From temp to news anchor

“Once a live broadcast starts, it’s showtime,” laughs Antti Sahlström. “You either do your part as well as you can, or you freeze. Once you say your initial lines, you cannot take them back.”

Sahlström is a news anchor for MTV3’s morning show Huomenta Suomi, and occasionally reads the evening news and radio news for Radio Nova, as well.

Sahlström got his start in a temp job. He had been studying radio and tv journalism in the Metropolia university of applied sciences for only a year when he noticed an intriguing email on the university’s mailing list. MTV3 was looking for temp workers through the Nouhau Professionals agency.

“At first, I thought I’d give it a shot, even though I had zero work experience in the field,” Sahlström says.

Sahlström

Do every job 100%

Sahlström got the job, even though his experience in journalism was limited to a few programmes he had worked on for Metropolia’s student radio station. At first, Sahlström wrote online news stories for MTV3.

“I tried to do all tasks I was given as well as I possibly could. I took the smallest task seriously. Little by little, I was given more responsibility,” Sahlström explains.

In his job interview, Sahlström had indicated that he was interested in radio journalism. “I had got positive feedback about my voice. People said it was suited for radio. In the interview I suggested I could try out reading radio news.”

Sahlström was on the air sooner than he could have imagined. Radio Nova was happy with Sahlström’s performance, and soon he was given the opportunity to try out his skills in television.

Be yourself

Nowadays Sahlström works full time as a journalist and news anchor for Huomenta Suomi. MTV3 has outsourced the show’s production to Nouhau Productions. In addition, Sahlström still has his temp contract with Nouhau Professionals. This means that he still occasionally takes shifts reading the evening news for MTV3 and radio news for Radio Nova.

Sahlström says that doing the seven or ten o’clock news is very different from doing the morning broadcasts. The morning show has several short news broadcasts during the span of a few hours. If everything does not work out in one broadcast, you can improve in the next. In the evening news, the audience is much bigger - and so is the pressure.

“The morning news are like ice hockey: you have several shifts during the game. The evening news are more like ski-jumping. You only get a couple of attempts, and those have to succeed,” Sahlström explains.

The evening news always has two anchors, so their interaction is put under the magnifying glass. “If I do my bit well, and my colleague does the same, but our interaction is off, the result is not good,” Sahlström says. The large audience of the evening news also pays attention to details such as whether the anchor has picked the right tie or hairstyle. “Those are the things we get the most feedback on,” Sahlström grins.

A bigger audience also forces him to think more about his own credibility. Sahlström is exceptionally young for a news anchor. “At the end of the day, all you can do is be yourself. Pretending to be more experienced than you actually are does not work.”

All experience is valuable

Sahlström recommends temp work for everyone, but especially for a young and inexperienced job seeker. “Temp work can open up previously unimaginable opportunities,” says Sahlström.

An employer may be more willing to hire an inexperienced job seeker on a temp contract, because they do not need to make a long term commitment.

“If I had applied directly for a news anchor position at MTV3, it is unlikely that I would have been hired, given that I had very little experience. The temp job gave me the opportunity to get my foot in the door,” notes Sahlström. “Of course, temp work is uncertain, so it can be stressful. You do wonder if you will get enough shifts.”

For a young applicant and employee, it is important to be able to demonstrate one’s best qualities. On the other hand, Sahlström has not attempted to artificially stand out. “I’ve given all tasks the best I have got, and this has yielded more responsibility,” he explains.

Sahlström encourages students to do all their tasks and projects the same way they would do them if they were working a job. If you do not have much work experience yet, study projects are a good way of filling out your portfolio.

Sahlström also emphasizes that no work experience should be underestimated. You can learn something from all jobs. Before getting his start as a journalist, Sahlström gained varied experience working in different kinds of jobs.

For his non-military service, Sahlström worked for KEPA, the umbrella organization for Finnish development NGOs. He was a member of the team that organizes the annual World Village Festival in Helsinki. “It taught me how to manage stress. Even though a lot of things are going on at the same time, you have to stay calm at all times. This is also important in news work.”

Sahlström has also worked at a kiosk and a bookstore. “In customer service, you learn to connect with different people. During a broadcast, I always remind myself that I am not talking to the microphone or the camera, but to another person.”

Text: Juha Rudanko

Photographs: Samuli Siirala

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Antti SahlströmAntti Sahlström recommends temp work for young people who do not have much experience yet. If you give it your all, a temp job can take you surprisingly far.

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