From Harlow NCTJ Student to Mail Online showbiz reporter in under a year

TEN months ago, Callum Wells was a journalism student at Harlow College. Now, at just 19 years of age, he is a showbiz reporter with the Mail Online and living his dream career.

Callum returned this week (May 4) to the same lecture hall where only last year he was a student working for a journalism diploma. He spoke to students about how he obtained his job at the Mail and his experiences interviewing major celebrities, ranging from Piers Morgan to Love Island star Megan Barton Hanson.

In the last 10 months he has already written over 1000 articles -averaging around 10 a day – and lives in central London at Marble Arch.

He revealed he had always had a passion for showbiz journalism: “I’ve always been more interested in the showbiz side of journalism. If I ever go on the train I will always pick up the Metro and go straight to the ‘guilty pleasures’ column which is a coincidence because I now know the editor of that column.”

Callum applied for many jobs whilst completing his NCTJ (National Council for the Training of Journalists) Diploma and struggled at first to find what he was looking for until he came across his current job on social media.

“When the job of Junior Showbiz Editor for Mail Online came up on LinkedIn, it was a really big surprise. Honestly I thought they would never get back to me but I think you have to put yourself in that position regardless; you have to put yourself out there and the right job will come along”.

The requirements of the job included having contacts within the journalism field and previous experience both of which Callum didn’t have, so he was grateful when his editor took a chance and employed him.

“I started looking for jobs in the January of the course – I think it’s really important to start looking early on. I started with one interview for one company and three for another; I got through a few rounds but it’s important to know that it’s unlikely you are going to come straight out of the course and go straight into a job and I think I was very fortunate that this happened to me.”

He told students applying for Jobs within the Journalism industry: “Try and do things that are going to make you stand out from the crowd. For me I think it was having the BBC Young Reporter Bronze Award and I’m really fortunate to have that.”

He said “It’s not a coincidence being in the right place at the right time it’s about putting yourself in the right place at the right time.”

Callum was raised in Upminster in Essex and moved to village called Ingrave in Brentwood so it was a long way to travel to Harlow College, but his passion for Journalism and dedication gave him the energy: “I used to travel two hours to get to Harlow College and I had to take three trains, it was a four hour journey for me every day.”

Callum has met a large variety of celebrities including Pierce Morgan, 80’s pop icon Boy George, Netflix’s Bridgeton actor Luke Thomas, television presenter Rylan Clarke and many more.

He spoke highly of all celebrities he has interviewed but claimed his favourite was Claudia Winkleman, “Claudia Winkleman was really nice, I met her at a launch for a NO.7 event for Boots and when I chatted to her she told me she always travels by tube everywhere which I couldn’t believe, It would be great to interview her again sometime.”

Just like every student Callum admitted he has weaknesses, “ A tutor once told me my news writing was quiet weak and that I should be a magazine journalist but I think being in my job has helped me to improve on that and strengthen my skills.”

As a showbiz journalist not only do you get to meet celebrities you get to attend high profile events and Callum revealed he really enjoys: “Being able to push myself out of my comfort zone, to not be stuck in the office all the time, to meet new people and getting to interview them, I love interviewing it makes me nervous but I get better every time.”

When discussing his proudest moments he mentioned the first event he attended – the National Television Awards (NTA), as well as the Pride of Britain Awards and the Royal Television Society (RTS) awards.

As well as having many pleasant experiences at a job he loves, Callum also had one big challenge he had to overcome… his stutter. He gained his award with the BBC because of the work he did to raise awareness about stuttering and in 2018 decided to take control of his speech impediment by attending a four-night residential course through the McGuire Organisation.

He said: “I learnt a new way to speak and breath and basically started speaking again, three words per breath. I’ve also just qualified to become a course instructor for the organisation as well.”

Callum Wells is an inspiration to all young journalists and Harlow College is proud to have been a part of his Journey into the Journalism industry.


Featured image: Top row left to right, Dani White, Callum Wells, Scarlet Tollervey. Bottom Row left to right: Bruno Lopes, Gabrielle Bridle

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