Pay me! I don’t want work experience!

About a month ago I wrote nine fishing letters to various newspapers and media groups asking for casual work to help fund my MA at City. The fishing letter was very brief (only two paragraphs) but very concise in what it was asking for – ‘I will do pretty much anything if you pay me!’ I also attached my most up-to-date CV, which emphasised my work experience in the industry.

Two weeks ago I received a phone call from the Newsdesk secretary at a well-known tabloid inviting me to do some casual paid work for their News team. This had been a result of a letter I had directed to the CEO of its parent media company and had been redirected to the News Editor of its subsidiary paper.

My experience seems to go against the current trend for graduates trying to find a way into any industry, not only the struggling industry I am myself trying to get a ‘foot in the door’ in. A recent article by Tanya de Grunwald in The Guardian (read here) is the latest to report of exploited interns.

So here are my tips for getting casual paid work in the media:

  1. Send a letter, rather than an email, directly to the CEOs and editors of the newspapers and media companies you want to work for. Though you might think you’re trying to attract the attention of someone way above your station, it shows initiative and ambition. You never know who will pick up that letter and who they might pass it on to.
  2. Say you are prepared to work unsociable hours. Many media companies are laying off staff at the moment and have many under-staffed projects that they need help on. Though it might wreak havoc with your social life, being prepared to work unsociable hours shows a determined character – the sort of which they want to employ.
  3. Whoever picks up this letter will realise that in writing and searching for casual paid work you are showing the very credentials required to be successful in the industry, especially if you are a wannabe investigative journalist like me.

About Nick Petrie
Social Media & Campaigns Editor @TheTimes of London. Co-founder @Wannabehacks. Interested in communities, conversations, storytelling.

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