Credit: Ethan Hoover on Unsplash

When someone asks how to get into any industry, the answer is often work experience. Yet, with many journalists working from home and media organisations facing hiring freezes and job cuts, newsrooms cannot offer opportunities to new journalists in the same way.

Instead, Lily Canter, journalist, lecturer, and co-founder of Freelancing for Journalists realised she could link students looking for experience with freelance journalists working from home.

The idea came to her when she hired an intern over the summer to help with research and received 70 applications within 24 hours.

Canter, and co-founder Emma Wilkinson, turned to Freelancing for Journalist’s growing social media platforms to ask experienced freelancers if they could offer students or recent graduates some virtual tasks or even some mentoring and feedback.

The pair have now created a database of around 50 freelancers, who are all offering work experience opportunities throughout the year.

Those taking part could gain experience in a wide range of fields, including travel writing, fintech, podcasting, political reporting, and even covering disability sports.The scheme could also see them network across continents as, although it is mainly UK-based, freelancers in the US and Australia have also signed up.

Canter believes it is the first scheme of its kind and that the pandemic has made budding journalists more susceptible to give a virtual work experience a go rather than missing out completely.

Despite the extra challenges the coronavirus brings to an already competitive industry, she said it offers opportunities for those who are entrepreneurial.

"Those starting out can be flexible, take different opportunities. There’s a lot of scope for that and it is all about thinking outside the box," she says.

Freelancing for Journalists was itself borne out of the pandemic, launching a podcast and Facebook community in March 2020.

Offering a piece of advice to those starting out, Canter said persistence is key.

"Do not be despondent if no one is getting back to you or you have not been given any feedback. It is a long game."

If you are a student or recent Journalism graduate and are interested in attending, you must sign up for the virtual work experience briefing on 20 November.

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