Case study

Senior staff magazine writer — Henry Burrell

Henry used his American studies degree to enter the world of computer journalism. Find out how he secured his position

How did you come to write for magazines?

I applied for the position having already worked in business-to-business tech PR, but I knew that eventually journalism was going to be the right career for me.

I currently write for PC Advisor and Macworld UK, part of the IDG UK group.

What's a typical day like as a staff writer?

A typical day involves writing product reviews for phones, tablets and computers, while updating existing content on our sites to make sure it remains relevant to the user.

What do you enjoy about working in computer journalism?

I enjoy using and reviewing tech and providing readers with the best possible advice as to whether or not it's worth parting with their money. There's so much tech out there, and not all of it is great.

What are the challenges?

The challenges are remaining fair in a review; just because I think a quirky tablet with a stylus is great it doesn't mean I should recommend it outright to everyone reading.

Also, we have thousands of articles online that need constant revision in order to remain helpful to readers. The process of updating also helps page views, which is very important as we enter the post-print era.

Is your degree relevant to your job as a journalist?

I studied American studies at the University of East Anglia (UEA), and while it may not be immediately obvious how this fits with my current role, for me, my degree is hugely relevant and I wouldn't have recognised, or had the confidence to pursue my dream career without it.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

I hope to be in a position in editorial journalism that I find as rewarding as the one I currently have.

A bit more seniority and responsibility is good for you, and I hope to earn these privileges.

How did you get your first position, the one in PR?

I got the job through the company's own graduate scheme. Luckily for me this was a paid role, but I would still recommend saying 'yes' to internships where possible. That's not to say you should do them back-to-back for five years, but my current line manager began as an intern, and is now quite senior in the company.

What advice can you give to others?

Don't dismiss job opportunities straight after university simply because they aren't your first choice. I worked in tech PR for nearly two years and I can safely say I wouldn't be in my current role without the experience and lessons I learned there.

I had to keep writing after I graduated as I feared losing the passion. So even when I was job hunting, I wrote for a music review site and ran my own football blog, which gave me a bit of daily structure while reminding me that this is what I wanted to do.

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