Journalism and publishing career guide

Gaining experience

Journalism & Publishing

Getting your first job within journalism and publishing can be tough – more people want to work in the business than there are jobs available and entry level jobs are rarely advertised. Employers, keen to attract the brightest talent, can therefore afford to look for people who have some practical experience as well as relevant qualifications and genuine enthusiasm. For this reason alone undertaking some relevant experience is invaluable. Work experience can be paid or unpaid, undertaken during holidays, through a degree module or as temporary employment alongside studies.

On this page you will find the types of work experience opportunities to consider, where you might find these, and top tips to help you secure some valuable experience!

Types of opportunities

Internships are short term work experience opportunities, usually over vacation periods. A small number of large publishing companies offer summer internships, which may lead to a graduate position for successful recruits.

Other book publishing companies offer work experience/internship-type opportunities, it is a good idea to research individual companies to identify these; some examples of larger publishers offering these opportunities include:

You might also find internship opportunities in journalism and publishing at the following websites:

Find out more about internships

Placements will give you a long-term look at an organisation, and help you to build contacts and experience. On some degrees work placements are part of the programme, whilst on others you can choose to complete a placement as one of your modules. Many courses at the University of Portsmouth enable you to complete a one year work placement or self-employment placement; should you choose to undertake either, your first point of contact is your placement office in your faculty.

Search for advertised placements at:


Learn more about taking a placement


Many students who study journalism choose to take a Self-Employed Placement. This allows you to work for yourself during your placement year and receive support from the University's Student Startup Team. You will have access to funding opportunities, networking events and workshops.

Learn more about Self-Employed Placements 

It is worth considering the voluntary sector for work experience - this could be a valuable way to build up your skills and knowledge in this field. Our Volunteering Bank provides local opportunities to undertake alongside your studies, listing roles such as:

  • Digital News Assistant Volunteer with Portsmouth City Council

  • Online Reviewer Volunteer with Together in the UK

  • Content and Copywriter Volunteer with Toucan Diversity Training

Learn more about our Volunteering Team

Create your own experience

In this sector, you could always 'create your own' work experience, by writing a blog, or contributing to university publications such as the Spyglass Magazine.

Producing your own blog will demonstrate your writing and editing skills as well as digital skills that are key in this sector. Just remember, whatever you are doing online, keep it up to date and professional - you want to ensure you are presenting yourself to the outside world, as you would wish to be seen.

Joining a local writers' group may help you to develop your writing skills. New Writing South is an active group and offers events, courses and the opportunity to mix with writers and to share writing.

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Speculative applications

Whilst advertised internships or work experience opportunities may be limited and highly competitive, a good number of students secure work experience in this sector through speculative applications. These involve sending a CV and cover letter to an employer to ask if they can offer any work experience, even if the company is not currently advertising placements or internships. Submitting a speculative application shows your interest in a specific company and your willingness to go above and beyond to develop your skills and understanding of the industry. 


Find out more about speculative applications




Top tips when searching for work experience

  • Explore the various areas within the journalism and publishing sector before you apply for work experience; knowing what you want to specialise in will help you focus your research and ensure you gain the relevant skills.
  • The key to success is to prepare thoroughly, do your research and organise your experience in good time. Think about small and medium size publications as well as major publications.
  • Be proactive and make direct contact with publications that interest you and apply speculatively; send a targeted CV and a covering letter focused on why you are interested in them and why they should be interested in you.
  • News Associates, an NCTJ-accredited journalism school, run free journalism workshops that focus on gaining some practical task-based experience in a newsroom setting. You can register on their site which also provides careers advice, resources and information on their own courses.
  • Create a LinkedIn profile to network with sector employers – see our Networking and Social Media section for further guidance.
  • Remember to utilise any of your own personal experience that could interest an employer such as a personal blog or any contributions to online publications.
  • Working in a bookshop or volunteering in your local library will help you to find out what consumers think/want. You can learn how to write copy, what is selling, and what competing publishers are doing.


Making the most of your experience

If you are lucky enough to secure an internship or organised work experience in the sector, make the most of it:

  • Ask lots of questions, to show that you are curious and observant.
  • Attend meetings, such as editorial meetings, to increase your visibility and help you to understand how editors think. If you are not invited to meetings, ask for the chance to observe.
  • Pitch your own stories. This will show initiative and give you the chance to write about something that’s interesting to you, and might allow you to work with people who are not in your allocated work area.
  • Find mentors – take advantage of talented colleagues, build as many relationships as you can during your internship, remember working in this sector is all about contacts.
  • Create copies of your stories and articles during your internship, these will be useful references.



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