ABC of starting out

A cadetship with ABC News and Current Affairs is highly prized by our journalism graduates.

It offers structured, excellent training and even to be shortlisted to sit the test is an achievement.

Curtin’s Hannah Jenkins and Matthew Layton both made the final six in Perth. Matt went on to make the final two.

Here they share their experiences …


The ABC cadetship process was certainly an experience I have never encountered before.

At times, I could even compare it to being involved in a reality TV competition.

Without sounding cliché or formulaic, it was like being on a big journey.

I sat the online application not knowing what was ahead. I remember feeling a buzz of excitement when I was notified my application was successful, and of course this step was only the beginning.

In round two, all successful applicants had to sit a current affairs and writing examination.

This part of the process was personally demanding, because I was also juggling commitments with the Western Independent, my job in breakfast radio, work experience at the ABC and completing end-of-year assignments.

On the day of the exam I felt slightly nervous because I had no idea if I had studied the right things.After the exam, I was satisfied that I’d answered the questions to the best of my ability.

A few days later I was told (in suspense reality style) that I had made it to the next round – the voice and camera test.

I was very excited, because it was an opportunity for me to show off my personality and presentation skills.

Returning to the building in East Perth a week later, I walked into a room with ABC WA news editor Kim Jordan, two other people and a camera.

It felt like an X Factor audition.

There was a quick Q & A before I was ready to roll. I remember walking out of the room with a million thoughts rushing through my mind, like ‘did I say the right things?’ and ‘I hope I pronounced this and that correctly’.

Not long after, I received a call from Mr Jordan. I was ecstatic when I learned I had made it to the final round – the conference call interview.

The lead up to the interview was very daunting.

Luckily I had finished all of my university commitments, and could focus more.

It was the big day, and I was directed into a special conference room by myself. The people interviewing me were sitting in a room on the other side of the continent!

I answered a range of questions, and felt more comfortable as the interview went on. But at the end of the day, I had only 30 minutes to impress the panel.

Unfortunately, I was not awarded one of the cadetships for 2012.

At first I felt disappointed, but then realised the competition was tough and there were some truly outstanding candidates.

I was told that out of the 762 applications the ABC received nationally, only 14 people were selected for interviews – and I was one of those 14.

In Idol terms, I made it to the live show stage of the competition.

Realistically though, I am very proud that I made it that far. I have learned a lot from this process, and hopefully more opportunities will arise as a result.


I guess I applied for the ABC cadetship with the same frame of mind most near-graduates have when attempting to make the move from university to the ‘real world’.

It was something along the lines of: “there’s no way I’ll get this, but you have to be in it to win it, right?”

I turned out to be right.

Well, sort of. I didn’t get the cadetship, but I did surprise myself by making it much further through the selection process than I ever would have expected.

That’s why I’d encourage all final year students to give it a go. You might not end up getting the job, but you’ll learn a hell of a lot along the way.

The process provides you with a teaser – a hint of what is to come and what is expected if you want to make the grade.

The ABC application process has a formula that is similar to that of many media organisations, and begins with the online application.

I found having some work experience or volunteer work to cite here was very helpful.

I also tried to make my answers stand out.

Most of the application is purely formal, but if you get the chance, make your answers to the more ‘personal’ questions fresh and unique.

I was pleasantly surprised when News Editor Kim Jordan remembered my application and, in particular, my answers to these sorts of questions.

If you manage to win them over with your application, you’ll be called in to sit the current affairs and writing test.

Before my test, I was freaking out. I made palm cards of all the major world leaders, government (state and federal ministers) and important people.

This isn’t necessary – if you are truly interested in news at both a state and national level you will be fine.

The next section of the process was where I bowed out: the screen test.

The best advice I can give here is be confident – this is what let me down.

You can only do your best, but knowing that nerves got in the way is disappointing.

Having some practice in newsreading did really help here though, as a broadcast quality voice is something the ABC puts great emphasis on.

Overall, the screen and written tests really helped me understand what I need to know for future applications.

Even though I didn’t get the cadetship, getting into the top six was far more than I could ever have hoped for.

So don’t be afraid to apply, even if you think you’re not up to scratch.

There might just be someone ready to spot your potential and give you the opportunity you need to showcase what you know.

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