A common question is:  ‘How do I get to work for New Scientist/the BBC/insert dream job here?’

The answer, again, is that there is no set route for getting into these places.

For most mainstream newspapers and magazines dealing in text articles, the two most common routes are to simply apply for a job when they become available, or to start freelancing for them (which then, if successful, can turn into a longer-term freelancing relationship or put you in line for a staff job if one comes up). 

For broadcast companies in TV and radio, it’s arguably even more difficult. Some get in by starting as a ‘researcher’. This is usually a low-paying entry-level role that involves, as the job title suggests, compiling information, either on a subject for use in a script or for scoping out a programme, or to find people and locations for recording. 

Like many jobs, entry-level positions in any of these are more competitive than ever and are rarely advertised (though it may still be worth signing up for keyword specific job alerts from LinkedIn and sites like Guardian Jobs). You’re best making a list of the places you want to work and checking their websites (in the jobs or ‘work for us’ section) regularly for opportunities. You can also check the jobs board of the ABSW website.

It’s also worth following staff who work where you want to work on Twitter. They will often share job postings when they come up. All these are also useful for seeing the job titles and types of job the company offers.

A further option is to try to get in through the back door by building up contacts and experience through some informal training, which is covered in the next section.

Informal training, experience and networking

As mentioned, experience counts for more than any qualification. So getting more writing experience is a must. The aim is to get a feel for what’s involved and whether you like it, and to start building up a portfolio of work that could help you get a job or onto a course. Not only will all this expand your knowledge and interest, it’ll show you what you like and don’t like, and what kind of a science writer you might want to be, as well as who you might like to work for. It could also provide valuable contacts and maybe even a job opportunity in the future. 

There’s nothing to stop you writing for yourself (see the General tips for getting started page), but getting your stuff published in an external publication definitely adds an extra endorsement, as well as a nice confidence boost. You also gain the valuable experience of working with an editor and being edited.

Note that at this level, plenty of places will let you write for free – or if you're lucky, paying you a small fee. Officially, the ABSW does not promote unpaid 'writing opportunities' believing them to devalue the professionalism of science writers and lead to a culture where working for free is expected of those seeking employment or freelance work as a science writer/journalist. But at this early stage of your career, you weigh up the need to get ‘bylines’ (your name on published work, particularly in publications you want to appear in) and the experience with the monetary gain of your work. As you build up more experience as a science writer you’ll be in more of a position to get higher paid work rather than low-paying or free gigs.

Start with places you know: you might then reach out to a university student magazine, newspaper or website for an institution you attend/attended to offer to write. Maybe ask your institution’s communication office if you could write or record an interview. Is there a website/blog you read that takes amateur contributors? 

If you’re interested in broadcasting, try working at a university or local/hospital radio or TV station.

And don’t forget to join the ABSW. We organise regular events for aspiring science writers, including opportunities to meet working writers and editors and a flagship summer school and biannual UK science journalism conference.

We often host events that can guide you in your career, such as the “How to get a job in the mainstream media and what to expect when you get there” session at the ABSW Summer School 2021.

(There are other professional writers and journalists’ organisations (see the Other organisations similar to the ABSW page) in the UK and elsewhere. 

Finally, science writing is a competitive but friendly and passionate community and most folk are more than happy to offer advice. The ABSW and social media can be good ways of reaching out. The ABSW also offers a formal mentoring scheme.


Formal, paid internships offer a set period (usually a few months, sometimes longer) of on the job training. But in the world of science writing and journalism, unfortunately, they are not as plentiful or regularly offered as they once were. Where they are still run, they are usually just one or two places and maybe restricted to specific criteria (e.g. boosting diversity). All are ultra competitive with usually hundreds of applicants. Still, they offer a golden opportunity to gain experience and possibly impress enough to get a permanent position in the future. 

The landscape is constantly changing, but at the time of writing, the ABSW knows of internships run by:

  • Science Magazine intermittently offers a UK-based internship 
  • Science Media Centre
  • Sifted EU (technology and startups)
  • Wall Street Journal health & science reporting internship (should appear here)
  • Wellcome Trust
  • WIRED (may appear on job sites as ‘Conde Nast internship’)

(if no link is available, the internship has no webpage and is just listed in their job page or social media channels when open). 

Code Like a Girl also has a good list, though much of it is US-focussed. 

None of these are by any means comprehensive. If there’s a particular company/publication you are interested in, it’s worth searching their websites and social media, and contacting them directly to ask if they offer internships.

The Association of British Science Writers is registered in England and Wales under company number 07376343 at 76 Glebe Lane, Barming, Maidstone, Kent, ME16 9BD.
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