How to get on the MailOnline Trainee Scheme:

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My experience and tips to get on to the MailOnline Trainee Scheme:

The MailOnline Trainee Scheme is one of the most prestigious graduate schemes out there, and is known to have trained some of the industry’s finest journalists. Dubbed a “finishing school” by The Guardian, the scheme is a one-year programme, where you work at a regional for 2 months and a news agency for 2 months before returning back to the Derry Street offices. The application process is very competitive and only a select few get picked to go through to the final round.

It was a lengthy and challenging process but I am pleased to say that I have been offered a place on the MailOnline trainee scheme starting in September 2015. I will be reporting in Birmingham for the Birmingham Mail before returning back to Kensington in FullSizeRenderFebruary 2016.

Here is some advice that I have if you’re considering applying to the MailOnline trainee scheme 2016.

The Application

You are required to send a CV, a cover letter and your 6 best writing samples to Sue Ryan, usually by the end of January. The process from Application to Offer takes just under three months so be prepared to take on the challenge.

  • Check your spelling & grammar
    • I cannot stress enough how important spelling and grammar is in your application. In fact, it’s so important, Sue Ryan said she wouldn’t even consider an application with a typo or spelling error in it. So check your CV, re-check it and get others to check it too. They get over 900 applications for only 7 or so places, so they’re looking to cut down as much as possible. You don’t want spelling to be the reason why your application gets overlooked.
  • Sell yourself but avoid clichés
    • This is an obvious but crucial point. They want to see you put your best foot forward but without the cliché, “I’ve wanted to be a journalist all my life”. In your cover letter, start by explaining why you want to work for MailOnline, and why it appeals to you. Avoid focusing on what the Mail can do you for you; show that you’re keen and committed to working for them and what you, as an individual, can bring to the table.
  • Know the Mail inside out
    • Know MailOnline, know the readership and know the style. It helps if you keep an eye on stats as well (these can be found on the last tab of the MailOnline website) so that you can drop those in your cover letter. If a particular article has caught your eye, mention that and it also helps to mention a favourite reporter, if you have one. There’s also no harm in putting in some fun anecdotes but save some of your best stories for the interview!

The First Stage

If your application is one of the ones that have managed to impress them, you will be invited to a first-round interview with Sue Ryan. For City students, Sue came to us to carry out the interviews, (probably because of the sheer number of us) but it would typically take place at the Derry Street office. Mike Watson and Peter Sands from Press Association were also present for the interview. This is more of an interview to get to know you at this stage.

  • Look presentable and smart
    • Though my interview felt like more of a chat and they were really friendly, it was still an interview. It’s important to dress smart so you give off the right impression. You might feel like you look over dressed but it’s better to be over dressed than under dressed. 
  • Know your CV inside out and more
    • They asked me everything from why I wanted to be a journalist to the violin and Indian classical dance (my hobbies) as well as asking me what I would say if another tabloid offered me a job. So make sure you are prepared for some unexpected questions.
  • Take your portfolio
    • Bring your portfolio with you and use it to show and backup every point you make. Also, make sure it’s nicely presented in either a leather or black portfolio folder, preferably with clippings stuck to the pages.
  •  Be personable
    • I didn’t sleep the night before my interview because I was so nervous! But it turned out being myself, being bubbly and confident and genuinely showing them my passion for journalism and for the Daily Mail worked.
    • Ensure you greet each interviewer with a firm handshake when you enter the room. Don’t be nervous because they’ll be assessing you from the moment you enter and are looking for confident individuals.
    • Be personable but not cocky, be bubbly but not overpowering, be chatty but listen as well and finally demonstrate why they should give you the job and not the 900 others.

The Second Stage

The second round is a lot more daunting but if you stay calm and prepare, you’ll be in a better position than the rest. I was invited to an assessment day at the office where I had an interview with a panel of four that included Sue Ryan and a senior MailOnline reporter, some news exercises, a subbing test and a debating session.

  • Know the news
    • Either during your first or second stage interview, you’ll be given a news quiz so make sure you read the paper every day up until your interview. Also, absorb a variety of news because anything can come up. It helps to listen to the Today programme every morning as well.
  • Be prepared for the unexpected
    • The interviewers will be looking for confident candidates who are not afraid to speak up and have an opinion on the news. Be prepared for the unexpected in the interview. I had stats prepared and a list of things I wanted to say but I didn’t get asked any of that.
    • My advice would be to prepare as much as you feel is necessary but don’t stress if you can’t cover everything. Sometimes going with the flow works in your favour. 

The Third Stage

Congratulations! If you’ve got through to this stage, the hard part is over. I was invited for an interview with the Managing Editor of MailOnline. This was more of a quick chat about the role, how they operate and a chance for you to ask any questions. As always, be professional, ask the right questions and show them your enthusiasm.

Good luck!

TM - Spring Fair

Flowers, chocolate and VW Vans: Islington welcomes Country Living Spring Fair 2015

For all city locals yearning for a quick escape to the country, Angel is the place to be this weekend. The highly anticipated Country Living Magazine Spring Fair 2015 is in full swing, offering a switch up to the London way of life.

Taking place at the Business Design Centre in Angel, the Spring Fair features over 400 exhibitors from small startups to well-established brands. The exhibition kicked off on 17 March and is on until tomorrow (22 March).

The fair itself has been running for over 20 years and typically attracts a high proportion of locals as well as visitors from across London and the home counties.

TM - Spring Fair - Catherine Gee

Catherine Gee (right), from Country Living Magazine, has worked closely on the current exhibition. She said:

“We opened on Wednesday and it has been absolutely amazing. The Spring Fair is about 20 years old but this is by far one of the best.”

Anastasia Conti, a first-time visitor to the fair, said: “It’s been great. I live locally but this is the first time I’ve been and I’ve really enjoyed it.”

Chef Patrick Le Mesurier, founder of Le Mesurier, which produces a range of natural condiments, said: “We’ve been doing the show for the last three years and it’s a really good platform to show your products to the general public.

“We’ve moved from the usual position upstairs to downstairs and the footfall has been definitely much better down here so quite pleased.”


Patrick Le Mesurier

At the fair this year, special features include a Country Living Theatre for panel discussions and lifestyle tips from interior design columnist Alison Cork and horticulturist Lucy Summers.

Elsewhere, there are chocolate-making classes in the Craft & Create Rooms and a ‘glamping’ inspired garden which has its very own vintage VW camper van.

TM - Spring Fair - Fiona Sciolti

Chocolatier Fiona Sciolti (right), from North Lincolnshire, has showcased at the Spring Fair for the last four years. She said: “It’s fabulous. They’ve brought the food hall down from the top so it’s more light and airy and it’s just a better environment. Customers have loved it and us traders have really loved it as well.”

Ms Gee said there are some challenges with the fair that did not exist before. “20 years ago, a lot of the small producers, particularly the food producers, had to come to something like this in order to reach an urban audience. But they don’t need to do that anymore because there are farmers markets.”

“They’ve got websites, and they can sell to someone who lives on Upper Street via mail order so they have less of a need to come to an event like this. So that’s why we try to add all the other bits so it’s generally a great day out.”

Today is the last day of the Spring Fair 2015. Tickets can be purchased here.


The Dolls House Islington

The latest offering to Islington’s Upper Street is the Dolls House, a stylish restaurant and inconspicuous private members’ club, which is now the permanent home of the glamorous Hoxton pop-up.


The Library

Situated by Islington Town Hall in a rustic three-storey Victorian townhouse, this whimsical restaurant boasts debauchery on another level. Screams of laughter from the “members only” room can be heard as you enter and dancers swinging to jazz beats in flickering candlelight give it that extra bit of mystery.

Armed only with black marker pens, Dead Dolls Club owners Adam Towner and Katy Gray Rosewarne transform old buildings into monochrome hand-illustrated stately homes. The Dolls House Islington is the third offering from the couple, who have already established the Dead Doll’s Club in Bethnal Green and Doll’s House in Peckham.


The Ballroom

With a public bar in the downstairs parlour, Espresso Martini Bar and Library open to the public on the first floor and members’ ballroom in the upstairs attic, there is plenty of space. Previously known as the House of Wolf, the Dolls House plays host to live jazz and swing on Thursdays and Sundays, with resident DJs playing on Fridays and Saturdays until 4am.

A tasty food menu is created by Daryl Wilson of Salt House and reflects the charming interiors of the venue. Some favourites of the evening were the creamy leek and potato soup with avocado oil and artisan bread. For mains, the unusual combination of a fillet of sea bass with provencale mussels, though dry, worked well and the delicious duck fat chips made up for it.

Tanveer - Features Dolls House

A fillet of sea bass with provincial mussels with duct fat chips

Favourite cocktails of the evening included the ‘Pisco Sours’ and ‘Old Fashioned’, while dessert was a selection of six chocolate coffee cups and rhubarb and vanilla crumble canapés.

To become part of the Dead Dolls House elite all you have to do is sign up and bring a bottle of liquor from their selected menu. From then on, you can come and go as you please through the secret members only entrance.


The Original Jay Sean: Chasing Soul and Substance

Fifteen million records sold, five consecutive Top 40 Billboard singles, and over a decade of international success, the UK’s finest R&B artist, Jay Sean, is back in the UK promoting his newly released mixtape The Mistress II. I caught up with him ahead of his release for an exclusive interview!

Jay-Sean-THE-MISTRESS-mixtape-cover-2After being signed to Cash Money Records for six years, with whom he released two highly successful albums, All or Nothing, featuring hits Down and Do You Remember, and Neon, Jay made the shocking announcement in October that he was to leave the record company.

Explaining his decision, Jay said, “It got to the point where I couldn’t be at that label anymore, I couldn’t stand all the weighting and the lack of support. We had a great amount of success together, we did big things, we created history but in the end, I just sat down with them and said I need to go and do this, this is where I’m happier.”

His new album is a clear shift back to his musical roots and harkens back the original UK urban style, which gained him the attention that launched his career. A reflection of a sound on his earlier albums such as Me Against Myself, Jay’s new singles Tears In The Ocean, Jameson and All I Wanna Do showcase his renowned R&B style.

“I wanted to set the tone with Tears in the Ocean. I wanted people to understand what this project is about. Of course I can do the fun up-tempo party songs but that’s just one side of me, at the core, this is what I do.”

The Mistress

Explaining how he came up with the idea for The Mistress II, he said, “When I was writing my last album Neon, with Cash Money, I was struggling to inject enough soul and substance and passion into it to be honest. I knew that it had to be commercially viable; it had to have something that would sell because when you’re with a record company, they’re investing money in you. They want stuff that radio will play and that’s the difficult thing about being an artist signed to a label.”

Jay made it clear that he is happy with his decision, despite R&B becoming a “niche” now. “I find more joy and satisfaction out of this kind of music, then writing two minutes of a song that will be here today, gone tomorrow.”

The theme throughout the new album is adultery, which is often considered a taboo subject, particularly in Asian culture. Jay’s response was, “There’s been films about it, so why not an album? With Mistress, I basically made a movie in my head, about a guy who is married to a girl and he falls for someone else. In the beginning, its fun, playful, risky, an adventure and he feels alive but then there is the guilt that comes along with it, pain, lying, deceit, all of that and that allows me to write songs about everything.”

The Real Jay Sean

images-1Turning the question on to him, does he practice what he preaches? “No absolutely not. I’ve actually always been a very loyal boyfriend. If I knew it was coming to the point where I was going to mess around, I always ended the relationship. Because of this, I’ve actually managed to stay friends with all my exes.”

The music industry can often make or break artists in a blink of an eye. Yet Jay has always remained true to his beliefs. “I have always been who I am and have always stayed true to myself. I’m too firmly grounded and I think that’s the reason why I’m able to make the crazy decisions I do. People think I’m crazy for leaving medicine, for leaving Virgin Records, leaving Cash Money Records but it’s because I just know what I’m worth, I know my value, I know what makes me happy and if I’m not getting all those things, I leave.”

“I never got into any of this for girls, drugs, to be a superstar. It never meant anything to me. What has always mattered to me is credibility, respect, and dignity for my work.”

A few fun facts you didn’t know about Jay: Julia Roberts is his favourite actress, he would pick Etihad above any other airline, if you ever catch Jay at a bar, buy him a Vodka Soda, New York definitely over London and, of course, his favourite restaurant is Nandos!


The Man Behind The Harmonica

‘Busking is pure. If you can get people to like you in ten seconds, you’ve consolidated all your practice in that one moment’


Philip Achille is not your average busker. He’s the kind that shatters every expectation. You may have heard him modestly playing his harmonica on the London Underground, possibly playing an impressive rendition of Bach’s Violin Concerto in A minor on… yes a harmonica, to London’s commuters.

The British harmonica player, from the West Midlands, is in fact a Royal College of Music graduate whose list of talents is endless. The bass, saxophone, violin and piano are just some of the other instruments on which he experiments his jazz and classical styles.

Playing music is “something I feel like I have to do”, he tells me. Adding to the history of the harmonica is his mission and he says he achieves this by busking. “That’s the great thing about busking, I get an intense personal enjoyment out of it as well as the financial gain. Especially busking in London, the exposure and ability to connect with other people, the sheer volume of people that you end up playing to is quite amazing. For me, it’s been a great tool to get myself out there in a way.”

Philip shot to fame last month after a video posted by the jazz pianist John Turville went viral, featuring on the Huffington Post and on social networks. The reception of the video has compelled Philip to take his music to another level. He is currently raising money to fund a recording album, of which he has gained significant support.

Some of the musician’s proudest achievements to date have included playing the introduction for Jon Bon Jovi’s finale of the Royal Variety Performance in 2007 and playing at Andrew Lloyd Webber’s birthday celebration in Hyde Park in September 2008.

The classical player’s pure and graceful style is owed much to his mother, he explains, who ensured that he was given a wealth of opportunity as a child. Searching for a music teacher for the saxophone at nine-years-old led him into the hands of the only harmonica teacher in England. “So I just thought let’s give this a go. It turned out to be the greatest thing that ever happened to me.”

Only in his twenties and Philip has already won numerous awards, including National Harmonica League Player of the Year 2005, World Youth Solo Chromatic Harmonica Champion 2005, World Open Harmonica Champion 2005, Birmingham International Jazz Festival Young Musician 2006 and Eurovision Young Musician of the Year Finalist 2008.

The talented player began busking at sixteen years old in his hometown of Solihull. Since then, his ambition, passion and charm have allowed him to become a regular on one of London’s sought-after busking pitches. “It’s an amazing thing for a busker to know you’ve got a spot. I’ve met loads of cool people, got some cool gigs, recording sessions from it. The system definitely works as well because you don’t have to pay anything for it and you get to busk in the greatest cities in the world.”

For Philip, he says he tends to do really well with commuters. Providing background music is what he likes doing. He emphasises that with busking you cannot get disheartened. “As a busker, you’re always thinking about the fact that people are there to get on a train and not to hear you play. I don’t think people actively ignore you; they’re just in a hurry. The idea of good background music is that it doesn’t get in the way, but at the same time, it enhances the experience so people still enjoy it. For me if someone stops, I just appreciate it even more.”

Often perceptions of buskers are usually quite negative, with many people not taking them seriously. Addressing this view, Philip says, “The more people expect something the harder it is to actually impress them. When you’re busking, because people expect very little, they have no preconceptions. So when I go there, I give the best possible show I can, which means that many people listen in a pure sense.”

What has he learnt from busking? “Having done busking, it’s changed the way I play and teaches you how to hold a melody. It is quite a high level of performance because you’re trying to convey something to someone who will judge you based on the ten seconds it takes him or her to walk past you. Busking is pure. If you can get people to like you in that ten seconds, it’s almost as if you’ve consolidated all your practice in that one moment.”