I thought I would share my experience from working as an intern at the Times for anyone who may be an intern there in the future, or someone who is interested and wants to know more about work experience in the field of journalism, or anyone who is simply just interested! Overall, I think it was useful; I certainly was busy for the most part and had a lot of work to do, but, as with most things in life, if I could go back, I would do things a little differently. So here are some tips at working as an intern in journalism.

 

  1. Be ready to get straight into work

One thing that dawned on me when I first started at the Times is that, apart from a brief introduction of your surroundings and necessary information about fire exits and your work space, you are expected to get straight into work immediately. So I would advise to just jump straight into whatever task you are told to do. Most of the tasks assigned to me were from my placement supervisor who would send me emails and I would then complete the task and send her back the completed work.

 

  1. Be prepared to spend a lot of money

Its obvious advice to give, but I will say it anyway after I have cringed looking at my bank account. The Times, located currently in Tower Hill, is not cheap to get to and I did not take into account the peak time prices and so was appalled by the rapid decline of money on my Oyster. Check out all the cheapest options, and additionally, consider a lunchbox. There are options of food places to eat around the area, such as a Waitrose and a Pret, but all were a little over my usual food budget. I chose sleeping in a little longer over packing a lunchbox, and by the end of the day resigned myself to the task of walking to Liverpool Street just to get some McDonalds, convincing myself that the small bag of fruit for one pound I bought at Waitrose meant that I was still being healthy.

 

  1. Be assertive

With a lack of introductions, and being left to your own devices, there is a curious amount of independence you suddenly gain, and it may not be the best thing. Yes, you can leave for lunch usually whenever you feel that you want to, and there are no deadlines as such, but it can leave you feeling very out of place and uncertain. Speaking as an awkward introvert, I usually just completed the tasks I was given to the best of my ability with as much information as possible. The tasks were usually research-based that included typing the results in a form of an article. The other task that differed was being asked to sort out all the previous Saturday newspapers going back to 2009 chronologically also noting the missing issues; a long and confusingly appealing process – perhaps it was the OCD in me that found it vaguely enjoyable. However, my placement supervisor always advised me to speak to someone else if I wanted to do different work, something I should have followed through on. Though it may look as though everyone around you is busy, and you approaching them would simply be wasting their time, don’t let that thought put you off. You are here to learn, and so it’s fine to offer help, although don’t be surprised if you are rejected, and don’t let that put you off. So my advice would just be to remain assertive and helpful; ask the people around you if there is anything you can do, and that may open up different tasks for you to do.

 

  1. Don’t just look busy

It has been widely noted that interns usually end up spending their time trying to look busy, because they haven’t had enough to do, or they have completed their task and are just waiting for the next one. You may find that you are not given enough to do and asking about another task won’t come for a while. Rather than subtly reading the news or checking your email (I did both but going on Facebook was the one thing I drew the line at), find yourself something useful to do. Consider what you may be asked to do next in relation to your previous task, look through their newspaper or current news and affairs and offer up any ideas for articles, or, referring you back to number 3, ask other people. You’re there to learn and gain experience and you will have to push for that in a busy workplace where there are many other interns. Ask your placement supervisor that you would like experience in something like editing or seeing how they put newspapers to print rather than waiting for an available task to come up.

 

  1. Consider other work experience

The Times was a fantastic opportunity and I am glad for those five days I was offered to work there. As a highly competitive national newspaper with a known name, it is great to put down on my CV and enjoyed being able to actually be at the workplace and see for myself how things are done. I would have liked to be more assertive and gain more experience in other aspects of the newspaper which leads me to give one last tip to anyone trying to gain experience in journalism; you may not be able to gain a lot of experience at a national newspaper. Due to its size and other interns there, it may be hard to break through and do some distinguished work. Before, when I was trying to get experience, I found that working from home providing articles for online magazines was one of the best ways to achieve some experience, as well as building a portfolio for myself. You can look to your university’s newspaper or your local newspaper at home, as well as the range of blogs and online magazines that you can contribute to online. I write weekly for a fashion online magazine which I found has offered me great opportunities: as well as writing weekly articles, I attend press releases and events, am able to review and photograph these events, meet new people and learn more about the field of fashion. So, for me, I think it’s important to remember that there are so many opportunities at gaining journalistic experience and sometimes you can gain more from smaller newspapers or magazines, rather than the national ones.

Overall, if you do have a chance to work at the Times, seize that opportunity and make the most of it. My placement supervisor was lovely, and I was glad of the tasks I was given, and I hope that I’ll be able to get more internships at national newspapers where I can learn from what I did at the Times and improve myself as an intern for the future. And bring some lunch – it’s worth waking up that little bit earlier in the morning for it.