My week of work experience at MacFormat, by Dan Brown
As I hopped on the train on Monday morning, I had no idea what to expect of my week working at MacFormat. The visions I had of what my week would entail were somewhat daunting – at school it is impossible to get any real example of what any form of journalism is like, so I really was entering the unknown in most aspects. I had tried to find out as much as I could about the magazine before I stepped into the office for the first time, but nothing could really have prepared me for what it would be like working in the industry itself. My stereotypical view that the office would be full of gleaming iPhones, MacBooks and other incredibly expensive Apple branded technology was only half right, which meant that some of my initial nerves evaporated as I was actually able to use most of it! I progressively felt more at ease as the week went on, gaining more and more knowledge of what was required to cut it in this demanding industry.
The first day saw me basically getting to grips with the style that the magazine is written in during the morning, along with sitting in on a meeting with Editor Chris and Art Editor Paul about how the iPad version of the magazine would be laid out. I found this particularly interesting as it was an aspect of the industry I had put no thought into before the week. I was then asked to actually design the layout for what one of next month’s features would look like in digital format myself – which was a far more hands-on task than I was anticipating. Never before had I used so much of my B in GCSE Graphic products! Presenting my ideas to Paul was nerve-wracking, as it had quite literally only been a couple of hours since I had seen the digital version of the magazine for the first time. Nevertheless, the majority of my sketches were decent enough, although not quite up to the standard of Paul.
The first bit of writing that I did of the week came during the second day, where reviews editor Ian tasked me with reviewing a set of gaming headphones. Having never owned a gaming headset before, it was a harder task than I had expected, and with my writing talent predominantly in sports writing, my first draft was predictably littered with mistakes. Nonetheless, some helpful tips and hints from both Chris and Ian later, and I felt much more comfortable tailoring my writing for different purposes. This is incredibly valuable, as it again was a lesson that I wouldn’t have previously learnt. Even in non-writing sense, it was useful to hear the constructive criticism, as it is better to gain skills in this way rather than by finding out when it is too late.
After spending the whole first half of the week in the office, on Thursday I had the privilege of heading down to the photo studio alongside Paul to shoot some of the photos that will be featured within next month’s issue. I must admit, when Chris emailed me telling me that this was the case, I had the idea that it may be my easiest day of the week. How wrong I was, although it was the highlight. The immense attention to detail that has to be achieved with the photos is incredible, and the time that is taken creating the set, making sure everything is in the right place, and adjusting the lighting is genuinely hard to believe. Paul let me compose a couple of the final photos myself, which will actually make it into the magazine, which is quite amazing considering I had previously no experience of anything like it. I was beginning to understand the way in which a magazine fully came together by this point, which is a prime example of how work experience is invaluable. As with most of the week, the photo shoot is a part of the production that I have learnt a huge amount in, and is one of the biggest parts of the experience that I think I will take away. It will certainly make me think a lot more about composition in any media studies photo shoots during year 13…
Summing up my week at MacFormat is extremely hard to do, not least due to the massive shock to the system that the whole experience of working in a professional environment is. As my first real experience of the industry, MacFormat has taught me a huge amount, and it has been a pleasure to be able to learn about all aspects of the production. It is really something to be able to gain knowledge of such vital parts of the journalism industry, such as how each of the relevant parts are checked multiple times before they are sent off, the way issues are produced for multiple formats, and how work is edited amongst a whole host of others. It has given me a lot to think about in terms of how a magazine is produced from the ground up, and should leave me in good stead for the future; it will certainly give me a great advantage with whatever opportunities come up for me. I’m incredibly grateful to all of the team for giving me the opportunity to work with them.