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Wider careers in the media

Media careers insight week

To release quality and timely content, a news media company has to have talented professionals with a range of skills - from publishing to UX design, there's so much you can do if you want a career in the media, but don't fancy being a journalist.

We interviewed some of the Guardian's best and brightest to give you insight and ideas about what you could do to kickstart your career.

Don't want to miss a thing?
Rob Rattley on being Head of retail and print subscription
Rob Rattley is the perfect example of why climbing a straightforward career ladder isn’t the only ticket to a fulfilling career, and that getting experience in different areas can help you find what you really love to do...

My job title is...

Head of retail and print subscription at The Guardian. My role involves budgeting, planning and leading a small team to manage the print revenues for our newspapers in the UK and Ireland and our global weekly magazine.

I grew up in...

Watford. I wasn't the most eager academic and left school after my GCSEs in search of a bit more freedom. I took up some A levels at college, met some brilliant people and managed to balance having a nice time with achieving a couple of respectable A levels in English literature and business studies. 

I got into my career by…

Joining a management training program with John Lewis rather than going to University. I spent the next three years learning a lot and having to do a lot of growing up! From there I went into recruitment and headhunting where I spent nine months realising I really didn't want to be in that industry. Sometimes doing something you really don't enjoy can teach you a lot about yourself and what you want. I joined the Guardian as a retail territory manager and moved into the London office eighteen months later. My Guardian career has been spent in Print Publishing but I've done IT and tech, analysis, wholesale management as well as led various teams and projects, it has certainly never been boring!

When I was younger...

Would I have seen myself in this career? Absolutely not. My experience was limited to working in retail part-time so I couldn't imagine much beyond that and I had no idea what I wanted as a career. I'm incredibly fortunate to be able to say that I enjoy most aspects of my job. My role is pretty varied so I can be knee deep in spreadsheets or sitting in editorial conferences discussing events and what might be covered in upcoming print editions. Most of all though, it's being proud of what we do as an organisation.

News and media is an extremely broad field. There are so many different career routes that you wouldn't necessarily be aware of at first glance. Beyond writing and editing, there are opportunities for developing new products and forms of content, testing user experience on the website, conducting research into our readers (through surveys and focus groups), or working in analytics, like me. As a result, I would recommend doing your research into the full spectrum of opportunities and seeing which best suits you, as it may not be what you initially think.
Lucy McCormick, Analytics manager
Sometimes doing something you really don't enjoy can teach you a lot about yourself and what you want.
Rob Rattley, Head of retail and print subscription
Do your research, don't turn up at an interview not knowing much about the company you're there to talk to. When you're starting out people don't expect you to have all the skills or experience, but they do expect you to be engaged and demonstrate you're interested in the project or company you're hoping to work for.
Nat Fox, Senior multimedia producer, Advertising
Spotlight on... being a UX designer

What is a UX designer? 

User experience (UX) designers create aesthetically pleasing, accessible and easy-to-use applications and websites. You’ll need to understand your audience's motivations to create the best user experience and work collaboratively with other members of a digital team to create your best work.

Case study: Priscilla Alcalde Melo, Senior user experience designer, Guardian

“My role involves understanding what people feel and need when they read, watch or listen to The Guardian on our mobile app. It’s then my job to craft and design the best experience possible for people to consume our content. I create user journey maps, mockups, and prototypes that help our team to visualise how people will interact with the app and then test with app users to learn about their behaviour.

My work is highly collaborative; I work with colleagues from other disciplines such as researchers, software engineers, product managers, editors, data analysts, and other designers to define and build products that support the Guardian as a business. 

Before joining the Guardian, I worked in various industries in different roles. I started as a fashion design assistant before learning how to code. Then I worked as a web designer and a front-end developer. After a few years, I changed my mind again and started working as a UX designer. I was then invited to work in the innovation department at the largest private bank in Brazil. After a couple of years there, I decided to move to London to do my master's and learn more about innovation. In parallel to my studies here, I continued working as a UX Designer in a small agency and then in a startup until I started at the Guardian.

I think to be a UX designer, you should enjoy teamwork and collaboration, be open to experimentation, and have a lot of curiosity about people’s behaviour, business and how things work in tech.”

Mylene Sylvestre on what it’s like to work in Publishing

What are good ways to start or get relevant experience in news? What could a secondary or university student be doing now that might help?

A good way to get relevant experience would be to ask for an internship in a media company - identify people working in the media, magazine or newspapers publishing on LinkedIn and message them directly on LinkedIn asking for internship opportunities. You could offer to do some desk research for them about a specific problem they might want to solve, or ask if you could shadow people working in their team. Just be curious, interested, pro-active and bold. Ask for a quick video chat or a coffee. Always good to make connections.

Where do you get ideas for your work?

My ideas are often about topics for a supplement section, operations (print and distribution) and marketing. A lot of my ideas come from collaborative work with my team. Something comes up in my head and I then ask them what they think. I also always listen to suggestions from my team whatever their level. I look at what other newspapers and magazines do worldwide. I talk to my counterparts in other media companies. I attend conferences, read a lot of articles about the media and follow the relevant people on Twitter.        

What one piece of advice would you give to a young person interested in getting a career in news and media?

I would say read and listen to the news (online and in print) and try to read a wide range of opinions and views: Guardian, FT, Reuters, New York Times, Times, Telegraph, Business Insider for example) , watch the news (BBC, Sky News, CNN etc), listen to the radio (BBC radio 4, BBC world Service for example), read news weekly magazines (New Statesman, The New Yorker, Guardian Weekly, the Economist etc). Be curious and open to different points of view. Get involved in your school, college or University publications, write a blog on topics you're interested in. Produce a list of commissioning editors in publications you like and send them your pitch ideas. There are masterclasses online offering advice on pitching stories. Enrol for one. Write, write, write if writing is what you want to do. There are a lot of other and very varies jobs available in the media: finance, HR, operations, marketing, advertising (sales) so I would look at these jobs too.

What is the one thing you've done that you feel has been most beneficial for your career?

I would say seizing any opportunity that was presented to me even if it put me out of my comfort zone at the time (scary job promotions for example).

Who inspires you?

I would say Liv Little, who's the founder and ex-Editor of Galdem, an online and print magazine run by women of colour. She launched Galdem seeing a need in the market and has really given a voice to people who don't usually feature in the media much. Her work is really groundbreaking and important. She's a total inspiration.

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