It’s getting darker earlier, The Great British Bake Off is back and so are Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Is that Autumn in the air? NOPE. It’s GoThinkBig Skills Season.

All month, we’ve been hosting events to bring you guys together with industry experts, for the chance to hear how they got started, and then ask all your burning questions in networking sessions.

Last Monday, we welcomed six amazing speakers from the world of journalism to the Think Big Hub for Journalism Careers Unlocked. With journalists, editors and presenters from Buzzfeed, Vice, Metro, ITV, Heat, Born N Bred and Virgin all in attendance, we scooped some pretty big tips.

Here’s what our speakers said you NEED to do to make it in journalism…

1. Get online

Ever Googled yourself? Don’t lie, we’ve all done it! It’s important to know what’s coming up when people are looking you up online.

“Build your online brand,” reccomended Georgie Barrat, a technology journalist and presenter who’s worked for names like Marie Claire, Huffington Post and ITV. She says: “when people search your name they should see examples of your work”.

Make sure you’re on Twitter too. “Every single journalist is on Twitter. In a non stalkerish way try and follow them and engage with them,” recommended Scott Bryan, TV Editor at Buzzfeed UK.

Georgie agreed. She told us that if someone she admire follows her back she sends them a direct message to say ‘hey this is what I do, wanna meet for a coffee?’.

2. Consider non-writing roles

When Scott was getting started he took a non-writing role at The Times, then he realised: “what I should have been doing when I was in these offices was getting to know the commissioning editors”. While he may not have been writing front page stories every day, he told us “I used the opportunity to hound editors” (in a friendly non-aggressive way!)

Matthew Hurrell, Senior Sub Editor at Heat magazine explained his role. “Gemma Collins [from TOWIE] once said ‘isn’t that just spell checking what you do?’,” he told us. NO GEMMA.

“If you’re interested in grammar and are picky, it’s a good way to get into writing,” Matthew told us. It gives you good access to editors, you are responsible for the tone of that magazine and the money’s better!

3. Know your niche

“Get your specialist area or niche,” said Hussein Kesvani, a Media Consultant and Freelance Journalist for Vice and the New Statesman. “The best way of getting experience if you can’t get into a news organisation is find something that you’re really knowledgeable about”.

You might have opinions, but what makes yours valid? Think about areas that you are an expert in, whether that’s technology, religion or women’s issues.

“Understand that your environment and your experience is your own and you can monetise that,” Hussein added.

Scott agrees. He told us that he thinks focusing on TV meant he was able to progress quicker in his career. “By having that experience in TV I was able to jump through so many hoops,” he said.

 4. Be a business

Work experience and internships are an amazing way to learn new skills and get a taste for an industry, but if you don’t think what you’re doing is leading anywhere, get out.

“Look for jobs that are stepping stones, but if there’s no progression, leave!” Georgie recommended.

“You’ve got to market yourself as a business,” Hussein told us. “Number one: don’t work for free. Number two: know your worth. If one organisation isn’t paying enough for your story, shop it around”.

5. Network

“Even the smallest connections can lead to bigger things,” Natalie Clarkson, Content Executive at Virgin assured us.

When Natalie was starting out she met a contact from Virgin whilst walking across a field at an event she was reporting from.”The people that you meet will be super important to get into this industry,” she told us.

Hussein told us that in journalism there are two types of people you should be networking with, senior editors and your peers.

When it comes to your peers, he said: “don’t think that they’re your competitors, they’re your friends”.

To sign up for a Skills Season event, take a look at what’s coming up and apply here

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