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How I got my job as a magazine journalist

Charlotte Harding, 32, is a feature writer for etc Magazine and across the JPIMedia group. She has worked as a journalist for eight years and she’s also the co-founder of Generation Tribe.

I have wanted to be a journalist since I was about 12 or 13.

I remember at senior school our English teacher asked what we wanted to be when we grew up.

My peers answered vet, teacher, singer or footballer. I, on the other hand, said I wanted to be a TV researcher.

My mum told me about it, and it fed my curious nature. The role consists of researching people for an interviewer.

After the lesson, my English teacher spoke to me and suggested that I combine my curiosity and passion for writing and become a journalist.

The idea stuck.

What I studied

At college I did A Levels in media, film, and English language, and wrote for the college magazine.

Although I knew I wanted to be a journalist I didn’t want to specialise in journalism as I didn’t want to give up my love of film, so I did a degree in media and film.

Read more: How I became a newspaper editor in my twenties

I became film editor of the university newspaper. In my spare time, I wrote gig reviews for the local paper and pitched features to local magazines, including the one I now work for, to build a varied portfolio.

But when I left university I didn’t know how to get an actual job in journalism, so I started work in a call centre before moving into content management at a publisher. After a couple of years, I was made redundant.

A career change

Having found out about the 20-week NCTJ fast-track diploma in journalism I knew this was my now or never moment. I had the money and the time, so I did it.

On the course at Highbury College, I learned shorthand, public affairs, media law, court reporting and the nuts and bolts of writing and editing stories. I loved every second.

But it wasn’t easy. It was a full-time job in itself but I learned so much and still keep in touch with those I was on the course with.

My first journalism job

Three days after finishing I started my first job at a newspaper in Horsham. Although I knew I always wanted to write features, news gave me a fantastic grounding for my job. Keeping stories concise, building my confidence and going out of my comfort zone.

After two years I got my job at etc Magazine and I haven’t looked back.

What it’s like to work on a magazine

At the magazine, I interview people about their businesses and their lives to share with readers.

I have also gone into the world of entertainment, and frequently interview singers and bands coming to the local area.

I’ve even had my interview with Beth Ditto published in national newspaper The i.

My advice

I love my job, yes it can be nerve-racking but it is fascinating and ever-changing and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

My advice to anyone who wants to get into journalism is to get work experience and a lot of it. And look into an NCTJ course. It really is worth the money.

Find out how my Generation Tribe co-founder Bex Bastable got her first job in journalism.

Charlotte Harding
Charlotte Harding
Charlotte is a journalist and the co-founder of The Women's Work Collective.


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