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Careers: Try Before You Buy

At university I studied to be a journalist. I’m not quite sure how or why I wound up studying journalism, but I enjoyed every single minute of it. During my second year I really started pushing the work experience aspect of things – my tutors told me there’d never be a better opportunity to get under the skin of employers without actually having to work for them as a permanent employee.


I spent two years on and off completing work experience at some of the UK’s biggest newspaper titles – the best two years of my life. I’d set myself the target of getting a front page story at some point in time – that was the goal (I couldn’t really think of anything better/grander). Halfway through my second year of work experience I smashed the goal – I got a front page story. I got another one soon after (although I opted for my by-line to be removed).

After getting two front page stories I couldn’t really see anywhere else for me to go as a journalist – even though I was still on work experience. As much as I loved it, I didn’t like the near poverty in which a lot of graduate journalists lived in. It wasn’t for me. I packed my bags and left the world of journalism.

Application Process for Work Experience in Journalism

Before you start thinking about spending hours on end every day applying for hundreds of different jobs, I’m of the belief that everyone should complete work experience. The vast majority of companies will only take you on a work experience placement if you’re still in college or university. Instead of spending every night getting wasted, you should think seriously about how you’re going to find work experience opportunities during your studies. There will never be a better time.

Applying for work experience in the world of journalism doesn’t tend to follow a set procedure – it tends to be a case of plucking up the courage to email (or hound) editors and journalists to ask if there are any work experience vacancies available. Don’t go sending work experience requests to the news desk of your local paper – send them to a real person. Take a few minutes to find the email address for the editor or sub editor of the publication – Journalisted.com is a good place to start. Lots of journalists will suffix their articles with their email address too. Be warned that some publications offer work experience but there’s a long waiting list – it took me three years to get a placement at The Times (but it was well worth it!).

Application Process for Getting a Job

Getting a permanent job in the world of journalism is extremely difficult. If you built up a good portfolio of published work during your degree, you might be able to apply for any vacant reporter roles, providing you have the NCTJ qualification under your belt. If you have a sparse portfolio and you don’t have the NCTJ qualification, you’ll have to apply for graduate schemes. Most newspapers run these schemes, but places are extremely limited (ie, most top titles recruit one or two people on these schemes each year). Competition is fierce to say the least – so ideally you should have an impressive portfolio behind you. The other way into the world of journalism is to become a freelancer upon graduation – you then have the opportunity to really impress the titles you freelance for in the hope they decide to offer you a permanent staff job.

What I learnt

Before I went to university I completed work experience in a garage. I knew immediately that working in a garage was not for me. The long days and constantly being covered in oil and grime really put me off. Contrast that with journalism where I had a whale of a time. Work experience is the best possible way to “try before you buy”. Before you go all out to secure a job in your desired industry, why not complete work experience there first to ensure it’s something you actually enjoy? I know people that have spent six months or more applying for jobs in a certain industry, only to find they absolutely hate it when they do find employment.

Job application forms and interviews all take time to complete. You need to be 100% sure you’re applying for the right job in the right industry. Whilst you’re in university it’s essential that you “try before you buy” with as many careers as possible, ensuring you end up doing something you genuinely enjoy.

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About the author: Written by Adam Grunwerg, founder and editor of the graduate careers advice and jobs website Graduates.co.uk.


Syntax Checking Test Practice For Information Technology Job Assessments

Syntax Checking Test Practice Sample - JobTestPrep's Blog

We have recently added new Syntax Checking tests to our IT/Engineering packs.

Syntax checking tests are usually used in Information Technology job assessments. SHL for example, offer employers the Information Technology Test Series (ITTS), which is targeted at sifting through prospective IT staff and includes a set of syntax checking questions.


In these tests, basic programming language rules are given, and the examinee is asked to spot errors in the code. No prior knowledge of programming is required to solve these tests, but computer oriented candidates are probably going to find it easier.


IBM’s IPAT test also includes some Syntax Checking related question types, but those are slightly different and more difficult. Those uniquely styled questions appears in our IPAT practice pack.


Learn more about Syntax Checking tests here >>

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