Summer has finally arrived (Well, the sun is visible, which is good enough for me), and with it comes probably the most popular time of year for aspiring journalists to go on work experience.
And if you’re one of those embarking on work placement this summer check out some of the great pieces in our archive for tons of advice, so you’ll be mentally-prepared for the day you roll up to the newsroom smartly-dressed and with new bag in hand.
But what have you got in that bag? Because that’s just as important as the rest of your work ex prep, and luckily we (and the lovely people in the Wannabe Hacks community) are here to help out with this list of some of the most important things to have on you:
This may seem like a pretty obvious way to kick off the list, but did you note the plural? Unless you’re only there for an afternoon, one notepad simply ain’t gonna cut it! Once you get into the swing of planning any tasks, interviewing people and writing articles you’ll be surprised how quickly those pages run out.
They say journalists are always skint, and I reckon it’s because roughly 73% of their entire salary is spent on notebooks (seriously, look for the piles of shorthand-filled pads on your colleagues’ desks)! The size of the pad is up to you, but in my opinion you can’t go wrong with a reporters A5 pad, which is large enough to fit a decent amount of text on but also small enough to take out on the job.
If you’ve started a degree or short course in journalism I’m sure you’ve had it drilled into you by your lecturers that it’s important to get a contacts book and start filling it ASAP! And they’re not far wrong, and work experience offers you with a great opportunity to start building contacts and making relationships with sources.
If you’re on a regional paper it can really help you get to know the who’s who of the area, and even on a national or other publication it can be possible to gain great contacts for specific subjects, and if you’ve got a sieve-like memory a contacts book is a vital part of your arsenal.
Sometimes the hardest thing about slotting straight in on work experience and getting your work published is a matter of style. Not the jazzy tie you’ve picked out, but the style of the publication you’re working for. And that’s where having a copy to hand can be a real help, so if you’re stuck on how to refer to an area or the distinction between % and per cent you can help yourself out. It can also give you a sense of the publication’s writing, tone and structure, which can be vital in getting your work published without much editing.
Whether it’s an actual Dictaphone or just a recorder app on your mobile it’s always useful to have an audio device to record interviews while on work ex. If your shorthand isn’t quite perfect it can help avoid crucial mistakes, and when out vox popping or interviewing in person it can sometimes be much easier to use than pen and paper (try writing down an interview in a town centre while wind and rain attempt to tug your pad out of your hands).
And it’s vital to bring along spare batteries and/or a charger in case the worst happens and it dies on you pre, mid or even post interview. Do the same for your mobile phone too, because you may need to use it at any time, and (unless you’ve got a Nokia 2310) one charge may not make it through a full day of calls.
A bit of a cheat entry this one, as ideas may be an abstract concept, but for this article’s sake let’s just assume they’re written down on paper! And if you can turn up on your first day of work experience with some good research and article ideas it can really impress the professional journalists you’re working with. Even if they don’t get taken on it shows initiative, and that you’ve really prepared for your placement. And if they do like an idea and let you run with it even better!
Of course this is only a small selection of the many important things you may need in your bag for work experience (seriously, I’m surprised we don’t all turn up with hiking-sized rucksacks), and we asked for the help of the always-brilliant Wannabe Hacks community to come up with some other fantastic (and often left-field!) suggestions:
Do you have any more suggestions for important things you need on work experience? Let us know in the comments section or by tweeting us @wannabehacks
Photo courtesy of Lee Morley