Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Work Experience, Day 1

This week I am lucky enough to be in London doing work experience at the Evening Standard. I got the placement all because of 'Love Pink'; the editor replied to my 'pink' questions and when the book was finished I sent him a copy and inquired about work experience. He passed my name on to the editor of the 'Londoner's Diary' section of the paper, and here I am!

Over the next week I will write a diary of my experience.

Day 1:

On my first day of work experience at the Evening Standard I arrive over an hour early. In a nervous attempt to make a good impression I may have substantially overestimated the number of delays I might have encountered. My train was not cancelled, the tube did not berak down, yes I had arrived at the right underground station, and no I did not struggle with my map and end up completely lost.

Arriving in front of the huge glass fronted Northcliffe House, home to the Evening Standard, the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday to name a few, I feel incredibly small. I tug at the denim pencil skirt I finally decided on wearing after a sudden panic this morning. I tried to be incredibly organised, writing a detailed list of my outfits for the week, but a discarded dress lies in a crumpled pile on my bed, evidence of my nerve induced indecision.

I wait until 9:15 (I am supposed to arrive at 9:30 but deam this acceptably eager - perhaps 8:00 would have been a little much) before pushing the revolving door marked 'Visitors'. In the reception I am greeted by newspapers and magazines meticulously fanned out on a table, and a friendly receptionist. I am handed a pass which says 'Libby Page, work experience' and which dispells my previous fears. What if I turned up on the wrong day? What if I was told there must be some mistake? Libby Page? Libby Page who? Work experience? I'm afraid you must be mistaken.

"Take the escalator and then the glass lift to floor 2 for the Evening Standard," I am informed. The escalator climbs into the center of the building, where I emerge onto a bright, open floor. Looking up I can see glass fronted offices climbing up to the huge glass roof above. Water slides down an impressive fountain, people in suits sit at leather sofas, and everywhere there are people moving and talking with a calm sense of purpose.

After taking the glass lift as instructed (I feel a slight Charlie and the Chocolate Factory moment) I arrive on the second floor, to a pond filled with goldfish the size of my arm. Edging past said fish (they swim frighteningly close to the surface of the water and I am scared they will jump out at me) I open a glass door and am met by Olivia, the young woman who booked me in for the work experience. She leads me through the news room and I try to take in as much as possible. The large open plan room is filled with desks and computers. As I pass I look over people's shoulders at the foetal stages of today's Evening Standard. Newspapers, magazines and books are piled in every available space on desks. Despite this apparent disorder I am also struck by how in control and ordered everyone seems. Olivia informs me that the first deadline is at lunchtime, so people will be frantic around then. But in fact when the time approaches there are no raised voices and no one dashing around the office like I had, perhaps naively, imagined. Sitting at a desk here feels like being part of a machine. Perhaps there are tensions and dramas, but it is still a machine that churns out papers every day, without fail.

I am working on the Londoner's Diary section of the newspaper, and join a small team of people at the far end of the office. Everyone is really friendly, but obviously busy. I try not to feel in the way but to take in as much as possible. I am shown the resource library, a room full of past newspapers and magazines. At two points in the day everyone is delivered a photocopy of the Londoner's Diary and a copy of the newspaper. I want to get a real feel for the newspaper and the writing style, so by the end of the day I nearly know the articles in the paper and on the website off by heart.

At lunch I eat in the canteen on the first floor, and as I sit with my meal and book I wonder if I look out of place here, or whether I could fit in to this cool, bright, breasy place.

In the afternoon I am asked whether I wouldn't mind going to an event tomorrow night. Mind?! Something about Ruper Everett... I leave feeling excited about the next day.

After work I do some shopping - Northcliffe House is conveniently situated on Kensington High Street - before returning back to Wandsworth Common, where I am staying with friends of my godmother's. I manage to get on the wrong line on the underground, but get off at the next stop and get back on track, eventually arriving back safe and sound. Despite having been sat down all day I am exhausted - I suspect nerves are to blame. As I sink into my bed I am struck by a girl alone in the Big City moment of homesickness, but it soon passes and I fall asleep looking forward to my next day.

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