What to expect in your first journalism job

By Rebecca Bastable, bursary recipient, 2011/2012

I work for a local weekly newspaper and in the last three months since I’ve started my job, I’ve had a free kite surfing lesson, donned wellies to visit a dairy farm, interviewed a member of JLS over the phone, covered a high profile rape case, and spent a day on the beach reporting on a sandcastle competition.

Each day could not be more different, and that is the great thing about being a journalist. You are always getting to try new things, meet new people and learn stuff you thought you would never wish to know.

There is no job more diverse, and that is what is exciting about journalism. You never know what will be thrown at you next. Expect to jump in at the deep end, and to sometimes feel like you don’t quite know what you’re doing. Enjoy it and work as hard as you can, and in theory nothing can go wrong.

When I started my NCTJ course, I didn’t think I would end up on a local paper: I just knew I wanted to be a journalist. But now I would never turn back. Where else could you cover such a wide range of stories, and meet so many interesting people?

Be prepared to upset people occasionally, and get the odd crazy ranting down the phone at you. You’ll never be able to please everyone, and your more controversial stories will inevitably upset someone.

Expect to have to do death knocks. They are awful, but part of the job. I think most of the time people want to pay tribute to a loved one, but expect to have the door slammed in your face at some point.

Always be prepared for things to happen half an hour before deadline. Having a phone call from the police saying they’d just shut down a crack den, in the last place in the world you’d expect one to be, made working to deadline take on a whole new meaning.

But always expect to be surprised and expect to love your job, because journalism really is the best job in the world.