Paul McClean
Paul McClean, right, shooting a video in London in 2015 © Courtesy of Lisa Essex

The FT’s Paul McClean graduate trainee programme, now open for applications, recruits and trains entry-level journalists from all walks of life for a long-term career at one of the world’s leading, and most respected, news organisations.

The scheme is named after Paul McClean, a gifted journalist who produced groundbreaking work during his two years as an FT trainee. Sadly, Paul passed away in September 2017.

We are looking for talented, driven reporters like Paul who want to develop an FT career in financial journalism and global affairs; people who are curious about the world, strongly committed to serious journalism and who enjoy the thrill of nailing a good story.

Video description

The FT’s Paul McClean graduate trainee programme is now open for applications until January 13, 2024. The video features our most recent graduates who talk about their experience and share advice for those interested in applying

© FT social media team

Alumni of this highly competitive scheme — now in its 38th year — are well represented in senior staff of the FT and other news organisations around the world.

Applicants must demonstrate they can cope with the pressure of working in a fast-paced news organisation with assignments abroad. You should be a self-starter committed to unstintingly high standards, have a keen interest in business and global affairs, an international mindset and sharp reporting instincts. Strong writing ability is vital. You should be excited about getting scoops and telling stories across all formats.

Data journalism skills and languages, in addition to fluent spoken and written English, are an advantage, as is the ability to understand different cultures.

The Paul McClean graduate trainee programme is not an internship or fellowship: it is a full-time contract as a trainee Financial Times journalist.

Successful applicants to the three-year programme will join us in September 2024. They will first receive seven weeks of in-house training, then have four six-month stints on different news desks, including one overseas posting. For the third year, the trainee will undertake their first dedicated job, assuming good performance. Mentoring, feedback and further training are provided throughout.

How to apply

All candidates must already have the right to work in the United Kingdom for a minimum of three years, at the point of application.

Please upload three documents.

1. CV: include the name and city of your secondary school; university and subject details; post-grad education (if any); other qualifications including data journalism skills; languages (include competency level, ideally on the CEFR scale); leisure interests.

2. Cover letter: tell us about yourself, including why you want to be a journalist at the FT and why we should choose you.

3. An unpublished news story with emphasis on original reporting, on a topic of interest to FT readers. We are looking for a story that you have researched and written yourself with the FT in mind. It should be a news story — not an opinion piece. Submissions that have been published will be rejected. (500 words max.)

No artificial intelligence tools are allowed. The story will be run through AI and plagiarism detection tools. Use footnotes to cite your sources. In no more than 250 words, tell us at the bottom of the story why you chose this subject, who you interviewed and why.

Please record any interviews and keep them, as well as email/WhatsApp/Signal etc exchanges from which you drew quotes and material. We will ask for them if you make it through to the next round. Tell your interviewees we may contact them.

Applications submitted without all three requirements, will not be assessed.

The deadline for applications is January 13 2024. Successful applicants will start on September 9 2024.


Graduate trainees join the FT on a one-year contract, extended for up to a further year at the discretion of the company. Successful trainees are encouraged to apply for staff positions that become available towards the end of their second year of the three-year scheme.

The salary is £30,000 in the first year, rising to £34,000 in the second year and £38,000 in the final, third year on appointment to the first job in a competitive application process. In addition, the trainee will receive a one-off £750 welcome payment on joining. These terms are subject to good performance throughout.


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