About them: The Guardian asked each to work as a casual journalist for a year at either a newspaper or a digital media outlet. Following their year in journalism, they gave their accounts of a career they claim never existed.
Sally would try her best to get work from home, but usually received a request for labour late at night or at the weekend, when people were busy elsewhere. She would then rush home at short notice and cover for colleagues, or work from a friend’s spare room or sofa. The only legal guidance available at the time was from legal aid – the assurance the editor would not withdraw the weekly pay the job was conditional on, whereas in practice this never happened.
After one unsatisfactory experience in a hole in the wall, Sally now works from home part-time. She is offered freelance work on a weekly basis, has an NCTJ project manager on retainer, and can work when she likes, wherever she likes.
Jonathan had published two books, had a technology degree, an advertising account manager’s job and marketing and PR experience, but was unable to secure work. “I was lucky enough to get work at various newspapers, but with the exception of being able to work from home, I was nowhere near being able to fill all the gaps in my CV,” he says.
Now Jonathan is working as a tech journalist, having freelance experience from well before the voluntary role, and is optimistic about his prospects in future.
Phil took a teaching qualification without getting a job, but struggled to find any teaching work. “It proved futile,” he says. He submitted his proposal to a charity but didn’t get a reply. He now works as a software architect for a PR consultancy. “I’ve got experience of working for myself and now I have the self- confidence to be out and about at the office. I find the idea of going to work and working at home quite disconcerting,” he says.