Fraser Nelson

Internships at The Spectator for summer 2019; no CVs (or names!) please

Internships at The Spectator for summer 2019; no CVs (or names!) please
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Since we abolished CVs for The Spectator’s internship scheme, it has acquired quite a reputation. There are fewer than two dozen journalists here in 22 Old Queen St and we recruit people rarely – but when we do, we seek to recruit from our interns. As do other people: The Spectator's no-CV internships helped a 48-year-old mum-of-three with no previous journalism experience to her job at The Sunday Times, and a former teacher to National Review in the US.  Last year, we hired three of our former interns.

Most publications demand some kind of CV to get an internship, and it helps to have a well-connected friend or relative. Not here. In journalism, all that matters is flair, enthusiasm and capacity for hard work. Some of The Spectator's senior staff came here via Eton and Oxford; others left school aged 16. That stuff doesn't matter in journalism: we don't care where, when or even whether you went to university. We won't even ask. That’s why we recruit our interns from aptitude tests alone. As of this year, those tests will not show names.

There is no age limit but we do ask that you'd be two years away from seeking a job because we're serious about this, and aim to see people we could potentially hire this year or next.

The internships are split into four different categories.

1) Editorial Suggesting guests or writers. Helping edit copy. Working with the editorial team to come up with new ideas for the magazine and Coffee House. Helping come up with ways to promote the magazine on social media.

2) Research/data Fact-checking, researching new topics, spotting trends and identifying informative articles. This is also open to those who don’t want an internship but would be interested in freelance research work: we operate tight deadlines and need a lot of out-of-hours work. You should be fluent in tech, but have an interest in using these skills as a form of journalism.

3) Political mischief Working with our deputy political editor Katy Balls and the online team on Coffee House politics coverage (more details here).

4) Broadcast Working with our podcast editor (and ex-intern) Cindy Yu.

We have competitions later in the year to recruit writers. Meanwhile, anyone is welcome to submit their articles to us at

The tasks, of which you should pick at least four:


  • Suggest three people who might write the Spectator diary.
  • Suggest a cover story and who might write it
  • Write a 300-word blog for the Spectator Life website.
  • Suggest three improvements to The Spectator magazine.
  • Explain in no more than 200 words how we could make better use of social media.
  • Write 15 tweets for a recent issue of The Spectator, promoting all sections of the magazine.
  • Write three different web headlines for any three Spectator magazine articles (so nine in total).
  • Create a short social media video that would promote any Spectator article.
  • Suggest three different topics - and a guest line-up - for a Spectator podcast.


  • We have a large data library, but all in Excel sheets. We'd like to make this publicly available, perhaps showing a menu of charts and then providing access to the data behind it. What technology should we use?
  • Find two factual errors made by a writer or politician of your choice.
  • List five respects in which 2019 will likely be the best year in human history. Support your answers with data.
  • Find three factual inaccuracies (or sleights of hand) in analysis, articles or comments by Oxford’s Prof. Danny Dorling
  • Are home ownership costs rising or falling for millennials? Find data to support your answer.
  • Outline a means of automatically ranking recent tweets by click through or engagement rate.
  • Suggest a new piece of software/app/technological development that could benefit The Spectator.


Complete three of the tasks below:

  • Send three topics for a Freedom of Information request
  • What connects Southamption Itchen, Glasgow South West and Glasgow East?
  • Send three ideas for a Steerpike story.
  • Find socioeconomic data to support In The Ghetto by Elvis Presley.
  • How many freebies has John Bercow received in the last year?
  • Submit an article with the headline 'Eight people who think they could be Britain's... xxx' – choosing a public figure of your choice (this link, for reference).
  • Which MP has changed their Brexit position the most times? Provide evidence for your claim in a 200 word blog.


Choose at least one of the below:

  • Produce and present a short podcast (max 7 minutes) on a session of PMQs – pick out the highlights, play the clips, and explain what’s going on.
  • Produce and present a short video explaining a news story you have seen.

And at least two of the below:

  • List potential podcast guest line-ups for three stories found from recent issues of The Spectator (one must be current affairs). Briefly explain why you chose each guest.
  • Write podcast scripts introducing three stories found from recent issues of The Spectator.
  • Give three suggestions for how to grow podcast listenership.
  • Pitch a new podcast series – title, topic, guests, host, music.
  • Suggest three outro songs for three different episodes of Coffee House Shots. (No Eurovision songs allowed)


Please say which internship scheme you’d like to be considered for (you can enter more than one). Then in your email, two attachments: your test entry, and a covering letter (max 400 words) on what you could bring to The Spectator. Don’t say anything about your age, work experience or background (and no sly mentions, Oxbridge students, none of this "my student newspaper, Cherwell," etc.)

There's one exception to this: do mention any journalistic experience, or if you’re applying for/have been accepted to postgraduate studies in journalism. These courses don’t really teach you much but they do demonstrate determination. Anyone in journalism will need a lot of that. Remedial support is available for PPE students.

In your email, include your full contact details - but don't put your name in your letter, or your test entry. The emails go to our HR department, who'll send down the letters and applications. We then mark them, and send them back to our HR department. We'll never see the names.

All of our internships are paid (although not very much) and transport costs covered. Some of our interns stay with family or friends in London but arrangements can be made for those with no such connections: no one should be inhibited from applying on any financial grounds. Two-week internships are available throughout the summer, from the start of June to the end of September, so please also include your preference.

We take this seriously: it’s how we recruit and we are hiring. So please don’t apply if you aren't realistically going to be looking for a full-time job in the next year or so. We do offer work experience placements for school pupils, through the Social Mobility Foundation, so those interested can apply through them. (I can recommend SMF to other employers: they send great, interested and talented kids and we’ve hired two of their alumni so far.)

Applications close on 6 May, but do send in earlier if you can as we expect quite a few entries. Email with 'Intern application: editorial' or whichever one you’re doing, with the two (name-free) attachments.

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is editor of The Spectator

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