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the als shop - opposite the stadium of light ALS WORK EXPERIENCE...
COME AND HAVE A GO (IF YOU THINK YOU'RE GOOD ENOUGH)

At ALS we often get requests from various people who’d like to come in and do work experience. These vary from work-shy fops, dead keen Sunderland fans, to uni students with a genuine interest in working in the media once their education has finished. We thought we’d ask a random handful of them to recall their time making tea, cleaning the bogs and helping to make ALS the best magazine in the entire world. Ever.

the als shop - opposite the stadium of light
the fool on the hill
by adam capper

Following 31.10.10 I went out and got properly hammered. The next morning I was still a little bit drunk and still more than a little bit angry. I sat down, fizzy water and flat coke in-hand and began to write a rant. An hour later my masterpiece was finished but I didn’t know what to do with it.

I carried on with my usual morning routine – checked BBC Football, checked Sky Sports, checked the gossip columns and finally checked ALS. Bingo! So into the letters page it was sent. They liked it and put it up.

As a journalism student with absolutely no previous effort to get anything published anywhere, it was pretty cool seeing it up there. So I wrote to the editor, Martyn. I knew I had to do some sort of work experience at some stage and as my course doesn’t have any formal placement; I knew I would have to organise it myself. ALS had already enjoyed one piece of my writing so I offered my services for the Christmas holidays and was told to get myself down to the office.

I turned up on the first day, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed but expecting to be given a bin-liner and directed towards the storage cupboard. How wrong I was. My first task, as it happened, was to get myself upstairs and make a start to the website round-up. As an avid SAFC fan, the ALS round-up is something I read maybe 2 or 3 times a day so to be asked to write it was a bit cool and a bit exciting.

I had already written an article for ALS before my arrival, having been contacted by Martyn while he was in need of material for the next issue. My next task was to write a few more which was a pretty nice way to pass the day. I went home with a smile on my face and having already had more literary input in eight hours than I thought I would have during the entire month.

I settled into a routine from then on; arrive in the morning, write the round-up, have a joke with the lads, write more round-up, play some sort of practical joke on someone or have a practical joke played on me, talk about films, proof read an article, talk about football, talk about anything, remember I was supposed to be working, finish proof reading an article I had started reading an hour before, do a bit of article research or writing, eat lunch, talk a bit more, round-up, some sort of funny thing would happen, write more stuff, then go home.

It was fun, but no two days were the same. The most consistent thing was the low quality of the comedy as something was always coming up. Martyn kept forwarding me emails from national papers looking for comments on SAFC issues which was a very cool thing to be doing. I had to contact clubs looking for interviews with former players which was a very difficult and irritating thing to be doing because nobody helpful has ever worked for any football clubs media department. I was even sent down to Villa to watch the game and write the match report, sent on a wild goose chase to try and interview an un-named former legend and sent to Washington to deliver some flyers!

It really was worth getting up to work full-time for free during my entire Christmas holidays, honest. I’d recommend it to anyone who is thick skinned, mental about SAFC, has a capacity to deal with idiots who think they’re funny, is an idiot who thinks they’re funny and isn’t a dirty, deluded Mag supporting chav.

the als shop - opposite the stadium of light
FROM ERRAND BOY TO EDITOR
by andy fury

I remember walking into ALS for a work placement a couple of weeks into beginning university life, back in 2004. I’d written a few articles for the magazine, but never been involved in its production, something I thought would be useful to witness at first-hand. I arrived on a sunny September morning, ready to roll my sleeves up and help make the magazine even better. I was a bit put out when, half an hour later, I was on my way into town to drop some post off, but when I got back and Martyn, the editor, was cleaning the toilet, I realised I’d got the easy part of the deal.

A lot of my uni mates went off on work placements at around the same time I was, and we all compared notes when we got back. While I thought I’d done little by way of writing, I looked rushed off my feet in comparison. One of them had been roundly ignored at the Sunderland Echo, another had an 80 word story published without a byline in a free paper distributed in Whitley Bay, and loads more came back feeling utterly disillusioned compared to myself.

I’d been doing the ALS website every day, wrote up loads of shorts for the magazine and had a full page article under my name, as well as transcribing interviews and picking up loads of handy tips in the process. Rather than putting me off journalism as a career, it simply drove me on further to want to do it. I continued submitting more articles than ever for ALS, and spent two seasons with a regular weekly column on the website. This was great in terms of building up my portfolio, as well as getting regular feedback from readers of the site who followed what I was writing.

The summer after my work experience my second team, Gretna, got to the Scottish Cup Final. I’d written a couple of articles about Gretna, both for their programme and for A Love Supreme, but with them taking something like 12,000 fans to Hampden Park, decided it would be a good idea to try and set up a fanzine. Getting a printer to let me print 4,000 copies of a magazine on credit without any history in the publishing world would usually be quite tricky, but ALS stepped in and offered to design the magazine for me and pay for printing, which was nice of them. So within a year I’d gone from work experience kid fetching dinner to editor of my own magazine, which is pretty amazing really.

Having mucked in well and showed a lot of enthusiasm for the company, in 2007 I was offered a freelance job at A Love Supreme. This was the perfect solution after struggling to find a decent part time student job that would let me work flexible hours, after deciding that working for fast food chains until 3am on Saturdays for minimum wage wasn’t quite for me.

So within two years of first coming in to ALS as a work experience kid, I’m now a full time member of staff whilst still finishing off my degree. I also edit the Sunderland Uni magazine Degrees North, a job which I got on the back of my experience of helping at ALS and putting the Gretna magazine together. There’s no doubt doing a work placement here has helped my career and I can only recommend other people thinking about it take the plunge.                        

the als shop - opposite the stadium of light
NORTH COUNTRY BOY
BY joe martin

My school’s work experience week was approaching and I needed to start thinking about were I was going to go. Because I live in the countryside my options were fairly limited. The majority of my mates ended up at our former primary school standing around classrooms. That wasn’t for me so I ventured into the big city. Being interested in journalism and having a passion for SAFC I thought I would do my best to tie the two together. I contacted ALS and was asked to write an article, SAFC related, to show off my skills before selection. This was understandable as I obviously had to prove I was capable.

When I arrived my first task was to contribute to the website round up. This was something to be getting on with and I knew that it was something someone else would have done if I wasn’t here. It is read by a lot of people and therefore I was pleased to be making a valuable contribution. After doing the website stuff most mornings, I became for confident in doing it. It was enjoyable because I was writing about something I have a genuine interest in.

On the Thursday it was quite quiet so I was sent to watch the players train. This was a highlight for me as I was able to watch my heroes at work. Because I live so far away from Sunderland this is not something I would normally get the opportunity to do. I even managed a quick chat with some of the players after training and they were all very friendly.

In between the chats with Craig Gordon and Andy Cole I created a database of customers from the ALS online shop to send a mail shot to and went to fetch the lunch for the hungry staff at ALS. Although this can become tedious at least I was making a contribution to their ever expanding bellies!

I have enjoyed working for ALS and I’d gained an insight into the process of how a magazine is put together and then distributed. I have also a good idea of how the merchandising side of things are done. I now see journalism as a likely career option and I would recommend coming to ALS as it can open your eyes and prove very helpful.                    

the als shop - opposite the stadium of light
BIG MOUTH STRIKES AGAIN
BY Will Ellison

I did my work placement at A Love Supreme from October 1st to October 5th 2007. Being a season ticket holder at Sunderland and looking to work in media when I am older, I saw it as a great opportunity to go to ALS for my work experience. The week I spent at A Love Supreme was as good, if not better, than I expected it to be. I learnt a lot about working at a magazine and running a website. Although it was sometimes hard work, I found that I relished the challenge. I also improved my computer skills as well as my writing. Working there was both interesting and enjoyable. Working in the office itself was a laugh. The banter was great and working alongside Fury, John, Paul and Martyn really taught me a lot and even matured me a bit.

During the week I did many things. I did the roundup for the website which was interesting, getting to know all the latest news stories about the Lads. I also helped proof-reading some of the stories for one of the new ALS books, More 24 Hour SAFC People, to check for mistakes. This gave me a chance to read a few of the stories. It was very interesting and I discovered a lot about Sunderland that I never knew before. It seems like a great book and a must have for any Sunderland fan.

I also learned how to transcribe interviews, which was difficult but I enjoyed it all the same. Listening to the dictaphone and writing down what was said on the computer wasn’t so bad. It was a bit harder when there were workmen drilling holes next to you, but I managed and it is a valuable skill to have if you want to work in the media.

Working at ALS was often hilarious. I did have the mickey taken out of me a bit, being the young one in the office, but I tried to give back as good as I got. It was a great laugh and even though the jokes were a bit more intelligent than the usual school ones, I tried my best.

Working at ALS for a week was no less than brilliant. I learned a great deal and found it challenging, but very rewarding. I would recommend anyone interested in journalism and Sunderland to go there for work experience and I now sell the magazines on match days so I got myself a part time job through it!                     

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As such, views expressed are those of individual contributors and do not represent those of the editors