Back to Uni: How to Bag Work Experience at the Guardian

In November last year, I applied for work experience at the Guardian and I remember filling out the long application and not feeling particularly hopeful about getting an email back, let alone an acceptance. I sent off the application, got an automated response saying they'd received my application and if I was successful they'd let me know by January. January came and went with no reply back, and so I assumed that I'd been rejected and got on with life. Then about a month later, towards the end of February, I got an email from one of the editorial departments thanking me for my application and that they'd love to invite me over for a week. Until that day, journalism was something which I would have loved to do but didn't really think was achievable because of how it was a 'saturated' career everyone else wanted too. Having now done my work experience placement (which was hands down one of the best experiences of my life and it's definitely not because of the free hot chocolate machines they had), I feel I actually do have a chance in doing journalism in the future. So, without further ado, here are my tips for anyone out there who applies for work experience at a newspaper/magazine. 

  • Get experience in writing/blogging as early as you can- This one goes without saying obviously but the more varied the experience you have the better. When I was applying for the placement, I'd written for a national student newspaper and I'd become a blogger and editor for HerCampus. 

  • Familiarise yourself with the application form as soon as you can- With the Guardian, their application form consists of your CV, a painfully short letter to them about why you would be a good candidate for their placement (if memory serves me right they wanted a 250 word letter) and then another 250 words on an article idea that would be of interest to Guardian journalists and readers. I'm convinced that looking at my application form early was what saved me because it gave me a good two weeks to tweak my CV and redraft my letter as well as my article idea over and over again. So, by the time the deadline came around, I felt as if I'd tried the hardest I could have done with it. 

  • Link your past experience to your good qualities (even if it isn't necessarily journalism related)- In my motivation/cover letter, I mentioned that doing an English degree had been helpful in the sense I knew how to put my point across under a word/time limit and how working as a retail assistant had helped me work in a team. Mentioning a variety of things like that I personally think would make you look more well rounded, which has never been a bad thing.

  • Read up about the newspaper- If it is possible, try mentioning an article from the newspaper/magazine that you liked in particular. At least it would show the place your placement will be in is somewhere you actually like reading material from. 

  • Believe you have a chance- As cheesy as this sounds, you might get surprised. I never thought in a million years I'd get work experience somewhere like the Guardian and I couldn't be more grateful that it happened.