CNN Intern: Passion Is ‘Most Important’

Journo grad Artur Osinksi in the Quest Means Business studio at CNN

Artur Osinski at CNN’s ‘Quest Means Business’ studio

Artur Osinski is a recent journalism MA graduate who is interning at CNN International. He reveals the qualities that helped him land his place there…

As a journo grad, it’s easy to wonder what would make potential employers choose you over anyone else out of hundreds or thousands of candidates.

Is it good education at a respected university? Is it having a couple of work experience placements under the belt? Is it good connections?

I’ve come to learn it’s a combination of all these things – as well as a few others which stand out.

Surprisingly maybe, I’d say that a good degree isn’t a particular advantage – but not having one is definitely a disadvantage. That’s the harsh reality.

Nowadays there are hundreds of fresh journalism graduates every year – it doesn’t make you special. But try not having a degree and you’re automatically behind that entire crowd that does.

It’s also impossible to stress the importance of work experience. No course, no matter how good it is, will teach you as much as a good placement in a newsroom.

Throughout my university years I did a month at the leading Polish news channel TVN24. I also did two weeks working on a prime-time news bulletin in the Polish TV channel Polsat, as well as a month and then a couple of loose shifts for the BBC in the UK.

I didn’t stick exclusively to television either (even though that’s what I want to do). I wanted to gain all-round experience, so I worked for a week in a regional newspaper in Buckinghamshire, wrote some articles for the university newspaper and for a video games website.

Relevant work experience is more important than education – I always put it on top of my CV. It shows that you’re active and you really want to be a journalist.

Networking is another thing which is very valuable, and it is important to make contacts and build connections whenever you can. I met a BBC editor at a conference for TV journalist-wannabes, approached him, showed him my work (which he fortunately liked) and maintained regular contact before I could work there – a whole year and a half later.

It pays to stay positive and seize opportunities when you see them. You should also cherish your contacts – you never know when they might be useful.

Perhaps the most important factor in getting work, however, is passion. Don’t bother with journalism if you’re not seriously into it. The profession is so popular and so filled with graduates who are desperate to become journalists that if you’re lukewarm about it, it’s just not worth wasting your time.

If watching television and reading newspapers regularly sounds tedious, find a different career path. It’s as simple as that. You should be reading (books as well!), watching, learning, creating contacts, sustaining them. It may sound like a 24-hour job, but trust me – it doesn’t feel like work if you truly enjoy it.

As for CNN, I got an e-mail from City University while I was studying there advertising the fact that the broadcaster was recruiting for three-month internships at four different departments.

The usual followed: sending a CV, cover letter, application form (it wasn’t very long, but involved showing my editorial judgment on some of the biggest news stories of 2012) and, of course, keeping my fingers crossed.

A phone-call followed, arranging a phone interview at a later date. I was as jubilant as I was stressed; it was a glimpse of hope after a couple of months of fruitlessly applying for vacancies.

The final conversation was with none other than Richard Quest himself. It was tough, robust, no-nonsense and surprisingly short. News was the most important bit, and fortunately I was well prepared. The answer came within hours and, to my joy, it was a positive one.

Would you like to intern at CNN? The broadcaster is currently looking for a digital features/special projects intern. If you want to share your own experiences as an intern, send us an email or get in touch via Twitter @Journograds

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