• Mariam Gevorkian

Journalist Intern & Political Correspondant Shout Out U.K - Blog Post

Updated: Oct 7, 2019

I was particularly thrilled when I came across an opportunity for an internship placement at Shout Out UK; a youth network company which aims to engage the youth in politics through the provision of political literacy education. Yet the company does so much more than its initial agenda. With their slogan ‘The Voice of The Next Generation’, Shout Out also provide an online platform for individuals to engage and involve themselves in. Various types of workshops at communities and schools are also held - aimed to overall educate and engage with society members.

As their intern, I was given various roles and responsibilities. This involved; being press, managing social media accounts, filling out data bases, writing articles, carrying out research and assisting in workshops. These roles enabled me to develop a spectrum of various skills, with some giving me a kick start into my aspiring profession of being a journalist. The following blog gives an account of my internship experience.

I have given particular attention to the development of the following skills, which I was able to exercise and master during the course of my internship: (1) Managing tasks, (2) Working with, and relating to, others, (3) Applying my own initiative, (4) Writing and Research skills and (4) Communicating effectively and clearly. These skills also enabled me to improve with more general skills such as keeping a positive attitude and having business and customer awareness.

Although it only requires me to take two trains, it takes a total of 1 hour and 50 minutes to get to Shout Out’s Office. I felt rather tense on my first commute as I was adamant to arrive on time despite not having a clue of where I was going as I had never used the Jubilee Line or entered the Borough of Kingsbury before. After I successfully found the office and managed to arrive on perfect timing, I was warmly greeted by Kat, who showed me the way to the office. Kat who is the Public Relations Officer, introduced me to Mateo the CEO Founder, as well as Lucie, the Education Coordinator. To my surprise, the office was rather compact in size as it only contained 3 desks and a small corner desk (intended for interns). Yet the compact ambience enabled a sense of comfort to reside in the room as it was easy to communicate with everyone which instantly made me feel at ease. With my aspirations of becoming a journalist, I have always been instinctively prone to ask investigative questions. Hence on my first account with the Founder Matteo Bergamini, I asked him what invigorated him to start up Shout Out UK. To my advantage, his response exceedingly resonated with my own perspective of the new generation needing to engage with politics and being more informed on day to day issues. Following this pleasant introduction with the company and staff members, I went straight in to work.

Kat gave me instructions to set up an online account which would enable me to hand in any articles/reports, complete a calendar of my availability and have access to a staff portal. She introduced me to my responsibility of managing the social media pages for Shout Out and gave me a list of tasks to carry out ongoingly for the next couple of weeks. Indeed, this was a great way to warm up to my internship position as I was able to work at my own pace whilst gaining insight to the social media operations of the company. Managing the social media of Shout Out (Twitter and Instagram) was particularly easy for me as I have social media myself.

This responsibility mainly involved following accounts and was in correspondence to the task she set me of filling out two excel documents listing influential journalists as well as organisations that could potentially form partnerships with Shout Out. The excel files included contact details, basic company information, and work the journalists have produced which aligns with political education as well as project endeavors by the organisations. This task was intended to expand Shout Out’s data base of contacts who will be contacted by Kat in order to form a partnership. The tasks involved me applying specialist knowledge of social media, as I had to browse through the list of followers Shout Out had and identify the legitimate accounts of potential clients who could cooperate with the company.

Throughout this opportunity I demonstrated my ability of managing tasks as I was filling out two excel spread sheets at the same time and also engaging with followers through social media. This position also enabled me to communicate clearly and effectively with Kat who assisted me with any questions I had regarding the suitability of organisations Shout Out could partner with. Accordingly, I was very selective of the journalists and organisations as I wanted the spread sheets to consist of highly relevant and useful clients. This task enabled me to participate in the growing the network of Shout Out as the spreadsheets I created were to be used by the company to reach out and expand their business. This work also demonstrated my sense of judgment and ability to take initiative as I was in charge of the clients Shout Out UK would contact to promote their political literacy courses and other services to. I also practiced business and customer awareness since I remained consciences of the organisations and journalists I selected by carrying out extensive research on them before filling out the data base with their details. Overall this task gave me great responsibility and made me feel like I was officially part of the company.

Towards the end of my first day Kat also set me the task of writing an article that would be published on Shout Out UK’s website and social media. After I had spent the day engaging with the social media platform, I felt rather nervous about publishing my first article since I was aware of how wide Shout Out’s reach was on social media. Nevertheless, it all fell together perfectly when I discovered that there was going to be a talk held at my university by a charity called Free Lunch 4 Children (FL4C) - a leading NGO making changes to the charity scene in China. I attended the talk later that same week and wrote an article which was then published on social media platforms the following week.

This task demonstrated my ability to take initiative since I made the most out of the talk being held at university and also carried out extensive research as well as attending the talk. As this was alongside my university studies, it also indicated my ability to multi-task and be dedicated to my internship position as well as education. As my internship progressed to the second and third week, I was given more tasks to do with research and the political workshops held by Shout Out. I was asked to carry out extensive research on the current PSHE Criteria for schools. Shout Out have been expanding their courses to also include PSHE education which would entail teaching about sexual health in a detailed yet beneficial way. This task entailed me paying close attention to the curriculum and aligning ways that Shout Out could deliver certain aspects through workshops and courses. I formed a document outlining how the criteria could be reached through different activities, strategies and discussions. I also listed topics which would be useful to focus on that are not taught in schools, including; consent, contracting STD’s and visiting sexual clinics. This task demonstrated my ability to manage tasks as I was also focussing on Shout Out’s social media page.

Another task I was assigned was creating a group activity for the political literacy course. This required me to apply specialist initiative and knowledge to what would be simple yet useful for young students to learn and engage with in terms of politics. I applied my own knowledge of the basics of politics and executed an activity whereby pupils in groups would have to attempt to identify the definition to different political systems and also try to match the countries with their correct political system. Although I had to create the activity myself, I was working alongside Lucie, who provided me with guidance. This required team work and effective communication as I had to speak about my ideas to her first in order to gain her approval.

As I was finishing the activity, I was asked whether I was free to attend a Road Safety Workshop later on during the day. Thankfully I had no other commitments but I felt unsettled at the last-minute request of me attending the workshop because I didn’t feel prepared. Nevertheless, I was adamant to demonstrating my reliability hence I maintained a positive attitude and before I knew it, me and Lucie arrived at Hoxton Community Centre. Following a brief introduction to the basics of road safety, we set up the VRG (Virtual Reality Glasses) programme which gave insight to a real car accident, with viewers experiencing the incident happening from the passenger seat. The VRG programme was intended to educate viewers on the dangers of road crossing. This demonstrated my ability to engage with younger individuals by being positive and approachable as well as also providing assistance to Lucie.

Despite enjoying the range of tasks I would be set to do in the office, it wasn’t until I attended Parliament during my fourth week that I really valued my internship experience. I was a representative for Shout Out UK in the conferences; “A Vision for Public Legal Education (PLE) ” & “the Rule of Law Parliamentary Privilege and the Rule of Law”. Having never entered Parliament I felt quite nervous and was worried about looking out of place however I just had to remind myself that I am a journalist and it was my job to represent Shout Out to the best of my ability! I have to admit that the first conference was more interesting as it related more with Shout Out UK, hence I was able to engage more with asking questions and being an effective representative.

The first session was led by Solicitor General Robert Buckland, who spoke of the importance of PLE towards educating and involving citizens in the political justice system and addressing the issue of "The British public profoundly lacking in ‘legal capability’”; the knowledge, skills and confidence to resolve issues in their daily lives. This agenda strongly resonated with Shout Out’s motives of teaching people about their legal rights, responsibilities and overall encouraging a social change to commence by diffusing the sense of disparity between politics and ordinary people. My initial task was to create a report for Shout Out UK summarising how ways Shout Out could intervene with the PLE scheme. As I was very familiar with the interchangeable agenda’s, I was able to give spot light to the work Shout Out does and enable a panel discussion of how PLE could potentially cooperate with Shout Out to further achieve its agenda. This task showed my ability to take initiative and ask the right questions through effective communication with the panel.

Although the first conference was a great success, during the second one I wasn’t able to maneuverer with the same approach as it was based around a topic that didn’t have much regard to Shout Out UK. I took initiative on this and communicated clearly and effectively with the office. I discussed that I was immensely grateful for the opportunity but that I required more direction prior attending the talks so that I could be an effective asset to the company instead of simply turning up for the conference as part of Press. In addition, although the first conference was successful in terms of engagement and representation, it was largely based off of me taking initiative as I wasn’t directed to do anything myself apart from creating a report for Shout Out UK’s records. Yet I asked questions when it was discussion time, made connections with other attendees and also wrote an article for my own blog. Throughout this opportunity I was able to make full use of the conference and take my own direction with the press position as I was given.

My communication with Shout Out was very effective as in the following week I was assigned to be a delegate to a conference which had more solid direction in terms of what my role would be. The conference was held in Westminister in celebration of the 100 years since women got the vote and became involved in UK politics. One of the features of the conference was a session held by Aysha Esakji, a Community Coordinator. The session involved delegates discussing the issue of isolation in society that of particular affecting women. She centralised her work shop towards the phrasing "hard 2 reach women" and asked delegates to form answers to questions which would be forwarded to the House of Lords as part of policy formation against the issue. Being from a minority background myself, I have often noticed a sense of detachment from politics residing in my own community. I was able to voice to the other delegates and effectively the house of lords, how this issue could be tackled by integrating political speakers into the heart of communities to spread political values. This indeed sparked further conversation amongst the women there and led to focus being shed on ethnic minorities.

I also took initiative and wrote an article called “Is ‘hard to reach’ a negative phrase” in correspondence to a discussion voiced by a city councillor who was also a delegate at the conference. She indicated that the phrase is negative and isn’t effective towards lighting a path towards political engagement. I also discussed this on my radio show (on insanity radio 103.2) and debated whether the term is negative or an accurate phrase to use; essentially are these women hard to reach or are they just easy to ignore? Combining my conference meeting with my radio show enabled me to approach my work in an investigative journalistic manner. This also enabled me to apply specialist knowledge and deliver a quality debate with my guest as my discussion was enriched with expertise on the topic area of women representation and engagement in politics due to my attendance at the conference.

All in all, I have had great privilege so far attending the events in Parliament and Westminster as well as completing tasks I have been set in my role as managing social media and expanding the contact list of Shout Out UK. I have been able to develop many skills but more importantly, I have been able to adopt the work ethic and mindset of a journalist. As this is my future job prospect, this internship has served me an irreplaceable experience so far. I cannot wait to see what else my job position at Shout Out will entail.