For all the academic study you do, there is no better experience of journalism than going out there and sampling a living, breathing newsroom. Nowadays, you even need work experience just to get onto certain training courses.
Once you find yourself plunged into the deep end of the news desk, or more specifically the sports department, there is an easy tendency to drift into the background and watch the opportunity pass you by, but remember; it is not school. Journalists are not teachers. You are not their primary concern.
It may be the oldest cliché in the book, but you have to be proactive. Volunteer for everything you can. Suggest articles, come up with ideas. If you think you’re being ignored, write something off your own back. Stuff like this makes you memorable and separates you from the hordes of other work experience students seeking employment in an increasingly competitive market, and such differentiation could prove invaluable when it comes to that all-important first job.
Below is just a small selection of the placements on offer but, in reality, there are probably thousands of potential avenues to advance your understanding of practical journalism. You could try the local weekly paper; hospital radio; student media, or the thousands of sports sites out there desperate for young and enthusiastic helpers. You could even go to your local library and look at their copy of Willings or Benn’s Media Directory, which lists every single published title in the UK.
One final thing; don’t do two weeks somewhere and think you’re Martin Samuel. Always try and do as much as you possibly can in as many different places as you can.
Guardian News and Media (GNM) offers a limited number of short work experience opportunities throughout the year to those dedicated to a career in journalism. Placements are unpaid and range in duration from a few days to a maximum of two weeks. To be considered for a placement you must be at least 18 and able to demonstrate a genuine passion for journalism – for example, serious involvement in student journalism, substantial work experience on local/specialist media, or an impressive personal website or blog. You should also not have received work experience at GNM in the previous 24 months.
For more details, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Encourage work experience placements across the newspaper but demand is high and they’re already full for 2012. However, to get your CV in and register your interest for next year, email email@example.com
Placements can be obtained on their sports desk, with a chance of bylines both in the paper and online, but competition is fierce and opportunities rare.
Placements are available across all departments of the newspaper. For details email HR@mgn.co.uk
Offer 12 two-week work placements over the course of the year, which is one placement for each issue of the magazine. These are over-subscribed and spaces are often booked up to a year in advance but if anyone would like to be considered, they can send their CV to firstname.lastname@example.org. All applicants must have an interest in cricket and have either studied journalism or have work experience in journalism. Travel expenses are paid – but candidates must stay local-ish to London.
Work experience placements are always available but demand is extremely high. You must be 18 or over. Applicants are advised to contact the editor’s PA or, alternatively, click here for the relevant contacts.
While they offer no formal work experience placements, the editor is keen to help and advise any aspiring writers interested in combat sports. Email email@example.com with any relevant questions or queries.
The country’s most popular football magazine is always keen for work experience placements. Based in Teddington, south-west London, you can arrange a placement by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Shoot are always on the lookout for writers who want to have their work published in a more professional environment, and in return can offer feedback as well as the chance to interview professional players. To apply, email email@example.com, marking for the attention of Colin Mitchell, as well as listing your favourite team.
When Saturday Comes
WSC take unpaid work experience students for up to two weeks, but only those doing post-graduate degrees. Prospective applicants should contact Andy Lyons at firstname.lastname@example.org with a CV and covering letter, letting them know their preferred dates.
With over 1700 work placements offered every year, the Beeb is a great bet to make that first step into broadcasting. New placements, ranging from local radio to television to more specific sport placements, are uploaded here every day so be sure to check regularly for your dream placement.
Offer a range of opportunities to aspiring broadcast journalists ranging from short placements to summer-long internships. Check their dedicated work experience website regularly for updates, although be sure to check around February and September when applications for the coveted ITV Experience programme generally open.
Hundreds of placements are available each year across various areas of the channel’s operation. To apply you need to be aged between 16 and 25 and have an interest in a future media career. For shorter work experience placements click here, while for longer, paid opportunities follow this link instead.
Places are available across all of Sky’s channels. There are specific placements available with Sky Sports but be warned they are highly coveted; applicants must be studying towards either an NCTJ or BJTC-accredited journalism qualification as well as having 100 wpm shorthand. There are also opportunities available with Sky Sports Radio in Leeds and the sought-after Sky Sports News Summer Placement Scheme. Check here for more information.
The station is always keen to take on work experience students but demand is exceptionally high so don’t expect an instant placement. To apply, email a good CV and covering letter to email@example.com. This letter should outline your interest in the media/radio, any relevant experience and why you’ve chosen talkSPORT.
This Tottenham-based sports news agency, who in the past have trained Steve Ryder, Henry Winter and Peter Drury, have offered placements in the past, but are accepting no new applications because they are always oversubscribed.
This multinational company that specialises in sports, fashion and media offers a variety of extended placements, internships and graduate programmes throughout the year. For more information, click here.
Offer a number of work experience placements through to longer PAID internships at certain times of the year. Visit here for more details.