How to get a trainee job at... The Sun: ‘Coming up with a decent story is the best way to get noticed by a newsdesk’

The Sun’s editorial graduate scheme takes on four graduates each year. Candidates must have an NCTJ qualification, with 100 words-per-minute shorthand.

Here, associate news editor James Clench shares his experiences of coming onto The Sun’s scheme and shares his tips on how to impress.

What does The Sun look for in a trainee recruit?

In general terms, what we look for in a candidate is: bags of enthusiasm and willingness to learn; a solid grasp of current affairs across news, politics, showbiz, TV and sport; an ability to write accurately and with flair; a sound knowledge of The Sun’s history, famous scoops and campaigns; good knowledge of social media; the ability to present in front of a group and to work as part of a team; professionalism; likeability; and common sense.

What do trainees do at The Sun?

Each trainee spends time on different sections of the paper – news, features, sport, Bizarre, subbing – and will also go to our Scottish and Irish offices.

At the end of the two-year scheme, they may be taken on as permanent staff in any department.

Have previous recruits been successful?

Our graduate trainee scheme relaunched in 2010 and each of the four recruits has done extremely well since they started.

We are taking on another four this year, who came into the paper for the first time at the end of the summer.

I started as a trainee on a previous scheme in 1999 and am now an associate news editor. Caroline Iggulden is a great success story – she joined on the scheme in 2002 and is now head of features.

What tips would you give to aspiring journalists?

Get as much experience as you can on local papers or websites.

If you are applying for a trainee scheme, read and re-read your application – it is surprising how many applications we have received containing basic spelling errors, which generally end a candidate’s chances of getting to the interview stage.

If you don’t make it onto the scheme, don’t be disheartened – the majority of our staff reporters started at local papers and agencies.

The best way to get noticed by a newsdesk is to come up with a decent story.

Do the basics properly – turn up early, work hard, be enthusiastic and be thorough.

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