As an idea, work placements are fantastic – building up professional experience, stepping out into the industry, making contacts and generally working for real, instead of practising sounds great.
Yet, the reality reminds you that first you need to secure your placement and then actually undertake it and this notion can come rather dreadfully.
University might suggest or even require you complete placements during your time there which can feel like a lot of pressure being put on a student.
Luckily for me, solid effort I put in applying for placements didn’t go in vain. After sending emails to nearly every company in my proximity I got back from three of them all being closely related to my course and the vision of my job role.
Lines of these emails would usually follow a pattern where I would explain that I study journalism at uni, now in my second year and have fundamental knowledge of how the industry works but want to develop those skills in a real-life environment.
I have so far entered the newsrooms of two high-quality newspapers for three weeks combined. I am yet to come back in one of those for another week and then go for another placement with a third employer. See how the career thread unwinds quickly?
It’s probably worthy of mention that I had a front page with both of these publishers, along with other bigger or smaller stories. Yes, I tend to brag, sue me.
What surprised me the most is just how welcoming and supportive people you work with are. They know you’re there to learn but can also be useful to their production. Also, they’ve all been in your shoes once and probably recall how nerve-wracking it can get.
Journalism is the gold-mine of transferable skills. I feel like no other industry offers such a wide spectrum of potential jobs to go into, be it PR, communications, multimedia, or any content-creation role under the sun.
Writing stories however, will always hold a special charm of its own for me, mainly because of the thrilling two-part process it entails, first being collecting material and second crafting the piece with those elements.
To all those who are yet to undertake a work placement, remember it’s vital to respect those who offer you their time.
Come prepared and know what you are expected to do. It varies greatly from industry to industry but bringing ideas with you and being proactive never hurts.
Doing this will mean more confidence for you, and it can play a difference between staying home or coming to your first day of ‘real work’.