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Penning your way into a journalism career

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You heard about the meagre pay, the unsavoury hours and the constant deadlines, yet you are still considering a career in journalism. Congratulations, you made it past the first hurdle! Having said that, if you like writing, enjoy researching current affairs in almost any field, or even just fancy the sound of a job which will always stay fresh and interesting, then journalism really could be for you.

But where to start? If you’ve done any research you may have discovered that journalism is a pretty competitive field. This means you could be up against anyone, from those who have had their hearts set for years on a journalism career, to a multitude of other people just looking for a more engaging job than your average nine-to-five slog. By following the advice here, you can hopefully improve your odds, as well as learn possible paths to your first journalistic job.

Read anything. Write everything

Before you even think about career searching, the above point is crucial. Whether it’s checking the headlines on your phone when you’re bored, or actively reading into a subject you’re interested in, the more you read, the more you will learn. Reading as much material as possible will help your writing no-end, as you draw from other writers to develop your own journalistic style.

But where can you write? Twitter is a great platform for just putting out your thoughts without having to commit to writing hundreds of words, and is also extremely helpful in connecting you to other writers. Likewise, starting your own blog is another fantastic yet free platform you can use to practise your writing.

Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone

Speaking to people can be scary, but if you want to be a journalist you’re definitely going to have to get used to it! You may feel that newspapers and real journalists won’t want to hear from you. You could be right, but it’s definitely worth a try! No really, nobody is likely to bite your head off down the telephone for simply making an enquiry, and you’d be surprised at just how helpful some people can be. So whether you’re calling around to look for work experience, or just to ask questions to someone actively involved in journalism, it’s definitely worth a shot.

Consider further study

You may have or be working towards a degree, but if you really want to nail a career in journalism you may need to do a little more studying. The gold standard for beginner journalists today is the NCTJ diploma. This is well-worth looking into as having passed such a course would certainly help set you ahead of others. The course itself is offered by colleges around the country, as well as by certain news and media groups. This is an important thing to consider as many jobs will not even accept applicants without a qualification of this standard.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers who want to get into a journalism career? Tell us below.

Photo: Daniel R. Blume / Flickr

William HarrisonPenning your way into a journalism career

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