How To Get Work Experience At NME

NME

Getting work experience with the iconic magazine was no easy feat for Anna. (Pic: NME.com)

Anna Hall writes about her work experience this summer with one of the UK’s most well-known music journalism magazines…

NME magazine has been a British institution for decades and, if you’re looking to break into music journalism, it is quite possibly the holy grail of work experience placements. After having (relentlessly) applied for a placement through the Editor’s PA Karen Walter almost a year ago, I got offered a week of work experience this June. NME typically only offers one-week placements. That sounds short, but believe me, it is well worth it! Just being in the offices, surrounded by people who are doing exactly what I want to do was thrilling.

NME is part of Time Inc., a media company that occupies most of the Blue Fin building right behind the Tate Modern on the beautiful South Bank. When I arrived, there were three other interns and we were given a row of computers with an impressive view of the river and the City’s glittering skyscrapers. It was so exciting being in the heart of London and inside the offices of the magazine that I’ve grown up reading.

On the first day Karen showed us around the building and introduced us to the team, but after that it was really up to us to be productive. While occasionally people would come up to us and give us jobs to do, we were mostly expected to ask for work. That was really daunting.

You barely know anyone so it’s important to be proactive (otherwise you’ll end up doing nothing all week!) I got to do a lot of different things, from transcribing interviews with members of The Strokes and The Monkees, to researching for articles and sifting through back issues.

The most helpful thing I got out of the experience was feedback on my writing. Karen sent us a list of new singles and we were asked to write up a 100-word review of 3-4 tracks. One of the writers on the team then sits down with you on your last day and gives you advice on how to improve your writing . Getting  that one-to-one guidance from an experienced music journalist is invaluable, even if the article doesn’t get published.

They say breaking into journalism is tough. In truth, even getting work experience in the industry is hard. It wasn’t easy for me. My advice is that simply sending an email isn’t enough. Karen is no doubt flooded with applications and there is a rumour that NME gets 200 requests for work experience a week!

When I applied, I sent in my CV, covering letter, and writing samples by post, followed by an email. I did this simply because I think getting a physical copy in the mail is harder to ignore and it shows that you’re serious enough about the job to go through that effort. I generally apply for all internships and work experience by mailing my application in; I’ve always received positive feedback about that.

Aside from that simple trick, if you want to secure a work experience placement at any magazine you need to write! You don’t need to be a Journalism major or an English major – many of the other interns weren’t. The most important thing is to be writing prolifically and consistently. All of the other interns at NME that I worked with had music blogs and updated them constantly with gig reviews, album reviews, and anything music related.

While I don’t run a blog, I write monthly for several small, independent publications and my university newspaper. There are so many opportunities to write that if you are not writing consistently, you really won’t be taken seriously. Be passionate, write prolifically, and then bombard Karen with your writing samples and CV (don’t be creepy though – no stalking). Everyone at NME really was lovely and if you are passionate about music journalism, they will take notice.

Would you like to write for us about journalism work experience you have had? Get in touch! For the latest on jobs and internships, follow us on Twitter @Journograds and like us on Facebook

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