ITV Scheme: From Trainee To Journalist

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ITV Tyne Tees journalist Katie Oakes films musician Example backstage at a gig in Newcastle

Katie Oakes describes how earning a place on the ITV news trainee scheme helped her launch a career in journalism…

Looking around the Tyne Tees newsroom as I write this, I can see five former trainees (including myself) working as production journalists, reporters, correspondents or news editors.

I may be slightly biased, but the ITV traineeship is one of the best ways of getting into TV journalism – and staying here.

When I applied for the scheme, I was working for a weekly newspaper on Merseyside, and had no broadcast experience at all.

I’d never been in a broadcast newsroom and, although it was always something I’d considered, I had been focused on print. However, I knew I wanted to be a journalist in whatever form I could, so I took all the opportunities that came along.

The ITV assessment day is, as you would imagine, nerve-wracking and challenging. But remember, if you get to that stage, you’re in the top 30 out of about 800 applicants – so go in with a bit of confidence!

The best advice I got was to be myself from the outset. You’re there for a full day so by the end of it, they will have worked out what you’re like anyway!

Essentially they’re looking for someone who’s passionate about news, has good news judgement, and who also has an opinion about the stories of the day. You also need to communicate well and have a few story ideas up your sleeve.

Oh – and if they point a camera at you, smile. I can guarantee the picture will come back to haunt you!

During the scheme, I spent a few months based at Granada in Manchester, learning how to produce bulletins and edit, before moving to Tyne Tees in Gateshead, where the focus turned towards reporting. That involved training courses in editing, writing, producing, reporting and self-shooting at almost every ITV newsroom in the country.

We also had placements at Westminster, ITN and a week at Daybreak, experiencing what it was like to work every shift over a 24-hour period. Exhausting.

A highlight from ITN was definitely Alastair Stewart introducing a package I had done for ITV London on the lunchtime news – I never thought that would happen within ten months of joining ITV!

But that’s one of the best things about the scheme – the speed that you pick up new skills and the responsibility you’re allowed to take on from an early stage.

It’s as fast-paced as it sounds, and there’s an awful lot to learn – especially if you’re starting from scratch.

But the huge advantage is learning from some of the best journalists in the country. And you’re never in a training centre, but in the middle of busy, working newsrooms.

You’ll build up contacts across the country, so there’s always someone to ask if you get stuck, and from what I’ve found, people are more than happy to help.

At the end of the traineeship, I applied for, and got, a production journalist job at Tyne Tees, based in Gateshead.

I now produce the bulletins across the day and weekends for both Tyne Tees and Border, as well as running the website.

I also report on a regular basis, both on stories I have brought in myself, and on-the-day news.

The traineeship prepares you really well not only for the job you’ll hopefully get when you finish the scheme, but also the job you hope to do in the future, whether that’s reporting, news editing or producing the programme.

Katie Oakes is an ITV news journalist based at ITV Tyne Tees. You can follow her on Twitter, @katieoakes

Contacts ‘Invaluable’ In Getting First Job

Artur at CNN

Artur at the CNN headquarters in London

After a three-month internship at CNN, Artur Osinski has secured a role as a freelance production assistant at the company. What advice does he have?

Usually, when you start an internship, you think about one of the following scenarios: either you treat it as means of improving your CV and getting experience without planning on staying on after, or you’re aiming for full-time employment at that particular company.

Regardless of your approach, you should do your absolute best and impress as much as possible. After all, a good reference cannot be overrated.

At the beginning of my internship I was assured by Richard Quest that it was perfectly possible to land a freelance position after the work experience if I did really well.

This wasn’t part of an empty motivational speech that all interns receive – it was a fact that became clear by the many people working in the newsroom who told me they too had started as interns.

I spent half of the time as an intern working for the Connect the World and Quest Means Business shows and the other half with the news desk. I received positive feedback from both, but that still didn’t guarantee anything. A bit of luck is always necessary – you may be a great intern, but if there’s no vacancy going, there isn’t much you can do.

I mentioned in one my of earlier posts that it was incredibly important to make contacts everywhere, whenever possible – the fact I worked in two different parts of the newsroom helped a lot in this respect, as it meant I met many people.

Good contacts proved invaluable and I was introduced to a senior producer who needed a new freelance production assistant – my timing was fortunate and I secured the role after having proven myself as an intern.

By securing the position, my first mission of remaining at CNN post-internship has been accomplished. It is freelance, but that’s a start, especially if you are able to get regular shifts. If you follow this approach then you are likely get rewarded with both higher pay and more responsibility.

At the moment my main duty is operating the auto-cue – which may not sound that glamorous, but it’s a great first step. I also get the opportunity to contribute to writing the presenters’ scripts and producing the images that appear in programmes such as Connect The World.

Hopefully some of the tips I shared in my previous posts will help give you some ideas on how to make the most of your internships so that you can secure paid work at the end. Good luck in your job hunt!

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

Out And About As A News Desk Intern

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Not all suit and ties – Artur Osinski out collecting GVs for a package on the construction of a new port

What’s it like working at the news desk of an international TV broadcaster? In his latest post, journo grad Artur Osinski talks about the second leg of his internship at CNN…

After my stint with Quest Means Business and Connect the World, I am now well and truly immersed in the operations of the busy CNN news desk.

The day starts with an editorial meeting at 9am, where representatives of every department and programme gather to discuss the news agenda.

During this we connect with our different bureaus via a video conference call. This is a fantastic experience where you get to see journalists from all around the world (Hong Kong, Dubai, Atlanta, Abu Dhabi and Johannesburg) sharing stories and shaping CNN International’s coverage of news.

My duties throughout the day are in many aspects similar to the ones I had in the programmes part of my internship, such as research, transcribing and contacting people for interviews. I do, however, get the opportunity to go out more often for shoots as well.

Sometimes I accompany reporters, whereas other times I am out there by myself with the cameraman. In these scenarios my role is to help the channel in any capacity possible. This means being the link between the outside world and the news desk – whether this is making sure it’s clear what shots we need, liaising with any PR officials on the spot and getting vox pops.

After we come back from a shoot, I’m then responsible for making sure the footage is ingested into the system. As always in television, there is a constant fight with deadlines to make sure all the material is in on time to get to air.

The job can be very varied at times. I’ve covered press conferences for political stories (including one held by the Foreign Secretary William Hague and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry), I’ve been to the headquarters of Eidos in London (creators of the famous Lara Croft game Tomb Raider) and to the building site of a new deep-sea port (see picture above).

One morning I watched Becky Anderson interviewing former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the father of Malala Yousafzai, while in the evening I accompanied her on live stand-ups outside the O2 Arena during a Justin Bieber concert.

One of the personal highlights of my time at the news desk came almost at the beginning, when a story broke of a diamond heist at the Brussels airport. No-one could reach the airport’s spokesman, but through perseverance I managed to get to him through his office and was able to confirm various crucial facts.

My information was used on the CNN wires and an hour later the network interviewed the spokesman live on air. After that the information I’d gathered was used in an article for CNN’s website, which you can read here.

Perhaps the ultimate pat on the back was the e-mail I received from the supervising editor saying I’d done a good job.

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

CNN Intern: Passion Is ‘Most Important’

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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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