‘My Sheffield Star Work Placement Helped Me Gain Confidence’

by Anastasia Christodoulou
MA Journalism

Seeing your work published in a professional capacity is a thrill for every budding journalist, so having the opportunity to do that during a work placement at a well-respected institution is a chance anyone would jump at. 

During the Easter Holidays, I was able to put all of the skills and knowledge that I had gained during my course into practice by completing one week’s remote experience at the Sheffield Star. 

It was an amazing experience as it made me more confident in transferring my abilities in the real world, as it can be easy to doubt yourself in an environment as competitive as journalism.  

I have always loved the quirkiness of local news, especially because the stories are usually about ordinary people doing extraordinary things – fundraising, charity events, or even rare coin collectors.

In the wider news environment, there’s a persistent idea that local news is dying out and there is no place for it anymore, but working at a local paper cemented the idea that that could not be further from the truth, and that people do love stories about their community.  

One of my favourite stories that I worked on during the week was about the 90th anniversary of the Kinder Mass trespass protest, which took place on Kinder Scout in the Peak District, and cemented why I love local news, because you get to hear stories about people you would have no idea existed otherwise. 

Headline from Anastasia’s Kinder Trespass article

Staff at The Star were so patient and helpful with any queries I had, and were more than happy to read over any articles that I needed feedback on – especially with opinion pieces as they are not my strong point. 

I ended up having two opinion pieces published during the course of the week, which I think if you had told me that when I first started my MA I would have laughed at the absurdity. 

Going out of my comfort zone and spelling to people for vox-pops on the Moor and in the peace gardens, interviewing people, and writing longer features as well as news pieces were skills that I solidified during the placement, and found the practice incredibly beneficial. 

The biggest surprise I found with my placement was that I was about to gain confidence and challenge myself, but didn’t find it stressful or challenging at all. As it was remote I didn’t experience any intimidation of stepping into a professional newsroom for the first time, and we received ample time to complete any articles or undertake any tasks – plus the staff that were looking after us checked in with us several times during the day over email. 

Before the course, I had never written a ‘professional’ CV before, which as well as a cover letter, was needed for the application process. With Trish’s help, and a fair few rewrites of my application, I was delighted that I managed to secure the placement.

I’d also never had any real work experience either, it was only really working on student papers, so I would recommend a JUS placement to anyone who wants to practice the skills they’ve learnt and become more confident in their abilities.

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