Sunday, 7 July 2013

Work experience at the Mail Online and

People often ask me why I bother filling up all my holidays with work placements, but the fact of the matter is I just really enjoy doing them. I find it fascinating learning more about the industries I'm interested in and it's fun pretending to be part of them.

I know I haven't blogged much over the past few days (sorry!), but the reason for that is I've spent the week doing a work placement at the Mail Online, specifically with their money team (which is also a separate website, - financial website of the year, don'tcha know.) Oh, I should probably clear up that this was with journalists writing about money and the like, I was not doing the Daily Mail's finances, as a certain friend thought...

The Mail offices
To quote my brother, "But don't you write about baking?" Yes, yes I do, and although I can't claim to know a lot about money (despite being a thriftiness EXPERT), I had a brilliant week. First piece of advice - don't pigeonhole yourself or be picky, as the chances are you'll learn a lot from every placement, and sometimes it's the unexpected ones that end up being the best.

The lobby
Snazzy houses on Kensington High Street
The Daily Mail offices are in a huge building in a fabulous location just off Kensington High Street. I made the most of my lunch breaks by exploring nearby Hyde Park and Kensington Palace Gardens (on a Boris Bike woooo), and yes, a little bit of shopping/browsing may have occurred too.

Kensington Palace

Hyde Park
The Money team isn't huge, which was great as I could get really involved, and they were so lovely. I was really happy to be given proper jobs to do - isn't it the worst when you feel like the staff are just finding things to amuse the workie? - and somewhat amazingly, I came away from the week with no less than three bylines on the Daily Mail website (and a shoutout for my research!) Pretty damn exciting.

So, what was I doing all week? A lot of research for articles, calling up PRs, I casually had a mini photoshoot (the journalists were getting new photos done for their bylines), went to a day-long press conference (more about that below), wrote an article, learnt about how the whole website works, thought up interview questions, generally helped out and pretended to be a journalist. It was fun.

It was so exciting getting the opportunity to research and write a whole article myself. Check it out: "High Net Worth: As Wimbledon reaches its conclusion this weekend, who are the top ten richest tennis players in the world?" I only wish I could say I came up with that fabulous pun myself, but alas I did not. It's basically a list of the world's wealthiest tennis players, which was a lot of fun to do given Wimbledon has just finished (*sob*) and I'm a HUGE fan. (Read about my day at Wimbers here.)

But I want to tell you more about this press conference - my first ever - as I LOVED it. The conference was about Bitcoins. Don't worry, I didn't know what they were either, but if you want to find out, have a read of this article. And it was in Canary Wharf - I'd never been there before either, but it is jolly snazzy. All high-rise, shiny glass buildings and important-looking people in dark suits. Safe to say I didn't exactly look the part in my bright turquoise blazer, but what can ya do?

Grey buildings, grey suits, a grey day. But I still loved it. Genuinely felt a bit like I was on The Apprentice. The area reminded me a bit of New York too. Evidently everyone there was very busy earning money - it amused me to discover a Tiffany's in the bottom of the building. You can just imagine the business men remembering their anniversaries at the end of the day and thinking "OH [insert expletive of your choice]!" before hurriedly dashing into Tiffany's. Phew.

The conference was on the 39th floor of 1 Canada Square. I don't think I've ever been anywhere near the 39th floor of anything, and there were a good ten or so more floors above. Crazy. The views were epic. I tried not to look like too much of a lame tourist snapping pics out the window, but I imagine I definitely did.

As I peered out across London, I spotted pretty much all the city's most famous landmarks, as well as the River Thames (cue the Eastenders theme tune in my head), gardens on the ridiculously high roofs, and people bustling about like little ants below. I could've stared out of those windows for hours. I didn't obviously, as that would've been très unprofesh.

I was there with This Is Money's Marc Shoffman, who was so kind introducing me as his "colleague" all day, and we got press passes upon arrival. PRESS PASSES! Naturally, I was excited about this. And yes, I have kept mine.

Press pass excitement!
The day was mainly a series of talks, and we were there to film some interviews and do research for an article. It wasn't just press there though, there were all sorts of people from the business world, all keen to learn more about Bitcoins. I'd say 95% of attendees were male, generally young, and by jove there seemed to be a lot of Americans. I also made a Belgian friend. That was fun.

I found the whole thing fascinating, and learnt so much from just observing it all (more about journalism than Bitcoins really!) It was great to see Marc in action and how he went about gathering info and interviewing people.

Another cool thing about the day? I'm not going to lie to you: free food. There was a lot. And drinks. All day. Seriously, the organisers of the day clearly wanted to impress everyone. They impressed me, but then again I am a student and thus easily wowed by freebies, and the whole thing was all a novelty to me. Pretty sweet perk of the job, I guess.

Divine mini risotto
But in all seriousness, I really appreciated the Money team letting me go along to the conference, as it was a really valuable insight.

Am I now a financial expert? Of course not. But I've definitely learnt more about journalism - online journalism in particular - which was always the aim. It's so impressive how quickly stories go up on the website. Print media, you'd better watch out.

Apparently, the Mail Online is the most-visited newspaper website in the world, which is a little bit crazy. Thanks to all the Money team for an amazing week! #ILOVEWORKEXPERIENCE

See ya soo, London! In August actually, for my next placement. WHOOP!

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