Interviews – Media – Andrea Coleman

Andrea Coleman, 22, is an editorial assistant for Institutional Finance at Financial Times Business, a division of the The Financial Times that covers newsstand and trade publications such as The Investors Chronicle

What is your role within the company?
I do the administration for about twenty-five people including editors and reporters, on various different trades magazines: Pensions Management, Pensions Week, European Pensions News and Mandate Magazine.

How did you get the job?
I started three months ago straight from university. I saw an advertisement in The Guardian media section and sent off my CV. As a result I had two interviews, which were pretty nerve racking as I knew very little about finance. After the first round I was asked to write two articles and assess the work of other papers which we discussed at the second interview. I hadn’t written to any great extent before but I had work experience with The Guardian and The Literary Review.

What does an average day involve?
I’ll open the post, type up letters and look through the papers to cut out articles that would be of use to the various editors. I might send out mailshots, but I’ll also be given news articles to write. I’ve also been given a few features, which I’m proud of because when I started I knew very little about the specialised area of finance. I love the writing, but sometimes there’s an awful lot of administration.

What are your hours?
9.30am or 10am until 5.30pm, but staying later is virtually unvoidable. There is a very strong work ethic, but I think that’s because people enjoy their work. There are also about three evening drinks parties a week, which are good fun and an opportunity to meet new people.

What is the next career rung after editorial assistant?
The next level after editorial assistant is reporter, features writer or possibly staff writer. This deals with far less administration; I’d be writing news or the occasional feature. You can expect to be promoted after about four months. This isn’t automatic, but seems to be the average. However, this doesn’t mean you’ll automatically receive a correlative increase in your salary.

What sort of characteristics does someone in your role need?
As an editorial assistant you need to be able to manage your time well because you are getting work from five different people. There are four editors and a publisher who all give me work to do. You also need confidence to ask people like bankers to explain themselves more clearly when you perhaps don’t know very much about their subject. You also have to learn to cut out the industry jargon in order to express yourself in your writing as clearly as possible. At first I found this terrifying but it’s exciting to realise that you are constantly learning.

What advice would you give to graduates looking to find a job in journalism?
I think financial journalism is possibly easier to get into than other forms of journalism because there are so many positions available. Financial journalism is a good place to start if you like the challenge of getting your head around a new subject. There are also a lot of opportunities for career progression. I don’t think you necessarily need to know about the financial world to get a job, but before you go to interview it would make sense to read all the papers so you know about all sorts of current affairs. In my first interview I was asked to draw a map of Europe but I faltered after Belgium! After that I went away and read the papers almost religiously.

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