I had a bit of time to kill… or wanted a break from revision and I wanted to blog about something else other than the NCTJ and moaning. I decided to write four facts about myself and journalism, making myself feel positive about an industry that I don’t even know I’ll get a job in.
Why did I want to be a journalist?
I can’t say ‘I have wanted to be a journalist for as long as I can remember’, or ‘I have never wanted to be anything else’ and I don’t think when people say that, that it really shows passion for a career, I think they are just trying to prove a point. Reading an old diary I found recently I had written ‘By the time I’m 20 I want to be a fitness instructor or a dancer’, so apparently I had no journalistic aspirations when I was 10.
I had always liked the idea of being in the media. But if I’m honest, there were two films I watched that made me want to be a journalist:
- How to lose a guy in 10 days – The main character, Andie Anderson is a writer who wants to write bigger projects and features. To prove her point, she becomes the ‘How-to’ girl, something she hates (but I think I’d love), and does how to lose a guy in 10 days. Why I liked it? She go to go out and experience things, and then come back and write about it, as her job. Obviously it didn’t all go to plan, but I wanted her job.
- 13 going on 30 – It’s nothing to do with the film being 13 and going on 30, but about the rival magazine publications of ‘poise’ and ‘sparkle’, her job looked fun… I want it.
What confirmed this for me?
After my first year of university, I found myself some work experience at a local magazine called etc. I always use this example, when people ask me what kind of journalist I want to be, what I want to write about or why I want to be one. This was probably one of my most valuable weeks at work experience, because in one week, I managed to write, and get published for the next edition of the magazine, two double page spreads and a single page spread. I was absolutely buzzing when I saw the hard copy of the magazine. But what confirmed it for me? My first double page spread was on a trout farm. My second one was on a property. I’ve never been trout fishing, or had any interest in it. I have no knowledge of properties and I’m not a huge fan of property ladder either. But I loved doing these articles, I found them so interesting. It wasn’t about the topic it was about the process. I got given a feature – I had to research, think of questions, arrange a phone interview, do the phone interview, write up my notes, write an 1000 word article based on this, and then see it in print. It was so satisfying, doing the research and writing it up for others to learn about.
My first ever work experience.
…was when I was 15. So I’m guessing my ‘I want to become a journalist’ vibes came just before this, because I remember with absolute certainty, that I wanted to go to a magazine for work experience at the end of year 10. I never, ever realised how hard it was to get work experience though. I naively wrote to Heat magazine, Cosmopolitan, all the big nationals that I had absolutely no chance of getting experience at. I ended up going through lists of magazines in Sussex, and in London and writing so many letters. I didn’t want to opt for the ‘go to your primary school’ work experience, because it would be boring. At the time, I was at a dance school, and so I looked up dance magazines too. I finally found a small magazine, based in London, called Dance Today! To my utter shock, seeing as I was under 16, with no experience whatsoever, they allowed me to go on work experience. I hadn’t even been to London on my own before I don’t think. They even paid my train expenses and gave me lunch allowance. The editor was so nice, she took me through the whole design and publishing process. I learnt a lot that week, and she took me out on the Friday for lunch. I was so envious of her job – she got to go to dance shows, and come back and write about them! For free! I remember thinking, this is definitely what I want to do.
My (hopeful) first job in journalism.
When I get back from travelling, I am in the full-blown, ever-competitive, mind-numbingly-boring JOB SEARCH. I always look, even now, at jobs that are coming up to see if I have the experience or the requirements they need. I have a lot of experience now under my belt, I have a degree in English, and I will, soon, have the NCTJ qualification which gives me knowledge of inDesign and CMS too. My dream first job would be an editorial assistant or a junior feature writer. Both of these, quite unlikely for someone with little experience in the working world. I don’t really mind what magazine it’s for, I’m not fussed if it’s not a woman’s glossy mag in London straight away. I just want to be working for some sort of media publication, even if this is online.