In August 2011 I’d just completed my first year at Lancaster University and was in London for a work experience placement, when I came across an article in the Guardian. It was headlined:
“Read all about it! Smart boy or girl wanted as apprentice”
Janet Murray, a freelance education journalist was looking for a protégée. Someone to work directly under her helping research, write and interview – a huge opportunity for a wannabe journo to be trained on the job.
I immediately thought – that’s mine.
I knew I wasn’t happy at University around Easter time. I discovered I don’t learn in a lecture theatre and the countryside location was so far away from everything I love (topshop, gigs, busy places, noise and of course news). I was twenty one, had some life experience and was ready to start my career. The thought of being so out of the loop for another two years was really really depressing. So I did something about it.
I applied to five universities in London to transfer my course, the plan being that I would build contacts and get a placement somewhere to make the next two years of painful academic studying and thousands of pounds worth of loans a bit more bearable.
Everyone said no.
But after many phone calls, emails and tears I eventually convinced Middlesex University to let me in on their English and Media degree.
I was saved from that fate in September by a phone call to invite me to the assessment day to be Janet Murray’s apprentice. I was in Bolton at this point – back with my parents before planning on going to Middlesex University to finish my degree and wasn’t sure if I should bother travelling down (real reason, didn’t think I’d survive the train ride home knowing something that was so definitely mine had gone to someone else).
Eventually I realised that was a ridiculous excuse, booked my train and hoped to god I wasn’t going to return empty handed.
There were about fifteen other applicants there, all mostly 18 and from the area. There were a few that had travelled too, a mixture of students really interested in journalism and a few that just wanted a job.
We were given tasks to do; editing a poorly written story, a spelling test, a current affairs test, a writing task where we had to go out into the college and find a story and at the end of the day fifteen had been whittled down to six.
The next day we were asked to do vox pops (I had no idea what they were and googled it in the break), write a ‘winning’ personal statement and sit through a one on one interview with Jan.
Finally, I got it. Up against a guy who was a very good writer and knew loads of clever things about politics and a young very professional looking girl who although seemed a bit quiet was clearly very intelligent. But I WON!! My sister cried, my mum cried, my twitter followers doubled in the space of an hour – it was a great day.
I went back home feeling like my life had begun, packed all my things and moved down to London.
So here it begins.
My apprenticeship ends at the end of June 2012 when I will be a wannabe hack, with no degree but plenty of drive, determination and fingers crossed lots of contacts, a good sized portfolio and tons of hands on experience.
I’m going to use this blog to publish all sorts to do with my apprenticeship, my struggles and hopefully some triumphs too. There will be some advice and tips that I hope will help young people to go out and grab those opportunities.
I am a true believer that if you really really want something and are prepared to do everything in your power to get it, you will.