My Path Through the World of Journalism – Part 1

by poppycoxhead

This account may be of use to those looking to get into journalism, writing, marketing or anything of the creative variety (even if it’s to not make the mistakes I made!). It will be in two parts as it is quite long.

I went through university not really having a clue what my vocation was – I achieved average grades and made friends and went out drinking and all the usual stuff that people without a clue do. Then I went to America for four months to study abroad and started blogging about my experience. Hmm, I enjoyed writing it and people seemed to enjoy reading it. And thus my ambition was born: to be a writer of some sort.

I continued blogging when I got home and developed a modest following (ok, very small but I know people read it. I saw the stats). When I graduated I wasn’t sure how to proceed, not knowing how much of a disadvantage not having a journalism degree so I tried to get as much work experience as possible.

Easier said than done, however – what I didn’t realise was that even people who didn’t want to pay you for the pleasure of making tea and doing other menial tasks demanded some form of experience. Despite this, I landed a two- week placement with a local newspaper. Whilst a useful insight into the newspaper world and a terrifying features editor, I hated it. News isn’t really my strong point anyway, so it was inevitable that I wasn’t going to enjoy it. Local news even less so (I know, beggars can’t be choosers but I didn’t want to settle for doing something I didn’t LOVE). Still, I got a feature published so it wasn’t all bad.

My teen mag hack cousin kindly landed me another two-weeker at a national teen mag (it really is who you know sometimes), which I loved. Friendly staff, a relaxed atmosphere and my writing style fitted in perfectly with their reviews criteria. We’ll not mention the fact I had to chase after teenage boys in Tunbridge Wells shopping centre (literally) to get vox pops for the ‘lads’ page (it happened, and I’m not proud of it). But I learnt a lot – scouring newspapers for ANY ‘sleb gossip, transcribing and LOTS of research. And, you know, lashing of Justin Bieber.

I came home, spurred on by my positive experience and apparent affinity with and ease to write as a tween. And then…nothing. I applied to newspapers, magazines and websites for work experience, internships and jobs. For several months I didn’t get a response at all. From anyone. Because they had such high volumes of applicants, they couldn’t even write to me to reject me. But that made it even worse for me – I wasn’t even good enough to get acknowledgement. I got absurdly excited over my first rejection letter. Yes, they didn’t want me, but at least they’d definitely looked at my CV and thought about me, if only for a second (small victories).

Still no job though, and I was just about to resign myself to the fact that I’d have to find a job at home (rural, sleepy Shropshire) when everything changed. To be continued…

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8 Responses to “My Path Through the World of Journalism – Part 1”

  1. Thanks for your great insight into the world of Journalism Charlotte! It’s so disheartening when you know what you want to do but you keep getting knocked back. You’re much braver than me, I never really went into Journalism, I just didn’t have the tenacity for news. However, I’ve always wanted to go into Radio Journalism, but never really did anything.

    Looking forward to the next part!

  2. Great post. A lot of what you say is familiar ground, for instance about connections getting you in places and hoping for a rejection letter just to make sure that someone is actually reading your applications. You’re smart for not settling for something you don’t love because then you’d just be miserable and bored and regretful.

    I never wanted to get into journalism because interviewing people and getting all the facts straight made me too nervous! That’s why I prefer fiction–I write truth in lies and I don’t have to talk to anyone. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your experience!

  3. Interesting. I’ll be back to read the next installment.

  4. Can’t wait to read more!

  5. Thanks, I think that’s the closest I’ll ever get to writing a story (well, kinda) – the next installment should be coming soon and will hopefully be as or more exciting!

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