As a trainee on a local paper you might start the day making calls to police, fire and ambulance contacts, write up the stories at your desk over lunch, spend the afternoon with a mix of golden weddings, retirements, and a vox pop in the high street and finish the day at a council committee meeting.
Then there are the unexpected events, from a house fire to a fatal car crash. Sooner or later you will have to go on a death knock, where you visit the home of someone who has died to talk to their spouse or family.
In the first few weeks you may shadow a more experienced reporter before going out and reporting on your one. Then you may be given a specific area or patch to cover. This is great training; it gets you into the habit of bringing in your own stories, forces you to meet and talk to a wide range of people, and underlines the importance of contacts.
As a trainee on a national newspaper you are likely to do your share of late and early shifts, bank holidays and Sundays. The advantage of these is that, if something major does break, you stand a good chance of covering it. Reputations can be made on such occasions.
You may also be able to work in specialist areas such business, sport, features or the diary, depending on your interests and aptitudes. This can give you an insight into which specialism you might like to pursue. You could get a chance to sample life as, for example, a political, science or health correspondent.
To improve your chances of getting a job, demonstrate you have a real interest in newspapers, and you have taken every opportunity to learn about them and work on them.
Editing or writing for school or university magazines is a good start and having work experience placements is another. And if you can show cuttings of stories you got into the paper – ideally with bylines – that would be great.
For more information about training click here.