Joe’s Crow Country

WORK experience is like going to the doctors. Sometimes painful, but does you good in the long run.

The two work experience students I have had here in the Crow office recently have brought back memories of my own placements.

I was fortunate enough to spend time at several established national titles while at school and university, all of which have bolstered my CV and provided me with knowledge about how the media world works.

But the vast majority of work experience time is spent being told to “sit tight” and waiting to be given whatever menial task is required of you.

My first placement was when I was 15. My dad has an auntie who has a friend who has a son who was the sports editor of the Sunday People. It’s who you know in this game.

I spent a wide-eyed week going to one of the top floors of Canary Wharf watching seasoned journalists rush around a newsroom, not really know what was going on.

I had expressed an interest in writing at this stage of my life but was too young to be firmly set on what I wanted to do.

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I did get to go to a press conference at West Ham United where their manager Glen Roeder looked at the rest of the journalists wondering who had brought their son along.

During my first year of university I blagged my way into a week long placement at celebrated music paper NME.

I wrote a reader’s letter to them expressing my fondness for a breakthrough rock band called Glasvegas. They didn’t print it, but responded saying they shared my views.

Seeing this as a possibly in-road, I wrote back telling them I was studying journalism and that I was interested in work experience. It was swiftly sorted out.

What I expected wasn’t quite what I got. I imagined rock stars stumbling in and out half drunk, the best new bands blasting from the stereo and freebies coming out of the walls.

In reality it was pretty much like any working office, with rows of computers and the gentle tap of keyboards.

My duties included handing out the post each morning, pointlessly surfing the internet for music news, making tea and chatting to the other two ‘workies’ who were just as bored as I was.

I just had to get through it though. I feel that a much-coveted placement at an institutional publication, however slow the clock ticked and however much I had to spend on the train there every day, has made my CV look that bit more shiny.

Plus, I did get to go to a free gig, had a review printed and was allowed to help myself to the CDs not deemed good enough for review at the end of the week.

My most recent placement was at FourFourTwo, one of the few quality football magazines available nationwide. Again, I got this through someone I “know” – this time my granddad’s friend’s son.

For most of the week, I was in an awkward situation where I had nothing to do and the full time staff knew I had nothing to do.

I didn’t want to seem like I was slacking-off so I regularly asked them if there was anything I could help with. Usually I was rebuffed with “sit tight, there should be something in a moment.”

I hope the placements here at the Crow weren’t put in that situation, though the inevitable boredom would have set in at one stage I’m sure. The CV will feel the benefit in the long-run.