Pursuing your dream job in journalism can be daunting, particularly in today’s cut-throat media industry. Leni Andronicos, online editor for MTV, says work experience is key: “Employers generally value experience in the role more than a university degree.”
Get in touch with your favourite brands, magazines or websites; it’s a great way to start. Ask them what work experience or internship programs they offer – and be persistent. If you can’t get through via email, phone. If you can’t get through over the phone, Leni says there is no harm in going into the office and expressing your interest. While you “might start off doing the coffee run”, she believes it’s all worth it when you finally see your byline published in your favourite magazine or website.
Interning gives you a chance to gain more experience in writing and using digital platforms. It also enables you to build contacts in the industry and gives you the opportunity to learn how to write for different audiences. “While I was studying, I took up a number of internships with companies like Miss Unkon and Tangent magazine and spent two years working for free and building up experience,” says Leni.
Leni got her big break when she was studying in Queensland: she was contracted by Ninemsn to edit a beauty and fashion website for two months. When that contract ended she was offered a permanent position as online editor for Dolly magazine. During her three years at Dolly she had the opportunity to contribute editorially to sites like Grazia, Harper’s Bazaar and Cleo, which she insists was a vital step in her career. “[That] gave me the opportunity to learn how to write for different audiences and how to tailor editorial for a particular reader and brand.”
Her latest venture is working as online editor for MTV. “Doing what I love and getting paid for it. I still pinch myself everyday… It doesn’t feel like work.
“Being in the same room as musicians I follow or celebrities I fangirl over is also pretty cool too!”
Being well rounded in skills is necessary when working in the online world. Unlike a newspaper or magazine that might have as many as 100 employees, online media can be run by just a handful of staff. MTV.com.au is run by only four people, including Leni. She researches, produces, edits and publishes stories that go online. Deadlines are hourly as opposed to daily or weekly and her position can require her to work around the clock. “The online world never sleeps,” she says.
Whether you aim to work online or in print, investing time in a blog is priceless experience. Not only will it give you practice in using a digital platform, your blog can also be used as a portfolio to present work to prospective employers. “Write about content you’re interested about. If you want to be an editor at MTV, write about the latest celebrity and music news. If you want to work for Harper’s Bazaar, report on runway shows,” Andronicos says.
As for the future of journalism, she believes online will eventually lead the way. “I think magazines will eventually migrate fully onto digital platforms, with digital editions of the magazines being sold instead.” While she expects job cuts from print, she believes the jobs lost will be recreated in the online world. – Paige Ahearn