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Where to start

Get writing. Write for student media, write blogs, write stories. Journalism is all about communicating stories to an audience. Find your style and learn how to source, research and write those stories. You’ll shape them differently for articles, blogs or social media and for different audiences.

These early pieces will tell you what kind of journalist you want to be, and provide you with a portfolio of work.

 

How to know if you’re suited to this sector

Are you happy pitching your ideas to editors? Marketing yourself, managing your finances and tax returns? Do you thrive on variety and flexibility? Are you excited by not knowing exactly what you’ll be working on in a few months’ time? Journalism is a freelance career, so being comfortable with this lifestyle is a must. 

How to get the experience to be credible

Start with student media. If you tell future employers that you have a passion for uncovering the truth, telling stories and writing articles - but you haven’t written for any student outlets - they’ll wonder why not.

Move on to local/regional papers and magazines. This is the time to be proactive and write speculative approaches. Writing on your own blog is also a good idea, as is get experience across of social media, vlogs, and website building.

Further study or certification required

Most entry-level and trainee roles in print journalism require either an NCTJ accreditation or a Master’s in journalism, although it is sometimes possible to get in without this. Journalism training doesn’t replace the need for practical experience.

How to find employers or training courses

Look through the following resources:

Tips for succeeding in the application or selection process

There are over 8000 UK magazines and papers. Most don’t run schemes and internships. Improve your chances by being flexible about which publications you apply to. Seek out opportunities and make speculative applications for work experience. This is the norm in journalism. Organise your contacts and keep in touch with them.

Time your approach. Don’t contact a publication just prior to a print deadline, as you won’t be a priority. Instead, approach them just after they’ve gone to print, and have more time for you. Proactivity and confidence in following up your speculative approaches shows commitment.

Recognise your skills gaps – if you have plenty of article writing experience but no experience communicating journalistically in social media then seek to fill the gaps through your next experience.

What Cambridge offers to help with this career
Other things you should know

There are few structured internships and graduate schemes though there are a variety of competitions and awards for young journalists including:

See HoldTheFrontPage for other Media Awards

The media sector, including print journalism, is actively trying to diversify its workforce.  Many of the schemes and opportunities focus on this and eligibility criteria often include people with disability, BAME or those from lower socio-economic backgrounds.