Every industry has its secrets about how to break into them. In the big city, investment and consulting industries are fairly straightforward; get an internship or a graduate scheme and you’re in. To be a doctor, do some volunteer work in a hospital, get to medical school, and boom, you’re a junior doctor. However, one industry arguably still keeps its secrets behind closed doors: journalism. Should you start a blog? Maybe email a bunch of newspapers? Send Rupert Murdoch some cookies and your CV?
When I started my journey to journalism, these were all questions I had in mind. However, with hard work and a bit of luck, I am now associate editor for Opulent Time, a watch magazine within a rapidly growing media company.
Although I am still a student, I have learnt a lot from interning with startup publications. As such, I thought I’d dedicate my first article to some advice on breaking into journalism.
Chapter 1: desperation
After receiving countless rejections from traditional “big business” internship programs, I realised I had to rethink my approach. Upon reflection, I asked myself: “am I built for consulting?” and “is this something I really want to do?”
Prior to applying, my perception of success was based on salary. However, I realised it was more important to do what I loved, because passion would ultimately lead me to success.
With this, my decision to look into journalism was fuelled by a few key factors. I have always loved public speaking and writing. Competing around the world in both comedic and debate style public speaking helped develop a passion for communication, and thereby writing. Beyond this, I became the creative editor of Kinesis Magazine, a science magazine at UCL, following my first year of university. Through these activities, I thought I’d give some journalism applications a try.
Again, there came the wave of rejections. However, amongst the “we regret to inform you” and “it has been a very competitive cohort of applications this year” was an invitation to interview with Beau Monde Traveler, a small luxury travel magazine.
Chapter 2: The Interview
I can’t say I’m particularly savvy in interviews, and this was certainly no exception. However, as a result of my experience in Kinesis, my interviewer thought I had potential. This is the beauty of a small publishing or journalism firm (and a great boss too): you often build close relationships with who you work with. Therefore, when attending an interview with a smaller firm, go into it with the confidence that an initial conversation can become a true partnership, where you’ll need them as much as they need you.
Chapter 3: On the Job
Once I got the internship, we got to work quickly. I had done a few articles over the years, but writing two articles a week with university work was initially a struggle. To save yourself time, one piece of advice I’d give is to investigate a bit what the journalism world entails before starting your position. SEO, SD, press rooms, client pitching and PR firm relations were all skills I had to rapidly learn. Now, these tools are my bread and butter. To learn more about these invaluable skills, learn more here and here.
Chapter 4: Here I am
In the end, I was lucky to have my internship extended. Having brought on two of the biggest PR firms in the travel journalism industry, I got promoted across into Opulent Time. Since then, I have helped to build the magazine from the ground up, and have even taken on interns. My journey wasn’t always smooth, but the integrity and passion of the people in this industry is unrivalled. Speaking from my experience in the journalism world, people want to help you out a lot more than you might think. Just be bold and prove that you are worth their time.
My one greatest piece of advice if you are looking into journalism is to start small and gain experience. No matter where you start, you will learn key skills to become a successful writer, and the mentoring that a small firm can offer you is incomparable. So, good luck and get writing!