace. Yes it’s a learning experience and you will need to be taught a few things, but once you have mastered the tasks make it your mission to really impress them. Be better than the last intern; how much work can you get done in a day? Take initiative and offer your ideas: make sure they know how good you are. It’s a chance to sell yourself and prove you’ve got something to give.

Be confident

Speak up when spoken too, say hello to the big boss even if he is slightly scary. If you hear someone struggling with something that you are an expert in, go over and offer to help. And if you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help.


For that period of time, you should pretty much live and breathe the placement. Yes, you might have to get up at 6.30am every morning for two weeks and you might miss Eastenders but it’s good practice for the real world. Put that job before anything else. If you need to, have something to motivate you to look forward to at the end.


If you are going to be late or sick, ring your boss as soon as you know. People don’t get pissed off because you’re ill and can’t come in, they get pissed off because you didn’t bother to tell them and ringing in sick is far more believable when you don’t do it at 4pm. They are not going to shout; they’ll say ‘thanks for letting me know, hope you feel better soon, let me know how you are tomorrow’. Easy.

Be social

This one is really really important. No matter how hard you work, if you don’t make a positive contribution to the office atmosphere, you won’t impress.

–        Never make yourself a drink without asking anyone else if they want one and offer to help if someone is given orders from the entire office

–        Is there a big group that go for lunch together? Go with them

–        Always accept drinks after work invitations

–        Join in with banter. You are far more likely to be liked for being a bit of a div than for being the one that doesn’t speak

Keep in touch

Follow your colleagues on Twitter and reply to a tweet every now and again. You never know when knowing them might come in handy in future so make sure they remember who you are. Or even better, is there anything you could carry on doing for the company after the placement is up, perhaps a few blog entries or editing work? If you think you could help make sure they know, and don’t be afraid to ask to get paid (although if it is blog type stuff probably better to accept a byline and experience rather than money).


About Rhian Jones

I am a freelance music business journalist based in London. My career began when I saw an apprenticeship with freelance education journalist Janet Murray advertised in the Guardian. I applied, and after a gruelling two-day Alan Sugar style assessment, got the job, quit university and relocated to London to pursue my dream of a career in the media. The apprenticeship ended on a high when I secured my first journalism job at Music Week. I spent my week days writing news stories, interviewing and learning all about the fast paced nature of putting together a weekly magazine, all while gaining invaluable insight into the inner workings of the music business. After three years and a few promotions, I left my position as news editor to go freelance in 2015. Alongside two regular gigs as London correspondent for US trade rag Hits, and contributing editor for Music Business Worldwide, I've written for publications including Company, Grazia, The Sunday Telegraph, the Guardian, The Independent, Music Ally, Billboard, The Journalist and Music Teacher.

One response »

  1. Pingback: The perfect work experience application | A blagger's guide to getting into journalism

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