Former BJW student lands celebrity writing role for Huff Post site

9 11 2012

Former BJW student Ellen Stewart has been celebrating after landing her dream job writing about celebs for the Huffington Post’s gossip and style site – and credits Brighton Journalist Works for opening the door for her through work experience.

But, as she explains, it didn’t just fall into her lap and she had to knuckle down and get on with interning for a year before she bagged the job.

Said Ellen: “I always wanted to work in women’s lifestyle media, and although a notoriously hard sector to crack I kept at it and finally all my work (and tea-making) landed me my dream job.

“The past year has been tough at times, but completely worth it. I got my foot through the door at Hearst magazines when BJW set me up on work experience on the subs desk at Esquire, and it all kicked off from there.

“Luckily my parents live at the heart of it all in London and I’ve been living rent-free. The majority of my internships were expenses-only, however, a few stints of paid work and setting myself up as a freelance sub meant I could make ends meet.

“Employers have been impressed with the amount of work I’ve managed to squeeze into a year so my advice to others trying to break into this industry is to keep at it, stay positive, and say yes – no task is ever too big or too small!”

Congratulations Ellen, we are utterly delighted with your news.

Outstanding work experience helped Sarah Morgan get a job at Elle Decoration

16 08 2012

Making a good impression during work experience can pay dividends for journalism students, as Brighton Journalist Works graduate Sarah Morgan discovered after her placement at Esquire magazine.

When a sub-editor vacancy came up at Esquire’s sister publication Elle Decoration, members of the production team at Esquire encouraged Sarah to apply for the post.

Sarah said:

“I was recommended to apply by the subs at Esquire and was told at Elle Decoration that I did the best in the subbing test (out of candidates who were more experienced than me), so the Production Journalism course and my work placement clearly gave me the skills I needed.

“I think I was quite a quick worker and always asked for things to do, which I did to show my enthusiasm but it seemed to act as a reminder that I was getting through things quickly.

“I read the pages I was given through very thoroughly and would then look at the paragraph to see if I needed to move any words around to even up the alignment/get rid of ‘I’s on the end of lines.

“I was recommended for the job in the first week but assume I did well in the second week, too. I felt much more comfortable going in and picking up things to work on.

“To be honest it was very lucky that I was there when a vacancy was open.

“I would advise anyone on work experience to absorb as much of the feedback and edits to their work as possible, because the reason I got the top mark in the subbing test at Elle decoration (which got me the job) was that I had worked on pages the week before and watched how the other subs moved copy around and cut it.

“In terms of interviews, researching the publication is really important – if it’s a magazine look up the rate card as that has information on the circulation, competitors and readers.

“I wanted to thank Brighton Journalist Works for setting up the work experience placements – I think my recommendation from Esquire was the reason I got through to the first round of interviews.”

Top tips onhow to stand out on work experience:

  1. Listen to feedback from mentors.
  2. Show you are enthusiastic about the work.
  3. Make yourself useful.

Sarah isn’t the first BJW student to land a job after impressing senior editors while on work experience placement.

Scarlett Wrench learned the lingo and worked hard to land a job at Men’s Health magazine.

In her blog post My work experience got me a job – here’s how Scarlett gives seven points of advice on how to succeed on a work experience placement.

My work experience got me a job – here’s how

7 11 2011

By Scarlett Wrench

When I turned up for my first day at Brighton Journalist Works I still wasn’t completely sure what ‘subbing’ involved. I think I even tried to change the font size on the first piece I worked on, to try to make the copy fit. I was working as a waitress at the time, writing for a couple of local papers on the side — and just excited about the prospect of a job where I didn’t come home smelling of beer and gravy every day.

Eight very short months later I’ve been offered the junior sub-editor position at Men’s Health magazine, and I honestly can’t wait to get to work every morning. You don’t need a degree or years of work/life experience under your belt — just a lot of enthusiasm and an eagerness to learn. So for those of you who think subbing may be your thing, here’s the best advice I have for you… bearing in mind that I am still very new to this!

1. Read the magazine before you start your work-experience placement. Really read it. And think like a sub while you do so — look at the heads, sells and picture captions. Take note of whether they are funny, informative, a smart play on words or straight to the point. Ask yourself who buys this magazine, and what they expect to gain from reading it.

2. Find out who works there and what they do. Not just the editor and the chief sub, but the creative director, features editor, the head of the fashion team… You’ll save yourself a lot of time if you know who to address your questions to.

3. Read the style guide and try to memorise as much of it as you can. Do they favour “learnt” or “learned”, m-dashes or n-dashes? Is it “photographs by” or “photography by”?

4. Fact-check absolutely everything. Names, places, statistics. And if you read anything that doesn’t make sense, ask someone. No one will think you’re stupid. They’ll just think you’re thorough.

5. Brush up on your spelling and grammar. That’s not to imply that you have to be some sort of grammar wizard to get a job, but it helps to know the difference between “which” and “that” and how to use a hyphen correctly.

6. Learn the language, so when people start talking about folios, flatplans and ABC figures you’ll know what they’re on about. Take the one-week Business of Magazines course if you can, or if not, ask Paula or Dinah very nicely if you can look at a copy of the ‘key terms’ sheet.

7. Have confidence in yourself and your opinions. I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but your opinions matter. If something doesn’t look right, doesn’t read well, doesn’t make sense or doesn’t sit comfortably with the tone of the magazine then tell someone — whether the piece was written by the former editor, a celebrity panelist or the work-experience student is irrelevant. Everyone makes mistakes and it’s the sub’s job to flag them up.

Internship at Esquire magazine – what’s it like?

9 06 2011

When I recommend a magazine article to a friend, I don’t think twice about praising the writer. After all, it’s their by-line and their hard work.
After a visit to Brighton Journalist Works, today, esquire by Esquire Chief Sub-editor Jeremy White, I’ll consider this more carefully before I give credit solely to the author.
So much of what appears on the pages of a magazine is down to the creativity and hard work of the sub-editors. They are unsung heroes without whom the magazine would never get to print.
Essentially, the publication of the magazine is in the sub-editor’s hands.
Subs have to be funny and creative while still having the ability to seamlessly cut copy that has been put in front of them. Far from simply being grammar and spell checkers, sub-editors are responsible for the layout of each page, ensuring the articles are factually correct and complying with the publication’s style.
Jeremy advocated the benefits that come with spending a few years as a freelance sub-editor. Working on different publications gives a sub-editor the opportunity to learn new styles and also to cherry-pick the best of these styles to make them a better, more sought after sub-editor.
He also made the prospect of work experience at Esquire sound simultaneously exciting and scary. No tea-making duties here; student journalists are put straight to work alongside the subbing team. It’s a daunting thought that headlines and copy produced during work experience will end up in the finished magazine.

However, it’s also an amazing portfolio opportunity and not to be missed.
By Greer Robertson

Roxy Freeman: From nervous newcomer to Guardian cover story

15 03 2010

As I walked through the doors for my first day at Brighton Journalist Works in February 2009, the sight of the desks and chairs filled me with panic and it occurred to me that my solitary existence as an Open University student was over.

No more sitting on my own with my books night after night, this class was rammed full of smart, confident students with opinions and questions in abundance.

Over the next ten weeks, with the fastidious guidance of Paula, Richard, Matt and Pete, my knowledge of journalism went from nothing to fairly comprehensive.

At times it was really tough; I doubted not only my abilities but also my motivation. I had invested quite lot of time and money in the course but it was all on a bit of whim. I had no intention of being a news reporter and wasn’t even sure I wanted to work in the press. I just liked writing and wanted to improve my skills in the shortest time possible.

I never doubted the expertise of my tutors, who were all superb in their field, but I had no faith in myself. I was surprised to get through the ten weeks and even more surprised to pass all the exams with a C or above.

The next few months involved a number of unpaid work placements and numerous rejection letters. I was starting to lose heart when I got offered an internship at The Guardian, followed by print opportunities in their various publications.

In September 2009 I wrote a cover story about my upbringing, for the Guardian’s G2 supplement. Following its publication, I pursued various avenues including a paid internship with The Copywriting Company in Brighton. The placement taught me the practical side of how to put my new-found skills to use and actually to make money through feature writing.

In December last year, I was approached by a highly respected publishing company who were keen for me to write a book. Once the initial fear and anxiety passed I threw myself into writing a memoir outline. The sample chapters and full proposal is now with my agent pending formal publication confirmation by the publisher.

Enrolling on the NCTJ course at Brighton Journalist Works was not only a nerve-wracking experience but a massive leap of faith. A year down the line I’m pleased to say it was one of the best leaps of my life. I’m now doing something I love and by the end on the 2010 I may well be a published author, I can’t ask for better than that.

Roxy Freeman’s memoir is due to be published later this year. Her website is