How do I gain work experience?

There are many, many ways to get media work experience. Here are my five top tips for getting that prized placement…

Utilise your personal contacts
So your Dad says his childhood best friend goes on an annual fishing trip with the Head of Sales and Marketing at a large magazine company? Well there’s an opportunity too good to resist. Think of everybody as your possible connection to your dream job. Don’t be afraid to ask around and see if anyone has any friends who might be able to help you. You might not be able to blag yourself work experience but any advice from people working where you want to work is sure to be invaluable.
Where it worked for me: The National Magazine Company

Apply through advertised work experience schemes
Often large companies will advertise placements on their own websites. These are normally fiercely competitive and don’t be surprised if you apply and never hear back. Media jobs sites such as Gorkana and Media Nation UK will also list placements regularly, as will specific placement sites such as RateMyPlacement so it’s worth favouriting these sites and checking them daily.

Send out emails/letters/calls
Just because a company doesn’t advertise work experience on their website, it does not mean that they don’t offer it. Send an email to the Editor with your CV and remember to tailor your cover letter to each individual placement – in my experience this definitely makes a difference. Letters may seems old fashioned but they’re becoming a bit of a novelty so it might be a way to distinguish yourself from an inbox full of work experience enquiries.
Where it worked for me: Grand Designs Magazine

Approach people at events
Networking is a vital skill for all media workers. Attend events that are relevant to your chosen career and put your networking skills into practice. Lots of magazines run events specifically for networking (Stylist and Marie Claire are great examples), whilst magazine staff will often be at industry events and consumer shows. For example, if you wanted to get some work experience on a Food or Travel magazine then go along to BBC Good Food Show or Masterchef Live and there’s sure to be staff from the likes of Delicious or Good Food who may be able to offer you some advice.
Where it worked for me: Food & Travel Magazine, Manchester Confidential

Use Twitter
You were waiting for this to come up, weren’t you? There are two main ways I’d suggest using Twitter to gain work experience. Firstly, through networking with staffers and forming an online relationship before pitching yourself for a placement. Or alternatively, magazines and production companies will often tweet if they need extra help with upcoming projects. I know More Magazine have been known to offer immediate start placements on their Pictures Desk through social media and plenty of other sites will often tweet when they need a work experiencer. Search ‘#intern’ or ‘#internship’ and you never know what you might come across. Also, remember to keep an eye on my list of Work Experience tweeters – they could tweet that perfect opportunity you’ve been waiting for.
Where it worked for me: Ethical Heaven, More Than The Music

What are your best tips? Leave your comments for other aspiring interns below!

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About catherineelaine

Digital-loving Linguistics graduate starting on a digital marketing grad scheme in Sept 2013.
This entry was posted in How To Guides and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How do I gain work experience?

  1. Matt Learmouth says:

    Start early!
    Write/create for fun (eg for free – DO NOT EXPECT PAYMENT) and take a subject you’re passionate AND knowledgable about.
    Approach relevant people/organisations and make contacts in that area to help gain access, interviews and connections.
    Build up a portfolio of work.
    Use the portfolio as leverage to get more work within the same area, then broaden your reach (eg start with music then add lifestyle elements).
    And if all else fails with your journalism dream then there’s always the dark side (PR or digital marketing).

  2. temitopepeters says:

    This is great! I am a big fan of networking via Twitter and often tweet at people/organizations in hopes to some how be involved. Where is the line though? I find that when I tweet often times people do not respond so I tweet at them until they do or I get bored. I feel like it is almost borderline nagging. Is it? How should we deal with situations where people are not responding back?

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