My most productive work experience was in 2010 which I completed after my first year at university. I went to a local magazine in Sussex called etc. Although I was only there for a week, it was the one week where I have got my proudest articles published. In the September 2010 edition of the magazine, I had two 1000 word feature articles, and one single page article published with my name written! I remember going to pick up the magazine and seeing my name which was a great feeling. They gave me independence, encouragement and advice about a career in journalism.
I decided to get into contact with Laura, the features writer who looked after me during my work experience on her role in the magazine and her advice on those wanting to get into feature writing.
Can you tell us a bit about your current role and the publication you work for?
My main role is working for etc Magazine as the feature writer. It is a glossy monthly publication produced in three editions to cover the whole of Sussex. As the only full time writer it keeps me busy but I also have a weekly column in three local newspapers which covers everything from my baking adventures to my moans about the world.
When did you first want to get into journalism?
I’ve always been a big reader which I think is key to being a good writer. I used to do pieces for the school newsletter, so it has been a while. While writing was the dream job I thought it would stay a fantasy so I was all set to become a teacher. It was only when I came to etc Magazine for work experience then I realised I could do it.
What experience did you have in journalism/the media prior to getting your current position?
During the five weeks of work experience at etc Magazine I had written a lot of articles and even produced an entire wedding special which was given my editors letter at the front. I then returned to university and became a campus journalist before being offered the job back at etc when I graduated.
Can you give us an idea of the tasks you have to do on a daily basis
The nice thing about journalism is that there isn’t really a “daily basis.” I remember two years ago I had just come back from Glastonbury festival so was still adapting to being clean and not in a field when my editor asked “would you be okay to have lunch with Raymond Blanc in two hours?”
The nicest thing about journalism is that there isn’t really a ‘daily basis’.
Of course not everyday sees me sharing a meal with a world famous chef, I also do my fair share of proof reading, email correspondence, social media running as well as turning around a lot of features on everything and anything from travels abroad to fashion round ups.
What has been your most inspiring interview or feature for etc magazine and why?
For our Jubilee special I got to interview a photographer who had been with the Elizabeth II on the day her father died making her queen. Hearing his stories, including using empty beer bottles to navigate across the desert and how he woke up naked in the middle of a camel sale was quite something
What position would you ideally like to hold in 10 years time?
Food, travel and foreign affairs are key interests of mine so any role where I get to indulge them would be amazing. But who knows what journalism will be like in 10 years time, we’ll might just download things straight into our brains! As long as I have variety and a notepad I am happy.
What advice can you give to those wanting to pursue a career in journalism?
Work experience. Not only will it give you experience and a taste of what journalism is like it is key to making yourself stand out. The amount of jobs in this industry are forever reducing. I can honestly say my five weeks of work experience was more beneficial than my three year degree (I studied art and English literature.)
I can honestly say my five weeks of work experience was more beneficial than my three year degree.
Also follow your interests, blog, think outside of the norm and do the NCTJ qualification – I didn’t know about it until I got this job and had to do distance learning on top of my 9-5. It is as important as a driving license to chauffeurs.
How can aspiring journalists make themselves stand out on a work experience placement?
Don’t just do what you are asked. Look for opportunities to help and better still suggest your own articles for publication. It is better to ask a lot of questions and pester for work than it is to stare at the ceiling.
How important do you think blogging is in relation to the journalism industry?
I think online is a huge part of the industry. If you can corner a part of it, do. But make sure you do it properly. A bad blog, especially with typos, will do a lot more harm than good.
Finally can you tell us something random about yourself?
I am terrified of salt water.
Follow Laura on Twitter: @LSCartledge
Or read etc Magazine online: www.etcmag.net