If you’ve spoken to me recently, you’ll be aware that I’ve been doing an internship at a magazine for teenage girls (something that rare these days). It’s not my first work experience at a magazine – I’ve previously worked at Student & Graduate Publishing, Woman & Home, Olive and Essentials.
My dream is to write and travel the world, and doing work experience will hopefully bring me one step closer to achieving it. I’m sure that a lot of you are writers too, and would love to assist at a magazine. Unfortunately, there are so few places available for the thousands of candidates who want to work in journalism, but hopefully the following tips should help:
1. Apply to smaller magazines
We all dream of working at Vogue or Glamour, but the competition is intense and it’s not actually as glamorous as it appears on The Devil Wears Prada. Try searching for smaller, independent magazines that other people might not be so aware of. People always say that it’s better to start at a local paper and work your way up if you want to be a newspaper journalist; so if magazines are more your type of thing, look for student publications and start-ups, as well as supermarket magazines. Oh, and if you’ve somehow managed to run out of magazines to apply for, don’t be afraid to apply to the same places again – maybe they just didn’t have any spaces at the time.
2. Apply early
While I did leave applying to magazines until late March / April in my second and third years of uni and managed to secure work experience, I wouldn’t recommend it. You’ll be more stressed, which you don’t want around exam / deadline time. I think the best time to apply is December / January, but big publications like Vogue and The Times are often booked up a year in advance. Other magazines seem to have vacancies all year round – I know Grazia, Heat, Kerrang and The Debrief advertise theirs on GoThinkBig – so if you decide you want to relax / travel during the summer hols you won’t miss out.
3. Be creative with your CV and cover letter
…but don’t go overboard. Use your imagination and write as if you were writing an article. Add a link to your blog or some examples of articles you’ve written. Don’t try to be too clever with the wording in your cover letter as it might be taken the wrong way. Say why you love the magazine and what you can bring to the company.
It’s also useful to find out the contact name of the person who deals with work experience. This makes your application more personal and less like you’ve sent the same letter to hundreds of magazines (which can be tempting when you’re not really getting anywhere). If you’re applying to a print magazine, you can usually find the name of the person you should address your cover letter to on the Contributor’s List. It’s usually the Editorial Assistant / PA. You could always phone the mag if that’s any easier – and it’ll make you look more enthusiastic.
4. Write lots
It’s almost impossible to get any work in journalism if you don’t write during your free time. Set up a blog, sign up to Huffington Post, or join the student paper. Writing for nothing can seem like a chore but it’s the best way to start.
Hope this post is of some use! Let me know if you’ve ever done work experience – how did you find it?!