Ok so it’s not that sad, but as I near the last day of a work placement I always get this strange sense of sadness mixed with disappointment, panic and a nagging sense that there’s more I could have done, more I could have pitched, more people I could have spoken to… a general sort of ARGHH feeling. The problem with journalism, and no doubt other impossibly unobtainable professions (though I’m still convinced that there’s no more difficult industry to break into than the media!) is that very rarely do people get jobs through a straight interview selection process. Sure, there are the yearly grad schemes, but once these positions have gone the rest of the job hunt is a try-every-single-avenue-you-can-possibly-think-of type of game.
It is for this reason that every work placement can begin to feel like a long, drawn-out interview, or at the very least, a not-to-be missed opportunity for making those vital contacts and getting those vital by-lines which could help bag you a job at a later date. The problem with journalism is that you never know when a certain contact, a certain experience, or a certain story might be just the thing that makes it for you on a particular day. And it’s this not knowing that leads aspiring journalists like myself to feel slightly heartbroken, and sometimes even physically sick, when they think they haven’t quite squeezed every last drop of CV-boosting potential out of an opportunity like a work placement – particularly when that placement may have been almost as difficult to obtain as an actual job itself (or at least a job in a “normal” industry).
The last day of a work placement can be particularly frustrating if you feel that you could have a really good story on your hands if you were given just one more day to prove yourself. Of course, you can always try pitching the story from outside the bubble of the paper office once your placement is over, but having an actual physical presence in the newsroom sometimes seems to give your pitch that extra bit of summin’ summin’. It’s as though just being in a newsroom increases your legitimacy levels (look, I’m in a real newsroom, I am a real journalist!). Of course, if you have the scoop of the year then no newspaper in their right mind should turn you down whether you’re outside the paper or not, but if your story’s good, but more of a page 26-er than a splash, then having a bum on a seat really can help.
But it’s not just the prospect of your journalistic legitimacy levels going down, not being able to add a few more lines to your CV, or even exiting the building without a job in hand that can lead to last day blues on a work placement. Sometimes, quelle horreur, it’s because the placement has actually been enjoyable! Yes, sometimes, just sometimes, the stress levels associated with a work placement undertaken by an aspiring journalist nearing the end of a very expensive journalism degree and needing to get a job pronto, are actually outweighed by passion for the job and the realisation that maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t all a terrible idea after all.
So that’s it for the work experience diary folks – for now at least, though possibly even for ever if I can actually manage to find a job at the end of all this! But rest assured, I’ll be keeping you posted about my progress along the way: I might even share some insights of the incredibly painful job-hunting process if you’re lucky! Thanks for reading