This article was written by Georgina Lawton while working for The Debrief.
So you’ve secured the placement (which was no mean feat), you’ve got your outfits sorted and you’re ready to get stuck in, but do you know the hidden tricks to make sure you’re remembered and make the most of your time at a well-known title? When I was chosen as The Debrief’s Editor At Large, I picked up a few useful tips from the journalists I worked with and developed a way of working that I will bear in mind for future positions. If you find this useful and end up getting a job offer afterwards just remember to put in a good word for me, yeah?
An excellent tip I learned at The Debrief was to keep track of everyone I’ve ever met in an Excel spreadsheet. At the beginning of my placement I was set up with an official Debrief email account and had access to hundreds of journalists via the online address book. However I knew that once my placement ended, so would my access to this all-star contact list so I copied some emails into a spreadsheet for future reference (NB: I only copied those who I had interacted with, not everyone which would probably be illegal and very stalkerish).
Taking the time to get to know the journalists you’ll be working with for the next two weeks is vital so ask to shadow everyone, but understand everyone may not have time. Start by asking the magazine’s editorial assistant how things work so you don’t disrupt the team’s working pattern. Luckily at The Debrief, the brilliant editorial assistant arranged casual one-to-one sessions with myself and all team members, which I confirmed with each journalist myself as and when they were free. This was a fantastic way to gain feedback on my writing with editors, ask staff writers how they got their job, and gauge the magazine’s working patterns.
The people you’ll be working with all day everyday should be your main focus in terms of building relationships, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get to know people from other departments and magazines. A publishing house will own several magazines and papers that all share office space, so why not ask your colleagues if you they can introduce you to their friends from other titles? This isn’t to say you should jump ship, but padding out that contact spreadsheet and learning what works in terms of pitching to other editors will always be useful.
I suspected that going into a team of ten, brilliant and established journalists at The Debrief was always going to be a challenge and that it would require me to be outspoken, switched-on and brash – and I was right, kind of. Being nice will never go unnoticed, and it’s important to know the difference between being ambitious and aggressive. Whoever told you that female journos have to be hard-nosed and brash was lying, or obviously hadn’t been to Bauer because everyone was super-nice.
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