The first week…Alex Cardno

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Previous blogs from Financial Times interns have lamented the lack of menial tasks so often negatively associated with an internship. I am delighted to echo the same sentiment, one which leads me to this early observation:

National newspaper journalists are busy people. They do not spend a lot of time making cups of tea, nor do they spend hours bent over a photocopier. Internships at the Financial Times succeed because they are structured in such a way that the intern works as a Financial Times journalist.

This means that interns are expected to maintain the same high standards of work and productivity that full-time employees adhere to. The simplicity of the idea is breathtaking. If the intern can work to the high standards of the editorial team, that intern is more likely to succeed and is guaranteed to reap maximum benefit from their time spent here.

My first day, in what looks from the outside a very daunting building, was not nearly as nerve wracking as I imagined. After a guided tour of the newsroom from the senior editorial assistant, I was introduced to my department (the weekend magazine) and my colleagues for the coming weeks.

It did not take long to realise that I hold the dubious distinction of being possibly the youngest, and definitely the most ill-prepared journalist in a building housing 400 editorial staff. Readers will not be surprised to hear that all indicators point to a well-oiled machine.

But to my surprise, at no point does the task seem daunting. I have my own desk, phone, email address and workspace. I am surrounded by friendly, helpful colleagues who encourage me to bring ideas to the table. I am expected to complete fact-checking and proof-reading tasks, but am also encouraged to write and to think of fresh ideas for articles. Thus far, the staff I have encountered have gone out of their way to help me, and have been incredibly grateful and courteous for work I have helped them with.

Having settled in, my next aim is to start thinking of good ideas for articles. It’s been made clear to me that as far as writing goes, a good idea will receive a by-line, it’s as simple as that. There are also plenty of writing opportunities to write in corresponding departments, it is down to me to ask.

First impressions, I need not have been at all nervous, I am lucky to be here and my time here will be what I make of it.

Other objectives? To summon the courage to talk to some of the senior columnists, I’ve seen a few of them around, and their doors appear to be always open. So Mr Rachman, how do I get to the top of the tree?


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