UK News by Sarah Rainey

Friday 23 July 2010

£25m country estates... The aspirations of British postgraduates... Revelations at the Chilcot Inquiry... Rioting in Northern Ireland... Travel companies going bust... These are just some of the things I have written about after nearly two weeks working with the Financial Times’ UK News team. It’s been a varied, fast-paced and unforgettable internship – and I know that as the final days approach, they’re really going to have to force me to leave the office on Friday afternoon.

I can’t begin to explain how ridiculously excited I was to get my own FT email address on my first day here. It’s all part of the professionalism of the company – never before on work experience have I been treated so much like a fellow journalist, as opposed to a tea-making student. All interns are expected to pitch ideas, contribute to editorial meetings and research articles – and even though you can’t get it right every time, the people I’ve met have given helpful and encouraging feedback throughout my time here.

Financial news is far from my forte, but the FT makes even the most complex of stories accessible – with its talented journalists, creative graphics team and hard-working editors, who stay late into the night making sure the paper contains an eye-catching mix of stories and is consistently impressive, day after day. UK news stories that break mid-week have often been debated on Monday morning by the editorial team – and it’s been incredible to see just how on-the-pulse conversation, story ideas and forward planning at the FT is.

While much of my work here has been peripheral – ranging from research to writing timelines, boxes and short sidebars for the paper – I have been put to work on two longer stories for the summer season, one of which I pitched myself, which will hopefully get into the paper later in the month. I have checked ideas, drafts and sources with the editors, who have always been willing to help me out, calling in specialists from other sections of the paper, who have given me contacts and suggestions. There is a great spirit of collaboration at the FT that I haven’t experienced at other newspapers, which accentuates the friendly working environment and drives the ultimate success of the company.

It’s been a brilliant few weeks for me on the FT’s UK News desk, and I wish I could stay longer. I’ve met some inspiring people and had bylines in a paper I have always been in awe of.

My advice for future interns? Come armed with ideas, enthusiasm and a notepad – you’ll be expected to hit the ground running and won’t want to be under-prepared. You need a certain amount of current affairs awareness, but don’t worry about the financial specifics – it’s ok to ask questions along the way. Finally – throw yourself into it and don’t be afraid to give everything a go. I’ve talked to everyone from chief executives of major companies to an elderly couple living in rural Hampshire since I came to the FT, and my work here has given me confidence, conviction in my own ability and a burning desire to some day return to this inspirational place.

Life & Arts by Kirsty Blake-Knox

Friday 16 July 2010

My first day at the FT was a bit of a whirlwind: sitting in on conference calls, meeting editors of various departments, going on a tour of the building and trying to get to grips with the computer system left me a bit overwhelmed. I had never worked in an office before so was slightly daunted by it all. Plus, the FT was much bigger then I had anticipated. However, my anxieties soon subsided when I settled into the Life and Arts desk - everyone was so helpful and friendly that I quickly realised I had nothing to worry about.

Unlike other internships you won't spend your time at the FT making tea or photocopying mounds of documents - you become a valuable member of the team given challenging tasks and jobs. You'll be asked to fact check, review shows and books and research a variety of topics. During my four week internship I had to analyse the history of cookery books, delve into Italy's political history and consider the cultural impact of Star Wars, no two days are the same.

Interning at the FT Life and Arts has not only been an extremely rewarding experience its been a lot of fun. I was even lucky enough to get several by-lines published in the paper - which was a real bonus. I'd recommend interning here to anyone.

Not making tea by Ivana Kottasova

Friday 9 July 2010

There are two ways to avoid becoming a tea-girl while doing your editorial internship:

A)When your boss asks you to make him a cup of tea for the first time, produce a weak and way-too-milky slop, preferably cold and with a long blond hair in it. I promise he won’t ask for another one.

B)Do your internship at the FT.

Knowing absolutely nothing about finance except how to spend it, I suffered a slight panic attack when the FT offered me a four-week internship with the Markets desk. I rushed to a bookstore and spent £30 on 'Financial Markets Guide', 'Markets for Dummies' and, an absolute must-have for all future interns, 'Reading and Understanding the Financial Times'.

After spending the next few weeks reading, I finally arrived at the FT and soon realised that I don’t have to pretend I understand everything, or nod sophisticatedly despite having no clue what people are talking about. Trust me, if there is a place where it is absolutely fine to ask stupid questions, it is the FT Markets desk.

During the four weeks, I had the chance to try different aspects of editorial work, from updating markets reports and subbing stories, to uploading copy onto the website and writing a daily blog on emerging markets in central and eastern Europe.
I was lucky enough to be there on Budget Day and found it absolutely thrilling, watching the professional, dedicated staff deliver best Budget coverage.

My supervisors let me work on my own, make some mistakes, find them and correct them only to make them again the next time. They were encouraging and helpful and I enjoyed every bit of this experience.

A Day in the Life of an FT Weekend Magazine Intern by Harriet Hernando

Friday 2 July 2010

Like a sodden, wrung-out flannel, I am slightly limp from pitching ideas all day, but finally, one has captured the interest of the magazine associate editor, so I straighten up and set to work writing the article that will be printed in the next edition. Trying to quell my excitement, I’m on the phone immediately, verifying the facts from UN scientists for the data about the economic value of coral reefs that will appear in ‘The Information’ section.

After I can confirm that the facts in the article are as watertight as a seal in a PVC anorak, I send it to the editor who gives me valuable, detailed feedback. Editing a long sentence here, an adjective too many there, and my copy is transformed into a succinct piece of journalism fit for the FT Magazine. Later, I am taken to see the graphics team who show me how my article will appear, and they brainstorm an assortment of clown fish and sea anemones to accompany the data.

Besides pitching ideas, fact checking is an important part of an intern’s role. As the BP story broke, the grandees of the newspaper decided how best to cover the disaster. The result was a thorough 6,000 word article detailing BP’s attempts to ‘plug the damn hole’. My job was to find out what Barack Obama, the US President, had been doing in the aftermath of the oil spill, and to check the information in the copy, from the spelling of names to the valuation of a company: accuracy was paramount.

My internship coincided with the introduction of a new editor to the magazine, so whilst the atmosphere at times was slightly chaotic, it was great to be involved in a buzz of creativity as new ideas were pooled and old, tired ideas scrapped. I was able to contribute in editorial meetings where I felt that my opinion was valued. But it wasn’t all glamorous. At one point I was sent off on a hunt for a bin, and I ended up accidentally ordering a wheelie bin which a bewildered man somehow managed to squeeze into the office, only to be told that the green garden waste monstrosity was not suitable. Despite the blunder, no one in the office seemed to mind, and this was typically characteristic of the friendliness of the journalists there who made me feel welcome.

Interning on the Weekend Magazine is a great opportunity to experience what life as a hack is really like. While you may not be chain smoking roll-ups all day, or slugging back Scotch as you file your story in a hot, frenetic, sweaty rush up to the deadline, you will be under pressure to come up with your own pitches; don’t expect to be spoon-fed by the other journos. But fear not, for wracking your brain for ideas all week will no doubt lead to the holy grail of all internships, the sacred byline. As I depart, clutching my golden goblet, I am sad to leave the team on the magazine with whom I spent an enlightening and enjoyable three weeks.