Capital FM: From Intern To Editor

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Michaela Walters is online content editor at CapitalXTRA.com

Michaela Walters explains how she left Capital FM as an intern and returned as a full-time employee…

It’s been just over a year since I wrote my first blog post for JournoGrads – and what a difference a year makes.

In March 2013 I was just finishing my internship at Capital FM (Global Radio), working on the station’s website. As my two following blog posts document, I’ve since had one internship, one full-time job, and believe it or not (mostly ‘not’ for me) I’ve pretty much come full circle, as I’m back at Global Radio as a full-time employee.

I’m now Online Content Editor at CapitalXTRA.com. My day-to-day job revolves around creating content for the website, manning the station’s social media channels, filming and editing interviews and being a liaison between online and on-air.

Thankfully, I can genuinely say that I love it. Exciting dynamics come with working for a radio station’s website, as oppose to a stand-alone one. I work with everyone from the station’s schedulers and commercial team, to the presenters and producers and the SEO and social media managers.

Most of the time I’m working at a desk, off a laptop, but a large part of my job also means I’m often in the studio feeding the presenters the latest music news, filming interviews with celebrity guests that come in or brainstorming with colleagues about how we can evolve.

When I look back at my year (or two) – all the applications, the phone-calls, the interviews, the hopping from internship to internship or company to company (and back again), there is one thing that sticks in my mind. Interestingly, it’s a passage from Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stamford University speech, which is very relevant to jobseekers and really holds some key advice.

He said: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

Of course, or in my opinion anyway, you can’t rely on ‘gut,’ ‘karma’ and ‘destiny’ alone. Hard work, perseverance and a positive attitude mean everything. But I think any stressed-out journo grad that hasn’t had the smooth path of bagging an entry-level job or a place on a grad scheme should bear Jobs’ guidance in mind.

Don’t worry too much about the five-year, one-year or even six-month plan. Take – and make – the opportunities that you can and smile to your past self when you eventually connect the dots back.

Follow us on Twitter @JournoGrads and like us on Facebook to stay up to date with the latest jobs and internships

 

Why You Shouldn’t Settle For ‘Any Job’

Michaela Walters At The Hangover 3 Premiere

Perks of the job: Michaela Walters at The Hangover 3 premiere

Graduate Michaela Walters explains how staying the course helped her make the transition from intern to content assistant at a leading publisher…

Finally! The days of pulling my hair out and holding back tears as 50-somethings repeat the words “there are plenty of jobs out there” are over.

“Why should I settle for just any job?” I would respond. And it’s what I genuinely thought – why should any of us desperate journo job-hunting grads simply settle?

So for six months I’ve gritted my teeth, repeating those four words to myself – “why should I settle?” – with the desperate hope that one day I could say I was right not to.

Like many journo grads, I moved from one internship – at Capitalfm.com – straight on to another, at Hearst Magazines, working on Best Magazine.

I bagged a placement just as the brand was not only going through a complete relaunch but also as the company was launching its first website.

Whilst interning at Capital FM I learnt skills that helped me stand out against other applicants. It’s only looking back that I have realised what great skills they were – and so I now appreciate how important it is to soak every little bit of learning up, no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time.

Working on a brand new website has been very different from working on an established one like Capital’s, but with newness comes fresh opportunity.  My editor made clear from the onset that “any suggestion goes,” so it was up to me to put those skills I had learnt, and my ideas, forward.

Thankfully, I must have done something right. After two months interning at Hearst, I am now a fully-fledged, full-time Content Assistant at Best Magazine – and I love it.

My day-to-day job revolves mainly around writing content for Best’s website, looking after their social media channels and my editor has also pushed me to write for the magazine – from showbiz and features to a weekly reviews page that I am responsible for. Who says they are all like Miranda Priestly?

I’m also lucky enough to enjoy all of the perks that working on a women’s lifestyle magazine offers, including  receiving free beauty products to attending film screenings – I even got the chance to walk the red carpet with (OK, near) Bradley Cooper at the Hangover 3 premiere – how could a girl complain about that?

It’s a real blessing to be exposed to so many different aspects of the industry, and to be around people that I can learn so much from as I continue to develop.

I’ve also kept in touch with the people from Capital FM and a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be asked back to freelance during the Summertime Ball, live-blogging from backstage.

So, it’s the moral of the story – in the end, hard work pays off.

And now, there will be no more teeth gritting, my hair is thicker than ever and shares in Kleenex have dramatically decreased. Finally, I can say that I was right to not settle for another job.

Have you found work as a direct result of interning at a company? How long did it take you, and what advice would you share? Leave a comment below, or join in the conversation on Twitter @JournoGrads

Unpaid Internships: Fighting To Succeed

Michaela Walters

Michaela Walters has interned at several leading media organisations

Are unpaid internships acceptable? Graduate and intern Michaela Walters picks apart the pros and cons…

If interning is the battle that everyone starting out in the industry faces, unpaid interning is the war.

There’s no right answer as to whether you should or shouldn’t work for nothing – everyone’s position is different. Some simply can’t afford to and it’s for that reason that I don’t believe unpaid internships are right.

Everyone deserves an equal chance and no one should miss out on an opportunity because they can’t afford it.

But unfortunately, sometimes in wars sacrifices need to be made – and although ultimately I don’t believe unpaid internships are right, I’ve often found myself leaving my morals at home and heading in to the trenches.

The truth is, it seems almost impossible to make a start in this industry without one.  Getting a good internship can be as competitive as getting an actual job.

If you’ve just graduated and feel you have a lot to learn, a few months’ experience (even if it is unpaid) is a good thing.

What’s important though is making the distinction between when an unpaid internship is worthwhile and when it isn’t.

As someone who’s been on the front line (and in danger of developing a severe case of trench foot), here’s where I suggest drawing the line:

If you’re not doing enough

Grabbing your boss’s morning coffee is fine – but if your day consists of making coffee, running across town to pick up some dry cleaning and photocopying for the rest of the afternoon, you’re in no man’s land – and that’s never a good idea.

If you’re there just so you can put ‘X’ on your CV, that’s not good enough either. You need to be sure that when you leave your internship you’re better prepared for the working world than you were beforehand. Intern to learn!

If you’re doing too much

The alternative is to be in an internship where you are learning loads, working with great people and finally getting so confident in your ability that before you know it, you’re working a full time, self-dependant job (and being bloody good at it) for little or no money.

The situation might be reversed but the outcome is the same – if you aren’t learning, you aren’t benefiting. Intern to learn!

Make sure your employer is happy to teach you

Of all the frustrating situations possible to find yourself in whilst interning, for me, the most frustrating one by far is at the application stage.

You know, when you see the job description that reads ‘we are looking for an experienced intern…’ As far as I’m concerned, the very definition of ‘intern’ is to be inexperienced.

Employee seekers – if you’re looking for someone experienced, you should be hiring for a full time, fully paid, job! I’ll say it again – intern to learn.

I hope that if you’re a year behind me in your journalism journey, I’ve been able to shed some light on what’s worth considering whilst making internship decisions.

For me the line has been drawn, but I spent over four months altogether in unpaid internships, all of which I really enjoyed and feel I benefited from – so it’s not all doom and gloom.

Draw a line that suits you and make sure you stay on the right side of it, if you do, the war is won.

What do you think about unpaid internships? Are they exploitation, or a necessary first step on the career ladder? Join the debate with us on Twitter @Journograds. You can read more from Michaela here

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 Capitalfm.com 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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