Today I took part in a fun discussion about careers in journalism at the BBC Radio 1 Academy event in Norwich, alongside Newsbeat’s Anna Doble and the NME’s Greg Cochrane. Rick Edwards and Tina Daheley were asking the questions.
I was booked on the last direct train back to Manchester and had to dash out of the session early to catch it so I didn’t have time to give the three tips I’d been asked to prepare. So, I’ll share them here. They’re really not rocket science, but many people I’ve encountered don’t consider them when planning out a route into their dream career.
1. Write, write, write… right?
Seriously, find your voice by writing often. It doesn’t matter if few people read your stuff at first, just get it out there on a personal blog or wherever else you can. When I’m recruiting for an entry-level position, I want to see examples of things you’ve written before. The barrier to entry when it comes to sharing your ideas is so low now that you’d mad to wait for ‘permission.’
Looking back in a few years, you’ll probably be embarrassed about the first things you wrote, but it doesn’t matter – just getting them out there is the important thing for now. Keep doing it – regularly – every day if you can.
Oh, and of course online media isn’t all about writing. If you’re into video – make video. If you’re into audio – make audio. Just do it off your own back as often as you can.
2. Twitter is the best place for media networking online
If you can’t make contacts face-to-face, do it online and make sure you’re active on Twitter (wow, this will probably look dated in a few years, eh?). Just by following the people who create the publications you want to work for, you’ll absorb a lot of knowledge about their personalities and how they work (assuming they’re active on Twitter, of course).
Engage with people in your dream field of work – not in a creepy way, just show how smart you are through responding to their tweets and get on their radar – it could pay dividends later. A lot of the best work opportunities I’ve found have been via Twitter, not LinkedIn.
3. Say yes to opportunities
I know, durrr, right? It’s obvious, surely? But I’ve talked to people in the past who passed up small but interesting work-related opportunities so they could focus on chasing bigger goals. While that’s admirable, setting out on your dream career path can be tough and the big break could come from anywhere.
“I say ‘yes’ a lot” is a key part of my Twitter bio for a reason – there’s no way I’d have been on a panel about careers in journalism today without that mantra helping me make my way through life.