At King Alfred’s Academy, Wantage, work experience plays a big part in year 10. This is because it gives you an opportunity to determine what you would like to do when you finish school.
I chose to do my work experience with Penny at Penny Post, because my aspiration in life is to be a war reporter (Penny Post hasn’t, so far, covered any wars but it covers a lot of other things.) My mother has always taught me that to get to the top of the ladder you have to start at the bottom. So, working for a local media company seemed the perfect place to start. Little did I realise that over the next nine days I would learn about and use several pieces of software, write two articles, make a video, attend business meetings and appear on a radio show.
Penny jumped straight into teaching me how to edit photos, videos, articles, how to make tutorial videos and how to publish an article. Everything I learnt are the basics of what is key to know, if you run an online newspaper. As part of my learning experience I also helped make a video tutorial about how to publish events and articles on the Penny Post website.
Penny then asked me to write an article about something I am passionate about.I’d just come back from Morocco with school, so I thought talking about my trip would be great. It was challenging to stay focused for a long period of time, but being in a working environment helped me to concentrate on my work. Brian then read over my article King Alfred’s trip to Morocco 2019, and helped me to improve it.
Our morning consisted of interviewing care workers at Richmond Village Care Home in Letcombe Regis and videoing their results. This is because Penny had been asked to make a video to promote the need for more care workers. (The country is currently short of over 40,000 care workers which it is an increasingly serious problem.)
Next, we popped down the road to Letcombe Bassett to interview local historian Charles Rowe, who showed us the site where 26 skeletons (Roman and Iron Age) were found when Thames Water were excavating ground for their new water pipe.
Charles is petitioning for the skeletons, after they have been anaylsed, to be buried back in Letcombe Bassett with two plaques – one in Celtic (the language Iron Age people would have spoken) and the other in Latin (for the Roman remains).
We interviewed and videoed Charles whilst he showed us around the archeological site under the scorching sun. As you can see from the picture, he was wise enough to wear a sun hat but I wasn’t – another thing I’ve learned this week.
Later that day, Penny and I attended an event at King Alfred’s West Site, where I spoke briefly to everyone there about what work experience means to me and what I’ve gained from going to the Houses of Parliament, and working with Penny at Penny Post. That night, I learnt how to mingle with other business men and women. I learnt how to talk to people, even when you don’t know that slightest about what their occupation is and consists of.
Wednesday morning was an early rise. We attended the Business Breakfast Club meeting in Ardington. It was eye-opening to hear about other people’s businesses and what they need to do to make them thrive. I had a delicious breakfast, where I talked to a rowing coach who likes to teach adult beginners. He gave me some great pointers to achieving your dreams.
We then went home and I wrote another article. This time it was about my sport, Modern Pentathlon. It took a very long time to put together and I didn’t even finish it on that day! But it was great to understand the time and effort all journalists have to put in when they write an article.
After that, Penny drove us to Newbury where we listened to a climate change talk about the rainforest. This was presented by Ben Vickers who grew up in Newbury, but now lives in Bangkok and works for the UN Food and Agriculture Commission. After the talk we went to the West Berkshire Green Exchange annual social evening which brings the community together to talk further about what can be done to tackle climate change. This ended at 10pm, but was definitely worth listening to.
Analysing that day, I learnt to always ask questions and interact with people, don’t give blunt answers so you want to keep the conversation flowing. Also, by watching Penny engage with other businesses, I’ve learnt that finding job opportunities is much easier when you’re well known, have a good reputation and multiple contacts.
Following a long and productive day, Penny gave me the chance to work from home. My job was to start writing this article and transcribe everything Charles had said in the videos Penny had taken of him. I had to be proactive with Penny via email, as we were having difficulty exchanging the videos, but we found a way to do it. When working from home it’s easy to get distracted (I was using the same devices for the work as I do for my own social media) so I had to keep my concentration going to get through the tasks. I had to remember that I was working for people who have a business to run and were relying on me.
I was very excited about this day and been looking forward to it all week. This is because every Friday, Penny and Brian present a show on 4 LEGS radio. And this week, they started the show by interviewing me!
I was answering questions about Modern Pentathlon and my career in sport (listen to the show here from 14 minutes in)
Afterwards, I sat back and watched Penny and Brian interview Alison Whistler from Horsey Lightly solicitors about how she helps couples who are splitting up.
After the radio show finished we went back to the house to finish off and published my article about Modern Pentathlon. Then we drove back to Wantage and I helped Penny film a video of us touring around the Vale and Downland Wantage Museum. It was so much fun and a great way to finish a brilliant day.
It took us about four hours to edit and cut the museum video down to the right amount of time it needed to be. We wanted it to be under 60 seconds so we could post it on Instagram. I learnt a lot about patience and how to use Premier (the industry-standard programme for editing videos). It was so much fun and I’m really pleased with what we’ve finished with. Personally, I think we did a great job and I love the video so much.
Have a look at it here:
My last and final day of work experience started with a meeting at Vale & Downland Museum about the video we made. They were as happy with it as we were.
Then we walked over to Betjeman Park to interview the park’s trustees and two student trustees from King Alfred’s Academy.
It was great to see the park again. It’s been kept well and the nature looks and sounds amazing. I got to use the microphone so that my voice and the interviewees voice projected loudly.
It was very interesting to hear about the park and what activities they hold there and the contribution that King Alfred’s students are making..
When we got back to Penny and Brian’s house, I finished off the article that I’m writing now in the garden. It was 30 degrees, so sitting in the shade, in the garden, with the chickens and the cats, was wonderfully peaceful.
I am very lucky to have done my work experience with Penny. She has been an amazing mentor and I couldn’t have wished to do my work experience anywhere else.
I have learnt several things in the last seven days, including to be courageous with my writing and to ask questions about things I don’t understand – no question is frivolous if the answer tells you something you didn’t know.