So, how do you know we know what we’re talking about? Well, we’ve spoken to the people who’ve applied, interviewed and got the gig at the end of it all to give you the best shot, as well as help to understand what life’s really like in the job.
And we’ve also chatted to the people who do the hiring, to make sure we’ve got a really complete picture. We’ve done all the hard work, so you work out if it’s for you, covering everything from the application process, to top-tips and genuine feedback – we’ve got you covered. We know we know; we’re just too good.
If you’re on the scheme yourself we’d love to hear from you to help add to this guide. Go on, we might even buy you a gin.
There’s just the one journalism scheme at The Telegraph, although it does involve a number of different rotations so you can get a feel for a range of desks across the newsroom.
It’s a 2 year scheme, based at The Telegraph’s offices in Victoria in London, but with placements and training around the country.
You’ll need to be available for a September start, and you’ll be expected to work an eight hour day, though 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 2019 scheme is listed as above London Living Wage, as you’d expect.
According to their website, the training includes: “an eight-week course at the Press Association’s offices in Howden, Yorkshire; two three-month placements with a top regional newspaper in the UK and the Press Association’s newsroom in London; mentoring and on-the-job training at the Telegraph.” Let’s break it down:
Eight-Week Press Association Course
This covers media law, develops your writing, teaches basic interview skills, and also includes things like shooting video, and shorthand.
The people we’ve spoken to on the scheme had positive feedback of the whole experience. They said there were excellent trainers, and that speakers also enabled graduates without a specific background in journalism to get up to speed.
Training was also very contemporary: offering detailed insights into social media and digital journalism.
Two Three-Month Placements
You’ll undertake one with a regional newspaper – an ideal opportunity to understand local news and get to work a beat. Those we spoke to did placements at newspapers from Liverpool to Newcastle.
The second is with the Press Association’s newsroom in London – another opportunity to develop skills and gain contacts.
Mentoring & On The Job Training At The Telegraph
Rotating across different desks allows you to experience all areas of the Telegraph, from sport to business. Those on the scheme said this was particularly valuable, not just for offering so much experience, but for helping you to find a niche.
The Application Process
It’s a fairly extensive application; the classic CV/cover letter combo, followed by a few specific questions, one which considers what topic you believe is missing from the Telegraph.
Need a bit of inspiration? 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.
An undergraduate or postgraduate qualification is essential, but it doesn’t have to be in journalism. Experience in local or student journalism is preferable. They’re also keen to find out how extensive your shorthand capability is, but don’t worry, this informs training – not your application.
The next step (if you’re successful) is an assessment centre in early May. It involves a range of tasks:
- A one-on-one interview
- A group discussion
- Editing and writing exercises
Essentially, it’s a combination of your basic nuts and bolts journalism, as well as some in-depth thinking. They’re considering how you think, as well as what you think.
Come prepared to discuss your views, and stretch your intellectual muscles. After that – it’s the yes or no, and if successful you’ll be offered the job prior to the September start.
What Are They Looking For?
So, here’s what they’re looking for. They want someone who loves writing and investigating. You need to be eager to engage with people from all walks of life, and ready to tell their stories.
You also need to enjoy working to a deadline (knew those university all-nighters would come in useful, eh?), writing under pressure, and have good time-management skills.
“Do not underestimate the extent to which you will be required an expected to have a basic level of journalistic competence… You will need to be able to demonstrate core skills and your interest in journalism, but at the same time there’s no need to sand yourself down, if you have a particular individual strength (knowledge/character) you need to big those up!”
You’ll move across desks, as well as the country, so you need to be prepared to be flexible – and you’ll need to be the kind of person who can quickly slot into new teams.
Confidence is also essential, particularly whilst you’re doing your regional placement. You’ll be given a lot of responsibility early on – expect plenty of door knocking, live reporting, and being thrown in at the deep end.
It goes without saying that it’ll be a great experience, but you’ll need to be versatile and ready to accept and engage with lots of different challenges.
Cristina Criddle, a journalist with BBC Radio 4 Today programme who was previously on the scheme told Journo Resources that originality was the key component when applying for this particular scheme.
Don’t say what you think they might want to hear, show as much personality and experience as possible: “don’t be grey and boring!”
Reviews From People That Did It
Obviously, that all sounds great. But what do those think you’ve been through the scheme? Luckily for you, we decided to ask three of them:
Cristina Criddle, former trainee, now journalist at The Today Programme: “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. Ultimately this helped me to decide the direction of my career.”
Laurence Dodds, former trainee, now US Tesch reporter for The Telegraph: “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.”
Tom Ough, former trainee, now a writer and commissioning editor for The Telegraph: “A lot of trust is put in grads, which is mostly cool. Writing about business was difficult for me, an ignoramus, but being on the sports desk allowed me to go to Wimbledon and liveblog Euro 2016.”
You can also hear more from Tom when he spoke about his experiences on a panel for Journo Resources in 2018.
After The Programme Ends
After the formal 2 year programme comes to an end, you’ll be a permanent part of the newsroom in a role which best fits your aspirations and skillset.
The majority of those we spoke to continued their careers with the Telegraph following the graduate scheme.
Article compiled and written by Jessica Lord. You can find her on Twitter here.