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Volunteers' Stories




Journalism Work Experience Internship at The Big Issue Magazine, in Cape Town, South Africa

Everyone is being extremely helpful and welcoming, there aren't many volunteers out here at the moment but that's a bit of a blessing because it's been quiet enough to let me get used to things at my own pace.

It is amazing how quickly you adapt - only 6 days in and I feel like I've been here ages, the city is vast but I'm slowly learning my way around it. Work is helping give structure to the days and there's no better way to get to know a country than getting out here, meeting its people and contributing.

The Big Issue is a small but great place to work - the people are welcoming and the work exciting enough to keep you interested! At the moment they are preparing for their bumper 100th edition so I think they are glad to have an extra pair of hands! You are given as much to do as you want so if you are prepared to dig in and make the effort you can really get stuck in which is fantastic.

This weekend I'm taking a tour of the Cape and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to see a bit more of the country - it's all too easy to think there is nothing outside of Observatory where the Lodge is!

What experience do you feel you are gaining?

Experience of South Africa - the politics, the people and the culture in general. Also experience of the magazine industry, of a social NGO and of the socially responsible side of business out here.

So far what is the best thing about your placement?

The weather! I'm loving the fact that most Britons are currently shivering and I've been at the beach most weekends. And of course all the many wonderful people that are keeping me occupied with braais, sightseeing trips and extreme sports.

What type of person do you think this placement would suit?

Someone with a degree of experience in journalism who is competent enough to work on their own initative, able to adapt quickly to new environments and very outgoing.

Please can you describe a typical day?

Work begins around 9:30 and, depending on how close it is to deadline, reporters will work on their own stories (assigned to them at the editorial meeting at the beginning of each edition), perhaps proofread and make a few necessary calls. Workers can take an hour for lunch and in the afternoon it's back to completing features/news articles and helping other members of staff.

I'd advise people not to expect a high pressure working environment but a relaxed, small and friendly office - it is ideal for those taking a break from study or easing into the industry but knowledge of journalism is preferable so that you can be of use to the magazine. It's a cliché, of course, but you do get out of this what you put in.

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