The Telegraph Editorial Graduate Scheme Programme

Applications have now closed for the the Telegraph Editorial Graduate Programme 2022. Applications are expected to re-open in 2023.

Yes, you need to get on that applying thing. (Image Credit: CreateHerStock)

But hold up – if you’re thinking about applying, this guide should be your first stop. To help give you the best shot we’ve spoken to the people who have applied, interviewed, and got the gig at the end of it. We’re not just looking at the application process, but also what life’s really like in the job, so you can understand how it might work for you.

If you’re on the scheme yourself, we’d love to hear from you to help add to this guide – we’re always looking to update, improve, and help encourage more applications.

The Scheme 

There is just one journalism scheme at The Telegraph and it lasts for two years. You’ll be given training across the whole spectrum of a national newsroom, from news and features to business and sport. This includes formal training and plenty of on-the-job experience, both at The Telegraph and at partner local and regional newsrooms across the country.

Typically, you’ll spend three months at a regional newspaper and three months at PA media, before returning to The Telegraph to work across a variety of different desks. For Poppie Platt, who joined the scheme in 2021, this is her favourite part of the job. “Even though you don’t apply to work on one desk or one area, you get to move around every few months and they’re really game for you to try new things.”

Io Dodds, former trainee and US tech reporter, particularly praises the training on the scheme: “I learnt a lot, and gained a lot of invaluable experience. The PA training course was magnificent, it taught me a lot of skills that I still remember and use, and forms the basis of a lot of my work today.”

As well as formal learning, you’ll get the chance to get stuck in from day one, getting out and about to cover stories, as well as getting to grips with news editing and digital skills. Jamie Johnson, a US correspondent who joined on the graduate scheme, tells us he’d already reported from 13 different countries by the time he took up his current role in 2021. So, yes, this really is a job filled with opportunity.

Day-to-day though, you’ll be based at The Telegraph’s main offices in Victoria, London. As with most graduate schemes, they fit the academic year. Applications open in January, close within the first quarter, and interviews will be conducted in April. Successful candidates will start in September.

It’s a standard contract with the newspaper, so you’ll be generally working an eight hour day, but as with any journalism job you’ll need to be flexible when news happens. The Telegraph don’t usually disclose salaries on job adverts, but the 2022 scheme is listed above London Living Wage, as you’d expect.

It’s also worth noting that while this is a two-year training scheme, the team hope that if it’s a good fit you’ll be able to find a role with them afterwards. Previous Telegraph staffers who first joined the team as graduates include US correspondent Josie Ensor, who also previously spent time in Beirut, Tom Ough, who now looks after long reads and colour pieces, and foreign editor Jessica Winch.

The Application Process

As far as application processes go, the first stage here is pretty standard. As well as providing your details, you’ll need to submit a CV and cover letter, which should include links to three pieces of your previous work.

Poppie, Izzy and Jamie. (Image Credit: Twitter)

According to Jamie, the key is to make sure you show the breadth of your work. “Don’t necessarily just put in three pieces about one topic,” he tells Journo Resources. “Try and show a bit of variation on different types of writing,” For example, your three pieces might span an interview, a news piece and a feature.

Jamie also urges you not to worry about where your pieces have been published. “Don’t worry about where your stuff is. If you’ve got anything in a newspaper, that’s quite good. If it’s a student newspaper that’s fine as well. I think the point is that you’re not the finished product and you shouldn’t be.”

You’ll also need to confirm that you meet the eligibility criteria: that you’ve got a degree or postgraduate qualification, that you have some experience in student, local or other news organisations, and that you’re not an established professional journalist.

Need a bit of inspiration for your CV and cover letter? We got someone who’s hired in national newsrooms before to tell us everything he’s looking out for on your CV and cover letter. You can also watch our free workshop on nailing job applications here.

After the initial application, applicants will be invited to do a written test and a pre-recorded video interview. From there, shortlisted candidates will be invited to an assessment centre where they will take part in group activities and interviews. The aim here is not just to test what you know, but how you collaborate and listen to others.

“There were lots of stages,” recalls Izzy Lyons, who joined the scheme after completing an NCTJ at News Associates. “I think I had three rounds, maybe four… and I think that’s probably a testament to how good the grad scheme is, [and] that from the very outset very senior members of staff are involved in hiring the grads. They really do want the best talent.”

Typically, as well as standard interviews, the process involves a spelling and grammar test and group sessions, where you’ll discuss how to tackle a specific problem as a group.

At all stages though, you’ll be informed of what’s coming next in plenty of time to prepare.

What Are They Looking For?

According to Cristina Criddle, a former grad who has since gone onto work on both the BBC Today Programme and The Financial Times, originality is a key component. She tells Journo Resources that you shouldn’t just say what you think the team wants to hear. “Don’t be grey and boring,” instead showcase your ideas, experience and personality.

It’s also a tactic echoed by Poppie, who adds: “[Don’t] be afraid to bring a bit of personality into the application and cover letter. Don’t just make it the same one you’d use to apply for any other job.” As well as “going in on experience” that you’ve gained from work experience, freelancing, or student media, she also suggests thinking about “[Telegraph] pieces you’ve read, things that you’ve enjoyed, or things that you think they could have done better.”

It’s vital to read both the online and printed product. (Image Credit: Unsplash / Bank Phrom)

Understanding the publication, it’s goals and its audience is also crucial for Jamie, who says it’s vital to do your homework on “the brand, the sort of paper and the product itself, the website and all the rest of it”. Knowing what stories have made the paper and what columnists are writing – and thinking about why they’ve been commissioned – is vital homework.

“It probably sounds a little bit obvious,” says Izzy, “but you need to be able to show [that you understand] what issues matter to us. You have to know what our readers are interested in and what they believe on certain issues, and how the paper is laid out.” Poppie recalls reading the paper “every day for two weeks” in the run up to applying. “I always read it online, but never used to buy the print version – but I definitely [recommend] reading the print paper because most of the stuff in it isn’t online.”

Cristina Criddle says “ultimately this [scheme] helped me to decide the direction of my career”. Speaking to JR, she continues: “The experience and training was amazing, they invest a lot of time in you and you get the opportunity to work across the paper, meet (and learn from) all of the talented journalists and editors, as well as the experience of working on different sections.

Jamie also recommends taking things one step further, and really trying to understand the strategy and forward planning of an outlet, something he says is good advice for all schemes. For example, he mentions the outlet’s 10-1-23 digital strategy and focus on subscribers. “You can find that on the internet, that study’s out there, it’s not come from any internal memos”.

More generally, the team is looking for people with a love of writing who want to uncover original stories from a wide range of people. This year’s job description also has a new focus on digital, so they’ll want to see that you consume a wide range of media and understand what format works best for a story.

Being a self-starter, who’s not afraid to give things a go is vital. Jamie recalls that is how he got his first foreign reporting trip from the Calais migrant camp. Izzy agrees: “When you’re a trainee, the piece of advice I was given, and I would echo it, is to say yes to pretty much everything. Give everything a stab. And, at the end of the day, they expect you to struggle slightly, you’re a trainee but I think doing that in your first few years of journalism, it’s definitely got me quite far.”

And Finally…

If you’re somehow still on the fence about the scheme, take it from our interviewees. When asked to describe the scheme in three words, the words “camaraderie”, “fun” and “eclectic” all came up.

“A lot of trust is put in grads, which is mostly cool,” says Tom Ough who was able to cover events like Wimbledon and the Euros early on in his scheme. Similarly, Jamie recalls interviewing Marcus Rashford and going to Harry and Meghan’s wedding. “It opened up my eyes to a whole world of opportunity and made me really excited for what stories I’d be able to cover in the future.

Izzy concludes: “There’s a great camaraderie in the newsroom. Your colleagues are fantastic and will take you under their wing, and that’s definitely one thing that I think is an asset of The Telegraph.”

This article was supported and made possible by The Telegraph. Article compiled and written by Jessica Lord, Hannah Bradfield, and Jem Collins.

Last updated February 2022.