How do you get work experience in the media?


How do you get work experience in the media?!! It’s so hard! All I do is keep sending off applications - and all I keep getting back is rejections!!! … little help please!!!


Expect lots more rejections! That’s just the way it is! Sign up to productionbase if you’re interested in television/film work. You need to make sure you get the vital first piece of experience. You will just need to keep applying left right and centre. Don’t expect to paid for it but it will likely lead onto other things!

Also apply using the BBC work experience section on their website. They receive many thousands of applications a month but you should still try.

  1. Think small as well as big - nothing wrong with going for the BBC, ITV or a big national paper, but don’t rule out smaller local papers/stations etc. as they are more likely to be in need of an extra pair of hands. It will also be easier after a while - if you work hard - to build a good reputation and stick in the minds of a local media outlet than a bigger, more faceless one.

  2. Set out in your letter why you want to do work experience specifically for them - not just why you you want to do work experience ‘in the media’ as that’s such a broad designation. Make it look like you are focused and determined, not just an idle chancer.

  3. Set out why you think you could help them and why they could benefit from having you around for that time - the fact that they don’t have to pay you shouldn’t be the only reason! Back it up with examples of any relevant experience you can think of (college/university newspaper or radio station, experience of webcasts, membership of student film-making societies).

  4. Strike a good balance in your application letter between being firm and confident, but at the same time polite. They get loads of letters asking for work experience every day, and your letter is the first impression they get of you.

  5. Don’t make it look like you’ve just compiled a template/generic letter (even if you have - not that I’ve ever done that, of course… ahem.) Phone ahead and ask for the name of the person who deals with work experience applications, then send it to them personally.

  6. Don’t be embarrassed to chase it up - there’s obviously a fine line between determination and harassment, but calling fairly informally to ask if they got your letter and how long you can expect to wait for a response is reasonable.

That’s about all I can think of off the top of my head. The only other bit of advice is work your arse off if anyone gives you something - if you get to know and impress the right people, particularly in small enough outlets, it can lead to the odd bit of paid casual work here and there. All of which is good for the CV!


Unfortunately this type of profession is notoriously difficult to break into. If you want to stand a good chance, then your best hope is to get as widespread experience as you can, before applying for paid jobs.

Getting work experience in the media is itself certainly hard, but there are ways to do it. Like getting a paid job, you may find you have to start at the bottom when looking for unpaid ones.

To say there is no point in applying for placements at, say, the BBC would be wrong: If you want to get into media then you should certainly try it. But you should also remember the sheer numbers of people who apply for these roles. The BBC states on their website that they “receive in excess of 20,000 applications each year”. Because of this, they are likely only to take the most outstanding of applicants.

Have you considered working on smaller local publications? Regional newspapers and radio stations will often be interested in hearing from people willing to lend a free hand.

If you’re still unsure, it’s worth remembering that Radio One’s Chris Moyles began his career DJing on hospital and ‘TopShop’ radio stations.

One last tip is to avoid email if you can. A smart looking letter or confident phone call is far more interesting to any potential employer. If you have to email, make the ‘subject’ of the email interesting and relevant: there’s less chance of it simply being deleted. And don’t be afraid to chase up applications - if you want a career in media, a bit of boldness is never a bad thing.

Good luck.


Why don’t you post your details on the guardian’s new media forum for jobs - they have a section there for work experience - you never know someone reading it might have a place for you.