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For two weeks I would take part in two vastly different types of work experience. Week one would be at a very popular, national car magazine and the second placement would take place in a small local newspaper.This diary captures the experiences of a professional work environment for the first time as a journalist in busy London capital and a sleepy Midland city.

The first week I stayed in London with a friend.

My final day in London started out just like my first, getting off at the wrong stop. The train announcements suck on the South West train service around London. When pulling in to Strawberry Hill the tannoy announced “This is Teddington” and as I was in a different compartment of the train than usual I got off without recognising the platform. I started walking until I reached a sign stating where I was and attempted to run to the nearest train door, only for it to once again close in my face. Brilliant.

If this week has taught me anything it is to leave plenty of time in the morning should you face any issues.

As I was leaving directly form work to return to Leamington I had all my luggage: a suit, suitcase and laptop bag – each one packed so tight that it could burst open with dirty pants and socks if it was placed down too quickly. When I arrived I asked politely at reception “if there was any way, in my current predicament that someone as beautiful as yourself would be so kind as to assist me in ensuring safety with regards to my valuable and important belongings for merely a few hours before I have to jet off to another part of the country, struggling with said bags on tubes, trains and buses alike?”

No was the answer. I had to cram all the baggage beneath my desk and hope that no one steal them when my back is turned.

The day was ultimately quite boring. I continued to upload content to the new site, I spent some more time digging around in the wonderful archive for car reviews and tried writing one or two more news stories.

When I left, it was disappointingly unceremonial. I sent an email to the three top cheeses before I left thanking them for the week and only one, the one I spent the least amount of time with, messaged back. The other two gentlemen were very polite and perhaps too busy to take full notice, although one did congratulate me for wearing a tie the whole week and informed me that now I was leaving I could take it off, and in a metaphorical act, cleansing myself of the magazine I had worked for throughout the week, I did.

I dragged my suitcase, carried my suit and lumbered my laptop bag packed with even more stuff than I had managed earlier that morning and fought through Friday rush hour footfall through the centre of London to Marylebone. The train to take me home had not announced it’s platform yet so I grabbed myself a cup of tea and sat down at the nearest awful tea dispensing outlet. Little did I realise the hundred+ passengers standing underneath the giant digital screen were all anticipating the race to earn a seat in the final 100 yard dash to where the train would be boarding within seconds. When the platform was announced, an electric surge propelled the hundred+ people toward the platform with a force capable of waking Winston Churchill. By the time I had tidied my shit up and found my ticket at the bottom of a bag every seat had been taken. I took a risk, along with two other gentlemen who had missed the rush and sat in the rather spacious disabled passenger seat. If someone were to get on then of course I’d have no qualms getting up and I may be lucky as there were three seats so the disabled person may ask to sit there instead, and plus how many people do you see on a train requiring one of these positions?

There was one on Friday at least.

He had asked for assistance from a train conductor with his luggage and he naturally picked me to get up, leaving me tired and seatless for the 2 hour journey home.

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For two weeks I would take part in two vastly different types of work experience. Week one would be at a very popular, national car magazine and the second placement would take place in a small local newspaper.This diary captures the experiences of a professional work environment for the first time as a journalist in busy London capital and a sleepy Midland city.

The first week I stayed in London with a friend.

 

On the fourth day God created travel.

Getting to work is getting easy but despite the night in, I’m beginning to get rather tired of long hours travelling across London. If I ever get a job here, I will have to get an apartment one or two stops away on the tube. But it is easy.

To begin the day I was given the task of doing some work for the new website. All the content has to be re-uploaded before the site goes live and I had the pleasurable role of attaching images to stories one-by-one to ensure that they all fit correctly on to the page. A job I imagine most work experience bums have to sit through at some point.

After an hour or so of doing this, I was informed by one of the photographers that I would be helping him on a photo shoot. This meant I got to drive…

The two cars in particular were an original and the latest version of the BMW 3-series 320. Two pretty cool cars, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t give a damn about them.

We drove down to a place in Surrey where they film lots of things for movies and TV and we cheekily parked round the back to do some shooting. I first drove in the 2012 model, which is a diesel sport, and it was pretty incredible. It was so comfortable and the first thing I noticed was that the digital mph number was reflected on to the windscreen, directly where your eye points when looking at the road. This I thought is a must for every car, its so simple but so important to not have to take your eyes off the road.

The car was actually owned by the photographer himself and before I got in it, he called it his ‘baby’. I have never been more nervous driving a car. The bonnet was HUGE, much bigger than I’d ever driven before and I used to drive estate cars for a living as a travelling salesman. I was terrified driving past parked cars on the road or on narrow streets in case I clipped something going past.

Once we arrived at the destination the photographer set up and I was told to hold the flash while he did his thing. I felt like a bit of a tool standing there just holding a box and a light but these are the type of exciting things a work experience person gets to do I guess.

He then needed a few driving shots of the car and I wasn’t aware that the majority of moving photo shoots for cars in magazines are simply done on a roundabout. Honestly, the person driving the car just keeps driving in a circle and it’s the photographer that makes it look like it’s in different place. Top Gear doesn’t actually go to Vietnam or the North Pole, its all camera work*.

After taking plenty of images we parted ways. At this point I had to return the classic BMW back to the office and the photographer was going somewhere else to shoot in the midlands. The drive was beautiful and although the car lacked an impressive top speed, the fundamentals of the car were there. I will upload a story about that soon.

I returned back the apartment to throw on a suit and return out for the evening. The Oxford & Cambridge Club was my destination and to enter you had to wear a tie and suit jacket. The building was along Pall Mall, a beautiful Dickensian block where the rooms feature ceilings higher than some cliffs. After touring around through each room, upstairs, downstairs, every secret doorway made to look like a bookshelf, we spread out across 3 couches in one room, to fill less than 1% of it, and order some tea and scones. While we discussed politics, the budget and other things that floated in the stratosphere above my head I noticed a crusty old Oxbridge fellow sitting across the room from us reading a book titled ‘Blogging for Dummies’, I thought “right on, old dude, gowan wid yor bad self”.

At this point we headed for food in China Town where the crispy duck was cooked on the bone and removed from it right in front of you. The chow mein was one of the better ones I’d tasted and they served lychee juice, my favourite. A particular apt note was the choice of music this very traditional eastern restaurant played: American Country.

The evening was slightly dampened by the big city slickers on the table next to us. Three gentleman who thought they belonged on a pedestal, all close to the age of forty, all trying to one-up each other on ‘the chick they banged last night’. They were pathetic, lonely people who spent the whole night over-compensating for their miserable lives. “Welcome to London” I thought.

 

 

*This may be factually incorrect.

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For two weeks I would take part in two vastly different types of work experience. Week one would be at a very popular, national car magazine and the second placement would take place in a small local newspaper.This diary captures the experiences of a professional work environment for the first time as a journalist in busy London capital and a sleepy Midland city.

The first week I stayed in London with a friend.

 

 

I awoke with the same urgency as any man after a night of heavily spiced Bangladeshi curries and legged it to the toilet. This would become a recurring theme throughout the day.

With a little more preparation the night before, I was ready for the commute to the far west side of London slightly earlier today. The trains were all running to time and I never felt the urge to leap off in a moments panic. Oh no. I was now a veteran of the big city rush, I never had to pace, jog or run to any train.

I read an interesting comment piece in this morning’s Metro about people getting ready for work on the way to work and how there must be so much hair, plucked eyebrows, shaving remnants and nail clippings from a regular travellers morning routine before work flying around, we must be travelling in gross, unsanitary conditions. It may be simply because I read this article, but I certainly did notice a lot more people doing exactly this.

I arrived at work slightly early but with good intent. I completed the list of ideas for the facebook timeline from the day before and wrote a news item that I had found. This took a little under an hour, slightly longer than it took me to write the story from the day before. I had been asked to do the one from yesterday and I felt more pressure but today’s story was produced under appropriate conditions. instead of simply doing it I felt more pressured, more on that later.

I was then asked to fill out some car specifications on a road test article going in to next week’s magazine. This was far more complicated than just transferring data in to the correct column.

Of course I knew what none of this data meant so simply finding the right heading for the information to be published under was hard enough. I eventually found out that some of the information isn’t available in the press release and that I have to complete the boxes myself. How I was supposed to know how to calculate power to weight ratio or a car’s drag coefficiency rating I have no idea.

Much of the sheet was not filled in but I don’t think he was expecting me to be able to complete it as he asked me to make a list of what I couldn’t find so he can go back and do it. I haven’t received feedback on what I did or didn’t do well.

Some feedback that I did eventually get was one of the news stories I had written the day before. It turns out, it was shit. I took completely the wrong angle on the story and I let all my basic news-writing, upside-down pyramid techniques go out the window and it showed when he returned it to me. The piece was astonishingly awful. On the plus side, a different story I had written earlier in the day was put online, admittedly with a large amount of subbing but that is what sub-editors get paid to do. Still, I have to work on this.

Tomorrow it seems the picture editor is not in and I will be taking over a number of his duties. A large part of his job seems to be cropping images which I will hopefully have no problem doing as he showed me the ropes a little. A hugely interesting moment was being taken to the archives. The first car magazines even before the 1900’s were all bound and categorised in to large folders and books. I then continued my tour through a maze in to the image catalogue. Equally as colossal and just as precious, the printed images are stored in files of film that can be scanned on to the computer and in to a magazine.

On my way home I was due to meet Kyle and his workmates at his company pub quiz. My arrival was late and the quiz was in full flow, suitably enough as I would have otherwise stuck out like a short plump ugly child at a Nazi Youth camp. Not only did I not look the part being the only one not in an expensive high-powered suit, I quite clearly was not the intellectual match of the gentlemen that rounded out the quiz team. This lack of focused knowledge and expanse of general knowledge served me well in a pub quiz and when the team chose to ignore my request to change an answer (that would have been marked correctly) I got their attention. My moment came on the music round – where else? The theme was matching the song title to the artist with a colour in their name. Our team had 13/13 on this round that would be the catalyst to move us from a bottom-dweller to a respectable middle of the pack finisher.

At the close of the quiz Kyle offered me to view his office, it was the sky-scraper at the end of the street. In order to be let in I had to pass security clearance. At such a late hour there weren’t many heavies I had to fight pass. We then got in to the marble elevator to rise to the 35th floor. The office was an open plan with a 360-degree panoramic view of the city of London. Its walls were 100% glass and it provided views of St Paul’s Cathedral, the gherkin, the BT Tower, as well as ever other visible landmark you associate with the elite London power system.

Kyle’s friend offered to take us to the Cambridge and Oxford Club tomorrow, a toffs association similar to Wightes, an exclusive club full of aging pompous elitists, an opportunity that cannot be missed and may deserve an entirely unique blog post or feature at some point.

In the meantime I continued to enjoy the view as there are not many occasions that an artsy bugger like me will be able to view one of the world’s most important cities from the view of one of the most important business in the world.

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