It is one of those generally accepted truths among students that internships and work experience involve two things: making coffee and photocopies. At The Cricketer magazine, someone else makes the coffee, and they don’t have a photocopier. In some ways, it’s just two fewer things for me to cock up.
My only previous work experience came last summer, when I endured a difficult week working at a local daily newspaper, on the newsdesk. Modern newsdesks are not what they used to be – there are far more screens than the golden era of newspapers – and most people working there and scrambling about either trying to embed in their current job or hang around long enough to find another one. Although I learnt a lot about how to write and report, it took 2 days for anyone except HR to take any notice, and they made no effort to hide the fact that I was a total inconvenience to them. It was an emotionally draining five days.
I had put pressure on myself to make a better stab at this placement; I have read The Cricketer since I was a boy and my early teenage years were spent cutting out pictures of my favourite cricketers and sticking them up all over my bedroom(You’re a weirdo…Ed.), so I arrived at Great Portland Street to start a two week placement at the world’s leading cricket magazine with a few butterflies in my stomach, and having had very little sleep. However, my nerves were quite ill-placed. The publishing assistant showed me round, introduced me to everyone by name, I shook some hands, and then he dumped me on my desk and went downstairs.
The man sitting opposite me was my editor, it transpired, which was a little intimidating. However, the size of my iMac meant that hiding behind it only required a little slouching. There were only two others in the office, and all three of them disappeared into a meeting for half an hour soon into my first day, which provided me with an excellent opportunity take an inordinate number of selfies and to steal everything I wanted to steal. (You’re aware this is pretty incriminating, right?)
On their return I was tasked with a few bits of information gathering to write up, and the opportunity to ring up any number of professional (ex-)cricketers for some minor interviews. It’s fair to say I cocked all of them up: I fail to get anywhere near enough copy of the interview, had to do three rewrites, and then simply failed to grasp the concept of one piece of work. Even so, everyone was very accommodating, and my mistakes were duly pointed out and corrected.
Day Two went considerably better…