A career in journalism can offer an exciting blend of challenging and rewarding experiences. But landing your first job is not always easy.

This is where work experience comes in. We tell people who want to become journalists that editors regard it as an absolute priority. They often recruit people who have done placements with them in the past.

You can read all the books in the world, but nothing prepares you like real experience. This is why we strongly encourage students on our freelance journalism course to arrange at least one placement.

There’s nothing better than being thrown in at the deep end of a weekly paper newsroom for a week or two. You’ll learn new skills, and also experience the conflict, stress, politics and constant buzz of a frenetic working environment.

You may well see your name in print, which will be a significant step in your career. And you’ll learn what it’s like having your carefully-crafted copy completely rewritten by a subeditor. Not something you will experience on a home study course, or one at an online college.

With any luck, you’ll also experience a newsbreak – something you would never encounter from the comfort of your desk at home. There, the closest thing to a crisis would probably be spilling your tea on the keyboard.

Work experience also gives you an opportunity to make good contacts. Anyone in the industry will tell you how important this is.

See our freelance journalism course