A behind the scenes guide to studying at News Associates: Seven weeks into my fast-track course

From news meetings with The Times assistant editor and the Daily Mail contributing editor, to mojo day and standing in George Osborne’s office, our fast-track trainees have had an eventful start to their journalism course in London.

We love catching up with our journalism trainees as they undertake their NCTJ Diploma in Multimedia Journalism at News Associates – officially the UK’s number one NCTJ school.

Already know it’s the career for you? Apply now to study on our fast-track, part-time or sports journalism course.

Here, News Associates journalism trainee Ellie McKinnell tells us how she’s found the first seven weeks of her course

“My favourite thing about the News Associates NCTJ course is that you’re thrown into the deep end straight away.

In just our second week we were tasked with producing a South West Londoner e-edition from scratch. We were put into groups, given patches and sent on our way!

I think we did a pretty good job but you can judge our efforts below.

Other challenges over the last few weeks have included a mobile journalism day, compiling the first few (hypothetical) pages of the Evening Standard and live reporting Theresa May’s Conservative Party Conference speech.

I have found these practical sessions so useful alongside our everyday lessons. You’ll find yourself sitting in class listening to the dos and don’ts of interviewing, thinking it’s obvious, only to find yourself making those same mistakes. It’s the best way to learn the lesson – after messing up once there’s no way you’ll do it again.

We cover every detail you’ll need throughout you career, from the essential knowledge of media law and public affairs, to the best way to present yourself on social media and how to film interviews on your phone.

Part of the beauty of this course is that you never know what’s coming next. Timetables are sent on a week-by-week basis, so the Friday afternoon email revealing what next week has in store is always exciting.

You might be thrilled to see a talk from a top celebrity interviewer or relieved to see you only have three shorthand lessons.

With the ex-managing editor of a national newspaper teaching reporting and one of Britain’s most accomplished crime reporters teaching media law, you are literally being taught by the people at the top.

But don’t worry – despite their credentials they are very approachable and natural teachers.

Networking may be one of your great fears, but as a journalist it is essential to compile a long list of contacts.

Studying at News Associates gets you invites to some great events, including talks by the BBC director general and the ex-editor of the Times.

I’ve found myself talking to the editor-in-chief of The Press Association and standing in George Osborne’s office at some of these events, so they really are not to be missed.

Even if you don’t make it to the events, regular speakers come in to give talks on a wide range of journalism topics, giving you an idea of what is on offer after you get your diploma – from features and showbiz to working at a press agency or even the Home Office.

You also get the chance to speak to recent News Associate graduates, who know exactly what you’re going through and can give you practical advice on what to do next.

They are also physical proof of the success of past trainees!

We spend a day a week on placement at a newspaper, magazine or agency to give us a taste of real life journalism.

There is nothing quite like seeing your name in print for the first time and watching your story go from conception to publication. These placements sometimes even result in a front page splash, as well as an opportunity to cover national events and practise some court reporting.

Our classes are made up of about 30 students, allowing us to build a network of no doubt future editors but also giving us the chance to learn from each other and work as a team.

You will be told time and time again that the course is intense, and it’s true. But speaking as someone who generally doesn’t like hard work, this doesn’t feel like work – if you really want to be a journalist you will find each day makes you want it more.

I know my training at News Associates is the perfect thing to set me up for a career in journalism and after only seven weeks on the course I already feel ready to be put in the heart of a newsroom.”

Follow in Ellie’s footsteps and apply now.