How to get a job at... the Mirror Group: Regionals are the best place to get experience

Trinity Mirror reopened its journalism trainee scheme this year after it was closed in 2008.

This year’s scheme, which lasts for three years, will take on three trainees. According to the Mirror more than 500 applications were made for the programme, which starts in September.

Here, deputy managing editor of the Mirror Group Aidan McGurran gives his tips on how to get on to the scheme.

What do you look for in potential trainees?

The absolute key thing is what they have done in terms of journalistic experience. One of the things that fails to impress is applications that talk about a passion for journalism but then have very little concrete evidence to back it up.

You get the odd one who’s bizarrely done all national experience and so I think therefore they think that will be incredibly impressive. I’m not saying that’s not impressive. But I also like to see a decent amount of experience at local or regional newspapers as well. If I had to pick one out of the two it would be that.

To anyone looking to get a foot in the door of journalism I would give the same advice – whether it’s the Mirror training scheme or another training scheme or trying to get your first job: the more relevant experience you’ve got the better. And I think the best place to get that is on your local and regional titles.

What impresses even more were people who had been asked back, whether on a local, regional or national paper – that they’ve made a good impression and that they’ve been asked to go back. Obviously you can flit around doing a few days here and there but not necessarily make much of an impression anywhere.

What qualifications should applicants have?

Basically our scheme is slightly different to most and different to our previous one in that it’s not a graduate trainee scheme. That doesn’t mean you can’t be a graduate – in fact the vast majority of people applying, not surprisingly, are graduates. But the minimum requirement is basically two A-levels.

The vast majority are graduates. And some of them, not surprisingly, are from the very top universities. A lot of them do a traditional degree. A lot of them are doing journalism degrees. And that’s fine. Our main criteria is not academic qualifications.

That said we expect our applicants to be very bright and hard-working. We will weed out anyone who isn’t and doesn’t fit that criteria. But we did want to open up the possibility that if there is a really good applicant that hasn’t got a degree that we’re not purely rejecting them because they haven’t got a degree.

What characteristics should applicants have?

A good understanding of what the Mirror is about and the values that differentiate it from the rest of the market is important and also the fact candidates are interesting and will fit in.

We are a little bit more open to characters than some schemes – but as always with the proviso they are bright, enthusiastic, willing to learn and with a decent bit of experience behind them.lc

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