Obviously, I can’t say anything about the top-secret magic that goes on at any of the places I went to on work experience this year. What I can do, however, is interview myself about how it went. So, a guide to journalism work experience, from someone who’s done it.
So, Sacha, was it everything you ever hoped and dreamed and more?
It’s work. The clue is in the name. This isn’t like work experience when you’re fourteen, it’s proper. You’re a proper adult doing a proper adult’s work. It’s just like office work to be honest, a lot of sitting in front of a computer, fiddling with bits of paper and having meetings.
If it’s just like work, does that mean you listened to Test Match Special the whole time?
No, that level of indifference can only arise when you have the safety of being paid. It didn’t help that we didn’t have cubicles, which I think bosses are now cottoning on to. If nobody can see you, nobody can stop you. TMS wasn’t even on- also, why does the internet need to know I spend every working day in summer plugged into Test Match Special? It hardly boosts my professional image.
Sorry. Perhaps you’d like to redeem yourself by explaining why Test Match Special is necessary to foster an excellent working mentality?
Of course. TMS is, first and foremost, a radio broadcast, and therefore be widely ignored. However, when the brain begins to stagnate from overwork, it is soothed by the lazy cake-and-cricket centric show until ready to begin operating at full capacity. I would strongly suggest that PhD students take on this idea as their thesis. I will give you a tenner in exchange for an acknowledgement.
How is this any use to anyone thinking about work experience?
If it allows them to listen to TMS with the backing of the scientific community, I’m sure it would make work experience candidates’ lives a lot easier.
Why was it hard?
The commute is awkward, which you might have guessed from last week’s blog. That puts you off balance for the rest of the day. Also, though, you’re very conscious about being the only person there who doesn’t know the ropes. They’ll assume you know things too, such as finding out who owns a photograph. This is a pitfall- everyone owns their photographs, and you have to ask nicely to use them.
Did you enjoy it, though?
Of course I did. When I first spoke to someone about doing work experience, he had a word of warning for me. It wasn’t going to be like I expected. I’m not delusional, though. I knew I was going to have to rise to it, and I’m glad I did. Seeing my name next to a published article, even just on the web, was amazing. Very much looking forward to seeing it in print.
Did you learn anything?
Plenty. Ask for things to do- they’re not used to having you. Receive praise humbly, but note it and be glad of it. Also, I write like somebody who doesn’t want to be read, with a touch of verbomania which is both alienating and insulting. Sorry, but that’s not likely to change too soon. I will try, though.
What was the hardest thing?
Being edited. There were some words inserted, some stylistic tweaks that were made that I wouldn’t have done in a million years. I’m disinclined to accept they were right, because when I wrote it, I wrote, to my mind, the best I could. When someone makes a change that I think detracts from it, of course I’m not going to like it. Still, you have to move on from it. It’s a difference of opinion, but not one that matters. If the editor makes the same type of stylistic changes on all articles, that’s what the audience are going to be used to and what they’re going to like.
So you’ll get your blog edited again?
Fat chance. Here, I’m judge, jury and executioner.
What would you do differently next time?
Try and be a bit more confident. It helps to speak up and remind them you’re still there.