Creating an interactive CV on Storify

Storify launched in 2010 and is used to tell stories by pulling content from all over the web, mainly from social media channels, into one scrollable post. It’s a great way to keep track of stories as they develop over time, or to bring together reactions and responses to a particular event.

Towards the end of my degree, I started playing around with Storify and thought it would be a great resource to transform my CV from a one-dimensional list of achievements into an interactive experience. Instead of sending off my CV as an email attachment and linking to numerous examples across the web, I wanted to have everything in one place (and to show off a little bit).

After publishing my interactive CV and sharing a link on Twitter, it even caught the eye of the Head of Digital at a national charity, who invited me to apply for a vacancy on their digital team. I didn’t get the job, unfortunately, but I gained some valuable interview experience and was told that my Storify CV had added an exciting element to my application.

Storify is amazingly flexible and it’s as simple as dragging different items into place. You can also input your own text anywhere within the post, which really gives you the chance to let your dazzling personality shine through. I structured my Storify CV by asking myself questions usually posed during job interviews, but have a play around and see what works for you.

Interested in taking your CV interactive on Storify? Here’s how:

1. Head over to Storify. You can create a new account, or you can log in using your Twitter or Facebook details.
2. At the top right corner, click ‘Create Story’.
3. On the right-hand side, search for content from all over the web using the different tabs – Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc. – or click on the hyperlink tab to embed a URL.
4. Once you have what you’re looking for, simply drag the content into the post on the left. Don’t worry about where you place it as you can move it around later.
5. Click between different pieces of content to write something and use the toolbar on the top left to edit your text, or add a hyperlink
6. When you’ve finished, click on ‘Publish’ at the top and share your interactive on Twitter or Facebook.

Hint: If you link to Twitter accounts from your Storify post, you can choose to notify those users that they’ve been quoted in your story when you publish.

And if you want to see what my interactive CV looks like, check it out here.

This post originally appeared on Wannabe Hacks

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What I’ve learnt about ‘networking’

Networking is one of those things we all know we ought to do, but the thought of it fills us with dread. And if you’re new to the industry, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here’s a list of a few things I’ve learnt while trying to make new contacts.

Go to an event

This sounds easy enough but you’re not going to stumble into that great opportunity by slobbing on the couch and watching endless episodes of Breaking Bad, are you? It doesn’t have to be specifically labelled as a ‘networking event’ either. Open lectures and debates, film screenings and casual meet-ups all present great opportunities to meet new people. And if you find that you simply don’t hear about such events, sign up to a few newsletters and make sure you follow all the right people on Twitter. Following @journalismnews is a great place to start.

Take a friend

‘Safety in numbers’ definitely applies here. I’ve been to a couple of networking events on my own and the temptation to stand in the corner, endlessly refresh my Twitter feed and hope other people will come and talk to me is overwhelming. Take a friend and you’ll already have someone else to talk to when a contact you’ve made goes to get another drink, or wanders off because they’ve decided you’re not interesting enough to carry on talking to. And it’s so much easier to approach that producer from the BBC with a trusty sidekick…

Ask questions

Although you’re probably at a networking event to sell yourself a little bit and see what opportunities there are for you, don’t spend the whole time talking about yourself. So many people are doing amazing things within the world of journalism and a networking event is a great place to learn all about them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The more intuitive and engaged you are, the more you’ll be remembered.

Be contactable

Even if you’re still looking for a job, it’s worth investing in some personal business cards. Scrap pieces of paper with random names and numbers on can easily be lost in coat jackets or mistaken for rubbish and thrown away. People take care of business cards. You can usually find some good deals on Moo or Vistaprint and you’ll only need between 50 and 100 cards for starters.

Know your limits

This one applies to alcohol. Many of these events will take place in a bar or involve some sort of alcoholic refreshment. Sometimes, the alcohol is even free. Hurray! But here’s the golden rule: Don’t drink too much. The last thing you want is to be known as that one young’un who had one drink too many and ended up spouting a load of nonsense as everyone around you stared at the floor willing you to shut up. Know your limits and stick to them. Or just have lemonade.

This post originally appeared on Wannabe Hacks.

Richard Pendry on war reporting: ‘You know when you’re being shot at’ – interview

I spoke to Richard Pendry, who has reported from conflicts in Chechnya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria as a freelance journalist and was a member of Frontline Television News in the 90s, to take a look at the world of war reporting in recognition of Remembrance Day.

After graduating from a degree in Russian, you worked as a freelancer in Russia during the 90s. What made you decide to cover the war?

The point where I realised that I really wanted to cover the war in Chechnya was when we found a story about some Russian paratroopers who had been dropped in the mountains during the early stages of the First Chechen War. They’d been told that they were looking for Jihadi fighters … and they eventually came across some Chechen shepherds who they captured quite easily. But then the relatives of the shepherds came and they captured this group of supposedly elite Russian troops… We were talking to these Russian soldiers, who were 18/19 years old; they’d been sent off to fight this war they didn’t understand and when they’d radioed their base and said they were coming under fire, the response from their superiors was not to send helicopters to get them out, but to send some bombers over, and they bombed the position that the Russian soldiers had radioed from. I really understood at that point something very important about the absolute lack of regard that the Russian military had for their own troops, let alone all the civilians that were being killed in their hundreds in the middle of Grozny.

More recently, you spent some time on the Syrian border over the summer, can you tell us a bit about that?

I ended up going to a town on the border [between Turkey and Syria], which normally is full of freelancers staying in one particular hotel called the Hotel Istanbul. I turned up and it became apparent that there was no one around because there were so many people being kidnapped on the other side of the border that people had stopped staying in the hotel, and they’d stopped going through that town. I spent two days trying to work out what the hell I was going to do and [thinking]: “Should I even be there in the first place?”

I ended up talking to the fixers that were suspected of being involved in the kidnapping gangs. One had a story about two French journalists who had been kidnapped when he was with them, and they were still missing. He was actually implicated in another kidnap case, so that was two sets of journalists that had gone missing that he was looking after. It may or may not have just been coincidence [but] it was difficult for people to trust him.

Do you think war reporting attracts a certain type of journalist?

There are an awful lot of people who are quite attracted to the ‘living on the edge’ kind of thing, I suppose. I remember coming back from one trip in Chechnya and I went straight from the airport to a nightclub because I realised I’d get the last six hours of Trade [an after hours club]. That was the life that I was living at the particular point, and I wouldn’t be the only one.

It attracts a particular kind of person… You might feel like you’re some kind of specialised tourist, and it’s really interesting. Foreign reporting is not regulated like covering Westminster or covering British stories. You’ve got much more freedom.

Covering wars, you must see a large number of people in need of help. How do you approach those situations?

In Chechnya, we were hurrying to get out of the city centre before dark and so was everybody else. We practically stepped on one old lady who’d just fallen over. Peter [Jouvenal, fellow Frontline journalist] helped her up and insisted that we helped them [the woman and her sister] back to their apartment. We found their other sister who was in the cupboard, hiding.

When we went back the next day they were still in the cupboard. We did a story about these three women in their apartment and you could hear all the munitions exploding outside, and their story made it onto the 6 ‘o clock and 9 o’clock news, and Newsnight. Not only was it the right thing to do to help these women but we also got a story out of it. But it also felt a bit odd: “Should we help these women at the time or should we get out and save our skins and not stick around in this very dangerous area?”

A number of journalists working for Frontline died while reporting from conflicts. What is it like to lose a peer while doing your job?

Martin Adler’s death was a shock. I’d filmed him for one of the Rory Peck awards, which he won [and] I ended up teaching him yoga in London. He wanted something positive to do when he was in war zones and there was nothing happening, because lots of people just end up drinking far too much. I was on a plane coming back from filming Ross Kemp On Gangs and Richard Parry told me that Martin had been killed. It was a shock, but not really a surprise unfortunately. To be grown up about it, the more time you spend in these places, the more chance there is that you’ll be killed or injured and that’s just part of it, I’m afraid.

Do you think that the changing nature of war will deter people from reporting conflicts in the future?

War reporting is really confusing, by its nature. There are a lot of very stressed people who are in a very difficult situation, particularly if they’re under fire or if there are people being killed or injured. It’s very hard to know what’s going on. That’s one reason why it’s good to be with people that you know and trust. People who are reporting wars need to be on-the-ball and really switched on in a way that they didn’t have to be 20 years ago. You can’t go to Syria and not have your wits about you. You need to think about digital security, staying off Skype and Facebook, and not tweeting. You need to have proper contingency plans for if you get into trouble.

I would never discourage people from wanting to be a war reporter. It sounds flippant, but the only problems are being blown to bits by artillery or a missile or being shot by a sniper. But those are quantifiable risks. You know when you’re being shot at. But more recently, access to rebel-controlled areas has been very limited because so many people are being kidnapped… Staff people haven’t been covering Syria as much as previous conflicts. People spend weeks planning trips to go into Syria, only to find that their security precautions suddenly don’t work and then people get kidnapped… So it’s been easier to let freelancers get on and take the burden on themselves. But on the other hand, news organisations are making it more difficult for freelancers to sell their work because there’s a real worry that a news organisation that commissions a freelancer, even just fleetingly, is going to be responsible for the freelancer when they get kidnapped… It’s a paradox.

This post originally appeared on Wannabe Hacks.

Wannabe Hack (officially)

After spending most of the summer working in the restaurant, pulling 7-shift (50+ hour) weeks to cover other people’s holidays, I haven’t had much time to write, in any capacity. I feel like I’ve totally neglected my food blog, through not having any time to try out new places to eat, and then through not having any time to write about it.

I’ve totally neglected this blog too. I’ve written down so many ideas of things to write about but when I finally got round to it, whatever it was didn’t seem topical anymore, like the subject had already run its course and everything worth saying had been said.

Needless to say, my lack of writing and the fact that I was getting no further with job applications left me feeling pretty disheartened, which is why I made the decision back in September to change direction a little bit and embark on a TEFL qualification. I completed the first 20-hour intensive weekend course at the beginning of October, and now I have 100 more hours of online work to complete before I receive my qualification.

Around the same time, I was successful in my application to join the team behind Wannabe Hacks, a fantastic website offering advice, in-depth analysis and comment on important issues, and the opportunity to discuss and debate with like-minded young journalists. Wannabe Hacks was a fantastic resource for me when I was studying and I’m thrilled to be joining the team. Today, I spent several hours brainstorming and researching for post ideas, and spent even longer filming an (embarrassing) introductory video which will appear on the website in the next few weeks. I’m going to see how it turns out before I decide whether or not to link to it here…

All this considered, I’ve cut back on my hours at the restaurant – frugality resumes – so that not only do I have time for all these new things, but that I have the time to do them well.

And luckily, it seems to be a rather exciting time in the journalism world for job opportunities – especially now that summer is well and truly over – so with any luck I’ll have some more good news in the not-too-distant future.

In the meantime, I will be studying the best ways to teach different English grammar points while also thinking of some exciting multimedia/data projects and articles for Wannabe Hacks. And if you’re a young and/or aspiring journalist reading this and there are things you want to see on the Wannabe Hacks website, let me know and I’ll do my best to make sure we cover it.

New projects

I think it’s about time for an update.

At the time of my last blog post, I was unemployed and miserable. Now, I am employed and trucking on nicely with life – hurrah! After two months of receiving a pitiful Job Seeker’s Allowance, I decided enough was enough and headed out to do another round of the bars and restaurants in my area, handing out CVs. Two days later I had a waitressing job at the Newman Street Tavern in Fitzrovia (and now I have some money to my name).

Inspired by all the amazing food and wine I serve all day, I have since started a blog over on Tumblr called Wine Dine Write – please head on over and check it out. It’s still early days but I have a number of posts in the pipeline, including a review of Mele e Pere in Soho and an account of my first experience in a cutlery-less Eritrean restaurant in Battersea.

Towards the end of May, I entered the Guardian’s International Development Journalism Competition with a piece I wrote on women’s land rights in Rwanda. Unfortunately, I didn’t make the short list or the long list (a piece on women’s land rights in Kenya did, however, so clearly my idea was along the right lines!) but I really enjoyed writing the piece and I’m really proud of it. I would like to thank Helen Pankhurst, Lata Narayanaswamy and Vivenie Mugunga for taking the time to talk to me and for sharing their insights – without these amazing women I wouldn’t have had an article at all. I’ve uploaded my article here, should you wish to read it.

I’ve also started interning two days a week at Africa Confidential, a news website and fortnightly newsletter on politics, economics and security issues in Africa. I am really enjoying my placement so far, guided by the insanely knowledgable deputy editor, Andrew Weir.

I’m still looking and applying for more permanent and full-time roles as a reporter or journalist, but I am thankfully in a much happier place than I was a couple of months ago!

The unemployed youth of today

Just over a month ago, I wrote a blog post about the agonising process of applying for jobs. Well, I am still unemployed and what was once agonising is now depressing, de-motivating and completely soul-destroying. To date, I have applied for over 60 jobs – all jobs I am perfectly qualified for and know I would do well. The sun is out and it’s getting warmer but I am still jobless.

Last year, I saw a segment on the news about high depression rates among the unemployed. The reporter visited a young man who had been unemployed and looking for jobs for over a year. His self-confidence was shattered, he hardly left the house and after so many rejections, his motivation to apply for more jobs barely even existed. I am beginning to know exactly how he feels.

I am now receiving Job Seeker’s Allowance – an amazing, life-changing amount of £56.80* a week – but even my advisor can’t help me or tell me to do something I’m not already doing to find a job. I apply for a minimum of seven jobs a week, go to the job centre once a fortnight to sign a piece of paper, and leave feeling weary and deflated.

To make matters worse, there have been so many newspaper articles, and TV and radio programmes in the last few weeks about the difficulties faced by the ‘Unemployed Youth of Today’: about how difficult it is ‘out there in the real world’, about how there are too many people and not enough jobs, and about how, if you just stick at it and keep your head up, something will come along.

They are right, and something will come along, eventually. But as my bank balance dwindles as quickly as my self-confidence and I get closer to having to ask my parents for financial help, all I want to do is scream: “Shut up! You have no idea what it’s like!” at the newspaper/television/radio.

Not to blow my own trumpet, but, I have two degrees, I’ve been doing relevant (unpaid)** internships and work experience placements for three years. I’m bright, competent and switched-on. So why does nobody want to hire me? I recently received feedback on an application for a trainee reporter position at a local London newspaper. The editor I spoke to told me he couldn’t see any reason why I had not made the shortlist – it was simply because they’d had more than 100 applications and he’d had to narrow those down to just five people for the interview stage. Too many people, not enough jobs.

But, I am not going to let this bring me down. I am stepping up my game. I am going to seek out every freelance writing job there is and I’m going to blog more. And if the worst comes to the worst, I’ll do another round of the bars, restaurants and cafés in my area with my CV in search of anything I can do that isn’t sitting in my flat, applying for job after job.

So if you are reading this and you have any suggestions of how I can make my applications stand out or how I can make sure I am one of the five people in one hundred who are asked to interview, if you know of any freelancing work going or if you actually want to hire me, please leave a comment or send me an email.

Thanks for reading :)

* That’s a whole other discussion all-together.

** And so is that one.

Featured image courtesy of George Lane

Job hunt agony

Applying for jobs is an agonising business. I’m not just talking about rejections or the numerous applications that go completely unanswered. It’s the entire process, and the worst part is repeatedly having to evaluate yourself, your skills, your experience and your personality.

Since I started applying for jobs again, my brain has been whirring away with questions and doubts.

  • Am I looking at all the right job websites?
  • When did I last check Gorkana, or Production Base?
  • Do I only apply for the jobs I actually want or should I settle for anything I’m qualified for if it’s good money?
  • What would happen if I just called up Alan Rusbridger and pleaded with him for a job?
  • What do I actually want to do? Do I want to do print or online journalism?
  • If I want to get into broadcast journalism, how do I do that without much experience?
  • If I get my hair cut like Emily Mortimer in The Newsroom will that increase the likelihood of someone offering me a job?
  • Do any of my friends know someone that knows someone that knows someone….
  • Should I just give up and apply to be a holiday rep for the summer? (At least I’d get some sun)
  • When should I call it a night, turn off my laptop and just go to bed?
  • How desperate do I have to be to consider moving back home?

And all of this goes on in my own little bubble, as all my friends are at work, doing useful things and earning money.

I feel like I am a vulnerable caterpillar in a fragile cocoon waiting for someone to call saying: “Hello Katherine, the (extremely well paid) job (with a generous holiday allowance) is yours.”

And I will burst forth, an incredibly grateful butterfly. The sun will shine and spring will finally arrive.*

But that might just be my cabin fever talking.

Either way, I really need a job. And I need it soon.

*It is perhaps a tad big-headed to assume that the recent cold snap and my unemployment are mutually exclusive, but we’ll see.