By deciding to study Journalism in England, I knew the day would come when I’d have to find a work placement in a language that is not my own. Stressed, yet excited – I started making a list of magazines of my interest. Choosing a topic I’d like to write about has always been a pain as my area of interest is quite large.
I thought Travel and Lifestyle would be my first choices. English publications don’t lack of these subjects so I saw myself facing a great amount of opportunities. English is not my first language though, which added a new (and quite big) challenge to my hunt.
The start of the placement hunt process comes as a quite unstressed and peaceful part of the adventure. I felt quite confident, thinking if I sent hundreds of applications, there’s no way I can end up with nothing. Well, it’s not that easy. I think at that time I didn’t realize yet how many other young journalists like myself were competing for the exact same place that I was fighting for.
Big names in the industry took time to answer and always had this same response “Our placements are booked ahead for up to a year” (cf: HEARST magazines). At least I got a reply – because most of my applications were left unanswered.
Perseverance is the key to success. I believe it took me about three months to finally get a positive answer. I mean, I did not spend three full months sending applications – because after about 20 of them sent and silently declined, I stopped for a while.
I finally got my chance at T3 Magazine, a technology magazine in London. At first, it was a relieve – but I came a long way since my determination to find a Travel or Lifestyle magazine. Knowing I finally found a placement was excellent news, my problem was I didn’t know a thing about technology. It’s strange how some people believe you could be a great addition to something you’ve no qualification for and some others reject you whereas you’ve the knowledge to get your chance in their team. Anyway, the biggest challenge was coming – and an awful lot of questions with it.
My placement at T3 started the third week of May and was for a two-week-long period. When the Staff Writer welcomed me into the office and showed me my desk, my excitement was at its highest point and I couldn’t way to start working. The editorial board made me feel comfortable straight away – the team is young and very relaxed.
The Features Editor was the one in charge of me – giving me most of my tasks. I did some very varied tasks but my very first one consisted in a lot of researches for online purposes.
T3.com is full of ‘Best of 2014‘ lists, which needed some updates. I was in charge of finding new Samsung Galaxy S5 cases for example, or Google Chrome extensions and describe them in a few lines.
At first, it can sound like a quite easy task – and I honestly felt like being the one taking care of what others wouldn’t bother doing. I was wrong. Being concise and informative at the same time can be really hard. The Features Editor has been incredibly helpful – every time I was sending him a paper, he was taking time to sit with me at my desk and review my text point by point. Quoting him, “I just like to try and improve people while they’re here” – I believe I found a great place to improve my skills and enter the world of journalism.
I couldn’t wait to be asked to write some news stories, one of my aims of this placement being to get my name on something.
Finally, the News Editor got in touch with me and asked me to write my first real story. You need to be tough and insensitive when it comes to your words at a work placement. Why? Because they’ll be changed a lot.
I’ve always been bad with accepting changes on my writing style – it always makes you feel what you thought you were good at was just a massive illusion.
I discovered Press Releases and how to avoid being too sales-like. This was I believe the most difficult part – Press Releases are a big influence on your writing and it’s very hard to stick to the facts. I have been trained to stay objective – something I did not see as a real difficulty before starting my placement but which actually is one of the biggest.
My first and second articles were really great trainings, the News Editor was of great help and always being very detailed in his instructions. Just don’t hesitate to ask questions – you want to make everything yourself at first, but enjoy these weeks as part of a real editorial team to get as many advices as you can.
My third article has been left intact – no grammar correction nor bad sentence constructions. I have to say this was a real step and a source of pride.
During this placement, the team tried to make my job as varied as possible. I’ve even been asked to take part in the Apple MacBook Air 2014 unboxing for T3’s youtube channel. That was random. But I left a trace of myself at T3, yay!
Overall, my placement at T3 was a real adventure. The fact that I was not an ace in technology was not a real barrier, I learnt as I got along. It obviously multiplied the amount of researches I had to make, but widened my knowledge on something I would not expect to know that much about.
Plunging into an unknown area was probably the best decision, and it was worth the challenge.
What did T3 teach me? That journalism is definitely what I want to end up doing for the rest of my life.
Here are links to the new articles I got published at T3.com:
— T3.com (@t3dotcom) July 7, 2014
My advice? Go out of your comfort zone!