My first journalism work placement was for The Lancashire Post newspaper in June 2018. Home for me is the Ribble Valley (a place in Lancashire, around an hour and a half from Leeds) so I had grown up seeing this paper in my local shop or on the dining table. When I was told that by completing work experience I'd perform better in my degree, this paper was one of the first places I applied to.
I found the relevant person's name through their website, and sent an email expressing my interest in a placement. I explained my degree and any relevant experience I already had. They were quick to reply, and I was able to organise a week of work in their newsroom. I was instantly excited and ready to see what a day as a real journalist could be like.
The first day I was very nervous as I didn’t know what to expect. I presumed I’d just be shadowing someone, maybe making some cups of tea and doing their filing, so I was pleasantly surprised when I was given my first article brief. Whilst there I was looked after by News Editor Mike Hill who was really helpful and open to listening to my ideas. I felt really supported whilst I was there and trusted to write stories for them. My first brief was a long-form piece on the 80th birthday of Manchester Airport - perfect for someone like me who had wandered through the airport's terminals countless times. For a first piece it was a challenge as I had to match my writing style with theirs, and remember all I’d learnt during my first year of my degree.
Once I felt I had finished and edited the article I passed it over to Mike who was happy with it and only had to give me a few suggestions, which I gladly took on board as they were helpful to someone like myself who is still learning their craft. The words “we’ll publish this on Wednesday” will always ring in my ears. This was my first piece to be published and for Mike to take a gamble on a student like me gave me reassurance that I really could do this.
The rest of the week was filled with more articles to write which ranged from a story about CBD oil to commemorative ‘Tommy’ statues for Armistice day. This whole experience cemented my passion for writing and telling stories, but also gave me an additional push to succeed. I knew from this experience that I wanted to be a journalist and it gave me a new level of ambition to return to university and work harder.
As well as the added determination, it improved my writing tremendously as I now write with layout in mind, I take more care with my word count and I use all the little tips and tricks I was taught whilst there to keep my writing clean of mistakes.
Overall, my work experience was a tremendous learning curve and assured me I was doing the right thing by studying this degree subject. I would advise everyone to do work experience to give you a better idea of want you want to do once you complete university. It also gives you invaluable knowledge that you can take with you into your future career.