November 25, 2019 (Updated )

Rebecca Tuffin was in her first year of university reading psychology when she realised it just wasn’t for her. “I just felt like I was wasting my time,” she tells Journo Resources. 

Rather than hang around spending more money on tuition fees, she immediately quit her course and began applying for any creative jobs she could find – until a neighbour sent her the job advert for an editorial apprentice.

Now, she’s working full-time for the KM Group on everything from life-saving drugs to the newest Taco Bell. Here’s how she got there.

My typical day involves…

Can you help us do more?

Well, I’m doing nine to half-five Monday to Friday at the moment, so pretty standard. I normally make a cuppa when I get in and it’s quite a relaxed office that I’m in at the moment, Medway [the KM’s Head Office, which houses The Medway Messenger, KentOnline and KMFM].

And yeah, I mean, I’m in the office quite a lot, doing stuff over the phone, but I’m sometimes out and about, which I really like doing – going out and about doing stories that way.

Like, all journalists, it’s all kind of different every day, isn’t it? What you’re working on, and different stuff. They let me deal with different types of stories, more lighthearted stuff, and then you know, more heavy stuff.

Life as an apprentice also includes classroom based learning…

Meaning Rebecca from also completing an NCTJ college course from August until Christmas, so she could achieve her NTCJ diploma. To read more about the KM Group’s apprenticeship scheme, take a look here.

At KentOnline I do quite a lot of lighthearted things, quite a lot of listicles, things like that. I did one on restaurants that have turned around their food hygiene ratings, from zero or one to five, or things like that, people really like them. So yeah, a lot of much longer pieces, where you contact a lot of different people.

There’s been a couple of times I have been out recently. There’s one where we got a Taco Bell recently in Chatham, which was actually the first in Kent. My editor sent me to one in Chelmsford to review it, and that was really fun. Yeah, so things like that I really, really love. I haven’t done a lot of court [stories] yet, I want to get into court. I’ve shadowed a couple of people, but they haven’t sent me on my own. I absolutely love it, I think it’s so interesting.

Rebecca Tuffin
Rebecca Tuffin out reviewing Taco Bell, ahead of the first opening in Kent.(Image Credit: The KM Group)

Honestly, I never planned for this…

No, I actually didn’t plan for this at all. I went to university for a year, and I did psychology, and I was there, and I just felt like I was wasting my time. I wasn’t that into it, it was costing a lot, and I thought, I’ve got to leave and get a job. So I just applied for anything that was creative in any kind of respect.

I’ve always liked writing and art and things like that, but I’d never specifically thought about journalism. But my neighbour said they found this in the paper, to apply for this, and I was like, alright, so yeah. But, as it’s turned out, it’s definitely something that fits me well I think. I don’t regret it at all, I made the right choice.

I think it’s definitely one of the most interesting jobs, it’s very different to a lot of jobs. You’re something different every day, quite drastically different, so I think it is a very good job for a young person to get into.

The thing that surprises me most about the job…

I kind of thought, at the beginning, I was being very, very formal on the phone to people, I kind of put it on a pedestal, as you see people on the news being very, kind of ‘proper’ and I thought, oh god, I need to be that kind of formal person to fit this job.

But actually, my editor even said, relax, have a chat on the phone. Don’t feel like you need to be this really serious person. So that’s the thing that surprised me, it is just essentially having a chat with an interesting person.

I got the job because…

I don’t know! I’m not used to blowing my own trumpet. I suppose we got on quite well in the interview, I’m quite confident, maybe I came across quite well in that way. I can chat about things quite well.

Rebecca Tuffin at work at the KentOnline offices. Image Credit: Rebecca Tuffin)

The thing I’ve been most proud of is…

I was doing breaking news in my course, for the first week of it, and I was really worried about it, but I ended up, that week, getting the second highest views on my stories out of the whole company, out of all eight offices. So I was pretty proud of that!

When you get your first byline, that’s always a proud moment isn’t it? And I’ve had one splash, that was a proud moment. My little splash!

Thinking about getting into journalism but not sure how? We’ve also chatted to Shingi Mararike, The Sunday Times’ first ever editorial apprentice, gal-dem’s Head of Editorial Charlie Brinkshurst-Cuff and many more.

If I was starting again…

I suppose I would try and be more confident from the beginning. For quite a while, in my head, when my editor would say who wants this story, I would think ‘ooh I want it’ but that I wasn’t good enough, so I wouldn’t volunteer to do it. I think I’d volunteer for everything, from the first moment. Don’t think ‘oh maybe I”m not good enough’,Because you have to do it to then be good.

Rebecca’s first splash in the Kent Messenger. (Image Credit: The KM Group)

I’d advise people too…

My advice would be, be confident and don’t take it too seriously. It’s not something where you can’t ever have a laugh or joke with people. And don’t be scared to volunteer for stories that you like the sound of.

I personally think [an apprenticeship] is a better route. If someone has the choice of a journalism degree or an apprenticeship, definitely choose and apprenticeship – it’s always better learning when you’re actually doing something, rather than learning about it. And also, you save loads of money!

After work…

I finish at half five, which is quite a nice time to finish. I don’t really do much on a weekday after work, I either go to the pub, or chill at home with my family.

Featured Image: Rebecca Tuffin / Supplied