Considering a career in journalism? There are more options than you think…

Way back in November, I attended the Careers Service’s excellent ‘Careers in Publishing’ event. I hadn’t ever considered a career in publishing before, but decided to follow the advice of careers advisor Helen Buzdugan, who had told me how much publishing linked in with my eventual career goal of journalism.I attended the event, and was pleasantly surprised at the range of careers available within publishing, which vary from writing and proofreading to marketing and advertising. Following the presentations by several professionals in the industry, I decided to speak to Chris Rea from Prospects (the company that publishes all sorts of handy guides for students which can be found in the Careers Service) to find out more about the Manchester-based company. After telling him I was interested in journalism, he took my email address and put me in touch with Louise Hodgson from the content team, who kindly set me up with a day of editorial work experience in January.

The day soon came around, and I began to get a little nervous about what to expect. I was only going to be spending a day at Prospects, and I didn’t know whether this wouldn’t be enough time to really learn anything or get anything productive done. After a struggle with the front door of the building (I must have pressed about five different buzzers trying to work out how to get in!), I was glad to receive such a friendly welcome from Louise, who is a Senior Editor at the company. The morning was spent discussing the structure of the company and how the different teams work together, as well as my previous experience and my future plans. I found out that every publisher does things differently – staff in larger companies have more specialised jobs, and those in smaller companies, such as Prospects, single-handedly cover most of the tasks required for a publication.

Following this introductory discussion, Louise introduced me to the other content team members, who were also very nice and friendly. I spent a lot of the day chatting to them about their previous experience, which ranged from blogging and internships to Masters degrees. One of the other editors, Karam, had actually studied for his Masters in Journalism at Sheffield, which I intend to apply for, so it was great to have the opportunity to find out more about the course. Everyone in the team had got into publishing through a huge variety of ways, but the most consistent piece of advice I received throughout the day was that I really need to get my name out there by getting published as much as possible.

The team then suggested that I think of an article to write for the Prospects website. After browsing the website for inspiration, I realised that in the ‘City Guides’ section, designed to advise prospective students on university cities, my home town of Plymouth was not present. As a city with a large student population, I asked if I could take up the task of writing the guide myself, and my proposal was accepted. I spent an hour or so researching local shops, bars, restaurants and venues and got to work writing about the city. Once I’d finished my article, which was around 600 words long, Karam looked over what I’d done and told me what could be improved. This was a really useful task, and taught me a lot about writing content for the internet, such as the use of SEO keywords and the importance of in-house style.

Once I’d written my article and heard the feedback on it, it was already the end of the day. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I’d learnt in just a day, and how much I’d enjoyed myself. It was a really good insight into the world of work in general, and publishing in particular, which is a career path I am now seriously looking into. Thanks a lot to everyone I met at Prospects for being so welcoming and helpful, and I advise all students reading this to attend as many Careers Service events as possible, and not to be afraid to network with the speakers – it might help you get some work experience!


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