Twitter: A Key Tool In The Journo Job Hunt

Michaela Walters

Michaela Walters in the Capital FM news studios

Michaela Walters has completed an internship at one of the country’s leading commercial radio stations. She shares some of her key tips for journo job seekers…

When I graduated in July last year I had already tested the journalism waters by gaining work experience at The Jewish Chronicle, West Essex Life and spending time on BBC Radio 1’s Community reporter scheme.

By the time I graduated I knew I wanted a job in the media. I was open-minded about trying different things and, because of the competitiveness of the industry, I knew that I had to be!

I wanted to get a feel for different areas of the industry first, so I focused my applications towards internships rather than jobs.

I sent out countless applications (seriously, I lost count). A month or two after completing a general online internship application form for Global Radio (which owns Capital FM) I was asked to interview for a three month social media internship – which I bagged!

I worked on all aspects of and learned the basics –  I wrote news stories, conducted picture research, sat in on interviews, built photo galleries, used their CMS and continued to learn about how to best utilise social media to grow brand awareness and drive traffic to a website.

Use Others As A Resource

I was sure to take advantage of the valuable knowledge that those around me had. It is very easy to feel like you’re bothering people by asking for help, but really, most people are more than happy to share their knowledge.

At Global, as soon as I realised how much there was to learn from others with more experience, I asked to be taught, including asking for quick lessons in Photoshop and SEO – anything that would enhance my knowledge and add to my CV.

In addition to the technical know-how I picked up, my experience at Global Radio taught me to seize opportunities and be open-minded. Working in social media hadn’t crossed my mind before I took the internship, but the knowledge that I have gained has definitely put me ahead in the world of online journalism.

I now have a strong CV and feel confident that I have the relevant experience to apply for the online journalism roles that really appeal to me.

Some Jobs Aren’t Advertised

There are two bits of practical advice that I would give to those in a similar journo job-hunting boat to my own: The first is to use all of the tools that exist in our web and social networking world to your advantage.

Connect with people on LinkedIn, look at their career path, message them asking for advice, inquire if they need an extra pair of hands in the office.

If there is a magazine or newspaper that you would love to work for, find the editors and the junior writers on Twitter and follow them – we live in an age where it is so easy to network with people without even meeting them. You’ll be shocked at how many jobs don’t make it on to job sites but rather are posted out from personal Twitter accounts.

I regularly take a few minutes to search for ‘Editorial Intern’, ‘Online Assistant’ or ‘Journo Job’ on Twitter – and almost every day at least one exciting tweet catches my eye.

The best bit is that I know a large number of people looking for similar roles to me haven’t even seen it, because the role never made it to a job site. (Have I just given my best kept secret away?)

Follow the person, tweet them back, email them applying to the role. That is exactly how I found my next role – a two month internship at Hearst Magazines, which I began this week.

Don’t Give Up!

The second piece of advice I have (and it is advice that I admittedly sometimes forget to take myself) is – try not to be disheartened. This is a tough industry.

The vast majority of things I apply for, and people I write to, I don’t hear back from. But like a good journalist would – keep digging. Every so often one person will get back to you, and one person is all it takes.

Do you agree with Michaela about the power of Twitter? Has it helped you find work or internships? Feel free to leave your comments below. You can follow Michaela on twitter @MichaelaWalters

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1 Comment

  1. With all the big companies out there, many of them DO have to post those jobs. The trouble is they already know who they want to hire when the posting goes up, and usually it’s someone who’s spent time in the newsroom and proven their worth as an intern, or fill-in. When I make hiring decisions, I’m always more comfortable with people I know, or can get good references for.
    Twitter IS also an excellent reference for me; I can see what kind of person the job hunter is (polite, in tune with news, respectful in banter, or someone who never uses punctuation, capital letters, or good sense).


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