Back in August 2012 I found out that Sky News had opened their applications for work experience, so obviously I jumped at the chance to apply. I had to submit a CV and complete 500 words on 'why Sky News should consider you for a work experience placement'. They got back to me a few weeks later - exactly when they'd said they would, actually - to let me know I'd been successful. Hoorah!
A few months later, I arrived at the huuuuge Sky site in West London excited and nervous for my first day. I was also about a minute late due to stupid delayed trains, which naturally was highly stressing me out as I'd aimed to get there a good 15 minutes early. And I hate being late.
The Sky campus is incredible, and is home to not only Sky News, but also Sky Sports, Sky Studios and all the other Sky TV channels. And it's jolly sleek and snazzy. There's a huge cantine, gym and beauty salon on site, and as I was there in December, they also had an outdoor Christmas market which was very cute.
There were two other work experience students starting with me, and we all had our induction together, which was nice. Although we were each going to be working with different departments for the week, our work experience was overseen by Neil Dunwoodie and Tabitha Roblou, who were fantastic in organising it all.
They welcomed us, got me a cup of tea (which is surely the wrong way round), answered any of our questions, showed us round all the different sections of Sky News (more on that later) as well as the rest of the campus, taught us how to use some of the software and ensured we had a health and safety briefing too.
At the end of the week they also sat down with each of us individually to chat about how we'd found everything. I think this is really important, and it just shows that they really care that their work experience schemes are, well, working.
At Sky News, it seems that they tend to give work placements to students who already have some sort of journalistic experience and know that they're interested in the industry, but will also be able to get a lot out of it. I know I certainly did.
So what is it actually like inside Sky News? Well, it's as slick as you'd expect from a 24hr TV newsroom: all red, white and blue around the open-plan studio, remote controlled cameras, a mezzanine filming area with a green screen, the weather section, the gallery with all its technical screens and dials, and buzzy newsdesks.
Everyone was clearly in the Christmas spirit, as there were mini Christmas trees and lights decorating the office, not to mention cake, chocolates and mince pies going round all the time (oh, how I miss Christmas!). There are separate sections for online, iPad and radio too - I didn't know but Sky actually produces the news for most regional radio stations. Pretty cool, huh?
Sky News is a pretty lean organisation, but everyone I met was so friendly, nice and took the time to talk to me and answer all my questions. It's things like that that can really make one work experience so much better than another.
Over the course of my week, I got to shadow Sky's Showbiz reporter, Lucy Cotter, when she went out filming and then see how she edited her packages (news stories) to get them ready for the TV, which was great. Lucy was incredibly lovely too, and I genuinely think she may have one of the best jobs in the world.
I also researched stories for the Showbiz team (headed up by Michael Blair, who was great), sat in on planning meetings (really interesting!), put my colour coordinating skills to good use in drawing up a spreadsheet, had a go at writing stories for the website, thought of interview questions and booked guests for interviews. By the by, if anyone was watching Sky News on Sunday 23rd December and saw an interview with ex-Spice Girl Mel C, I'm pretty proud to say I set that up. Hashtag smug face.
It was great as I felt like I was really doing things that were useful. As well as learning A LOT, I was just absolutely loving being there and taking it all in. I didn't want to leave! Apparently, it was actually a rather quiet week for the Showbiz team, but I still found it all really exciting. Keen bean and all.
One thing I got to do that was a lot of fun was having a go at reading the prompter. I'll tell you now, it's not as easy as you may think, and it's easy to forget to breathe. Not ideal. I had to control how quickly it went with a foot pedal, which requires a certain degree of coordination. Those news readers make it look easy.
I have also come to the conclusion that if I want to be a reporter, I should probably cut my hair to just below my shoulders, as this seems to be the case for a good 95% of female news readers and reporters. Think about it. Maybe it's an unspoken requirement. But I'd definitely be willing to sacrifice my (way too) long hair.
Sky News make their work experience students feel really valued and part of the team - we even got staff passes and Sky email addresses for the week, which was awesome. So, overall it was an absolutely fantastic experience which has completely inspired me and reinforced my passion for journalism. (That may sound cringey, but it really is true. I'm just too keen.)