It seems like everyone wants to be a journalist these days – with a questionable salary and very few journos making it big, I’m not quite sure why. Nonetheless the competitive trade requires dedication if you want to break into it; one way of standing out from the crowd is to get work experience in journalism, and lots of it.
Here are a few ways you can give yourself a better chance of securing a week or two on the country’s various news desks.
Start a portfolio
Every editor upon receiving a CV or a work experience application expects to see some sort of collection of your work. Whether it’s a few news bulletins you recorded or an online portfolio of your articles, be sure to send this. In terms of the latter, a great website to use is Contently. It is an easy-to-use website where journalists can display all of their written articles. An impressive portfolio is certain to impress an editor – it adds some context to the flowery email you send them.
Pitch! Pitch! Pitch!
Don’t be afraid to put your skills to the test. If there is something interesting going on in your area, rather than telling everyone on Facebook, find out more about it. Do some research, get a couple of quotes and pitch the story to an editor. National and regional papers are always looking for a good story – you can be the one to give it to them.
Get involved with student/local publications
Perhaps one of the most obvious, but essential, things you can do to get your CV noticed. Getting involved with a college or university newspaper gives you a perfect opportunity to engage with your journalistic skills on a regular basis. On top of this, it is a great way to meet and network with people who share your interests. I assure you, this alone can open you up to many different opportunities and experiences.
Send out plenty of emails
This is perhaps one of the most demoralising parts of trying to secure journalism work experience. You send out a million emails asking for work experience and you only get one back (telling you that the paper’s office is based in Johannesburg). But there’s no need to be disheartened, it’s simply a part of the game; knock-backs are a near certainty. Be sure to send out emails, but make certain they include an up to date CV and a covering letter that is tailored to the publication you are applying to.
Be social media savvy
Social media has changed the nature of journalism and is an essential tool to any reporter. Editors when hiring people will expect them to have some sort of online presence. If you are regularly writing stories or filming reports, share them on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. The former is such a useful gadget, whether you are trying to get in touch with a journalist, promote your work or keep up to date with what’s going on. A good journalist is always well connected – be on top of your social media.
The laborious search for work experience is definitely one of gradual progression. Try out the tips above and as you apply for more positions you are likely to find that your CV will gradually improve. As this happens, more editors will give your CV a second look and before you know it, the work experience offers will be flooding in.
Do you have any more tips on increasing your chances of getting work experience? Let us know in the comments below.
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