I graduated last summer and I want to be a features journalist on a mag. I didn’t know this straight away so I did work experience in marketing, online advertising and PR – hating them all. The online advertising agency was advertised on the Graduate Talent Pool, when I showed up it was a dusty little office above a SPA offy – this was in winter and it didn’t even have radiators! It paid expenses, I’ll give them that much. Then the PR agency was in a small office in Covent Garden, with four people and an office dog. All I did was send outs and returns, which was not how the internship was advertised, so I quit on the Friday as I wasn’t benefitting from it at all, and they tried to not give me my expenses as I hadn’t given them enough notice of my leaving and had ‘left them in the lurch’. Whilst I was there they actually asked me to clean the fridge…thankfully that was the Friday, and I never went back.
So then I was decided on journalism, and headed for the big titles. After hundreds of CVs being sent out I landed placements in five prestigious titles. I’ve learnt that entry-level editorial positions go to the intern that is there at the time when the current editorial assistant leaves/gets promoted. However most magazines have interns booked in on a monthly basis sometimes years in advance, so remaining in one place as the intern is virtually impossible. Therefore I’ve been ‘mag-hopping’ for months, and am no closer to that elusive Editorial Assistant position.
The public needs to be made aware of the way companies are using their interns as free labour. Just today I was offered a 3-month placement with a tabloid newspaper following my application for editorial work experience. The placement was an administration position, NEXT TO the news desk – so “hopefully you may get the chance to write something”, and paid £5 a day “to cover expenses”. Unless I lived in zone 1, which no graduate does, this would never cover my expenses. Anyway, I’m pretty much looking into getting a random job outside of journalism now as the fight to get into it is so so tough, and you need a thriving bank account to support you while you pursue it!