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Latest lessons in work experience.

So it’s that time again, where I have had even more work experience at a magazine, and each time I’m learning more and more about how to impress, what not to do and how to deal with the daily tasks. The first ever work experience I had at a magazine was when I was 15. Because I was younger, I was probably ‘looked after’ a lot more, but I had no idea what to expect, didn’t know the jobs I was likely to do, didn’t even know what a magazine office would look like! Now, nearly 7 years on, I can safely say that I pretty much know what to expect now when it comes to work experience placements, and have learnt some lessons along the way.

Use your initiative.

The one thing you need to realize, is that being on work experience is not being babysat. The journalists around you have deadlines to meet, pieces to write and emails to reply to. They still have their daily jobs to do and can’t stop everything to help you and answer every single query to have. That’s not to say you shouldn’t ask questions, but sometimes it is good to use your initiative and keep yourself busy rather than pestering your mentor every five minutes. On work experience, sometimes I was asked to do things that I didn’t quite understand, but I accepted and googled everything! Use your initiative and try to be independent, it shows you have more confidence to do things on your own, but are able to get it done and work in a team. Another way to use your initiative is to keep yourself busy, even when you may not have been given a task to do – what is there that you think you could help with? Sorting out a desk? Proof reading any articles? Transcribing interviews? Begin writing an article about your time at the publication? If you are getting unsure at what you could do – think of one of those things that might help them out – ‘Are there any articles you’d like me to proof read?’ rather than simply repeating the same question ‘Is there anything for me to do?’. Reading their website is always a good thing to keep you busy.

Offer Ideas

There are always going to be conversations going on in the office about the publication. What feature should they do next? What questions should they ask in this interview? Or even more complicated discussions that you might not understand! I think however that it is always good to try and get involved with the conversations – but not too much. Maybe offer some advice, or ask a question to show that you are interested in what they are talking about. It’s better than sitting there completely silent and ignoring the conversation. I think it firstly shows you have interest and confidence, but also that you work well in a team and can offer suggestions.

Know what you’re writing for

This was important when working for GolfPunk and also when I worked at Bliss – to know the publication you are writing for. For GolfPunk, this was understanding that it wasn’t the same tone and content as any other Golf magazine, but a much more relaxed and informal tone. For Bliss, this was the age range of the magazine, being younger than a magazine I had worked on before. That meant that things that were written about, as well as the way it was written including slang language was important. I wrote online news for both these magazines and both had completely different uses of language. It sounds like an obvious point but make sure you READ the magazine before you go on a placement – know what it is like and what it is about. Know the writing style and the topics they write about. This is another useful thing to do at a placement, to read the magazine and become familiar with what they are all about.

Don’t be afraid to offer 10 cups of tea a day.

I have always read that on internships and work experience, one of the best things you can do is offer tea. Unfortunately – I’m not sure if this is a good or a bad thing – I had never actually made tea on a work experience placement before! Maybe because these were smaller offices or no one really liked tea?! At GolfPunk I made a lot of tea – and I wouldn’t complain about it at all. When you are on a placement, or an entry level job, you don’t have as much responsibility and pressure as the people above you. They have a lot of work to be getting on with and deadlines to meet, so they will appreciate you offering to make them tea. It all helps with the general running of the office, which is what an editorial assistant will do. Feel lucky that you have got the chance to be there! If I got offered a really crappy job at one of the best magazine, I would be happy to be making tea all day every day just to get my foot in the door. They really will appreciate it, and it’ll put you in their good books!

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