I am a big fan of the cheesy inspirational quote, and I saw this quote just after I had decided to write a blog post about making opportunities for yourself – it was the perfect match for my post.
I fully stand by this quote, and without knowing it, it is a quote I have constantly followed for the last couple of years in relation to my own journalism career. This firstly started with work experience. Nowadays, a lot of bigger companies advertise their work experience and internships like they do jobs – it shows that they need someone there on work experience to help them. My own idea, however, was to find work experience for yourself, don’t just let it come to you. Find smaller or different magazines that aren’t advertising for work experience placements. Find magazines you really enjoy reading and would like to be a part of and write to them. They may not have advertised for a work experience placement, but doesn’t mean they wouldn’t like your help. After all, you are working for free. I always think writing letters or emails really shows your initiative, as long as you make sure the cover letter is personalised to that publication on why you want to work for them, not a ‘general letter’ you send out to 20 people asking for work experience (that never, ever works).
The harder part is using this quote to find a job, and paid work in journalism. However, seeing as both my soon-to-be full time job and my freelance work can be said they were found using this quote, I definitely think it is doable. I think, especially with paid freelance work, going to smaller publications, not the national magazines or newspapers in London, it can work better.
- Write an email explaining who you are and about yourself – i.e. graduate? nctj? masters? where do you live?
- Why do you want to work for them? Show an interest in their company, why they are different to others, why you think you would fit in there
- What skills can you offer? What are you good at? Do you blog? Write? Know CMS? SEO? Tweet? Proof-read? Show them skills that might open their mind to a role that you could fit in, or even better, make a role for yourself.
- What ideas do you have? Article-wise? Something for the magazine/newspaper?
- Explain something along the lines of, you know this is a risk, or an unusual way to approach for a job, or you know they aren’t advertising, but you really think it could work because…
- ATTACH YOUR CV – they might just have a little peek and like what they see.
Sometimes, companies might not think they need someone, until you show them what you can offer. They might not think they need someone updating their social media channels and blogs, until you tell them how experienced you are in doing this. Tell them what you can do that will make yourself invaluable to them. Approach them with interest to their company, don’t come across as just wanting paid work… come across as specifically wanting to work for them! And make sure it’s true what you are saying, don’t write an email to a magazine you aren’t really that interested in, because that will come out eventually.
By doing this, it shows your qualities as a person that might give them a glimpse of what you will be like working for them. If you can take the initiative to, off your own back, email them and basically ask for a job, it shows a determination and passion in your for your career; something that can easily be transferred into the job you will be doing.
Obviously a lot of companies might love the email you send, but really cannot offer any paid opportunities for you there and then. If you get the offer of work experience then my opinion is you should take it (if you are able to and can afford to). They must have liked your email and if they like you on work experience, who knows what the future could hold in terms of opportunities there? In journalism and the media, jobs are very rarely handed to you on a plate. Well, I guess this can be said in any industry, really. Unless you are in the right place at the right time knowing the right people, then you really have to work to be recognised and demonstrate why you are better than the person next to you. Jobs on journalism twitter feeds and the usual gorkana, journalism.co.uk, etc is where everyone looks for their job. These are the jobs everyone will be applying too. Of course you should, but don’t let this be the only place to look for jobs. Make use of the internet, google and find different job websites. I found mine by simply typing in ‘editorial job, sussex’. The job advert I found hadn’t been on any Twitter newsfeed, or gorkana, which were my two ‘safe’ options. If I hadn’t have googled that, I wouldn’t have found it.
Take initiative, don’t just sit back and wait for something to come along.