Opinion: This is the second-best job in the world – what’s stopping you joining the fun?

by James Mills
7 September 2022 4 min read
Opinion: This is the second-best job in the world – what’s stopping you joining the fun?
Photo: JLR

The first best job in the world, for those who run on petrol and believe engines and tyres should be treated to the sort of thrashing Jeremy Clarkson was probably on the receiving end of at Repton school, is, of course, already taken, by those three mischievous men, Clarkson, Hammond and May.

So what’s the second best job in the world? Flying for the Red Arrows? Come off it. Can you imagine the qualifications needed? And as soon as they sensed you were a maverick, offering to take your eight-year old son and his pals for a birthday ride, you’d be out on your ear. Perhaps, in these times, being a scientist researching and developing vaccines would be about as rewarding as it gets? But what happens when someone that little bit brighter beats you to the magic ingredients, files their patent, and gets the adulation – and rewards?

I always imagined being a farmer would be a satisfying career. But since Clarkson took armchair pundits like me behind the scenes of the industry, the lasting impression is one of contradictory bureaucracy, exasperation and an overdrawn bank account.

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My children would probably tell me being an influencer is about as cool as it gets. Fame! Fortune! An opportunity to influence conversations and culture! Maybe, but given how many of them end up burning out and breaking down, the prospects don’t seem entirely appealing.

Okay, time to cut to the chase. Some of the young, earnest folk in the Hagerty office came up with the idea of offering an internship. And rather than burst their bubble and point out that nearly anyone you speak with, regardless of their trade, can’t recruit staff for love nor money, I agreed to shout from the rooftops – well, hagerty.co.uk/entertainment; have you bookmarked it yet? – about this opportunity.

If I were to rewind the clock by, cough – sorry, something stuck in my throat – 31 years, to the moment I came out of my A-levels having flunked in spectacular fashion, I could have done with something like the Hagerty Internship.

As it was, my dad made me write to the editor of every magazine I had piled up in my bedroom (car magazines, to be clear). One thing led to another and before you knew it I had bagged a summer job in the office of Auto Express, a weekly car mag that would go on to prove something of a nuisance to the opposition – Autocar.

This was such a long time ago that I would be paid in cash, at a counter, on receipt of a chit from the department head.

Not only that, I was expected to make tea and coffee for most of the office. Then there were all the photographic transparencies and press packs that had to be filed, alphabetically, some of the latter sent as faxes because we were up against a deadline and the journalist responsible for writing the review had been far too busy enjoying five days in the sunshine in Morocco that they’d not had time to pack the press pack and bring it back to the office, where they’d sit down and contemplate how to begin that week’s pressing task, a 500-word review of a facelifted Ford Orion.

People would dispatch me to park their cars, collect their cars, take them for a service, clean their cars… so it went on. It’s what you had to do to get a foot in the door in those days. So I did it.

2022 Hagerty Bull Market List
Want to take part in the 2023 Hagerty Bull Market List? The Hagerty Internship is the answer… Photo: Dean Smith

Slowly – really, painfully slowly – that foot in the door became a bum on the seat. Salary would be paid into my bank account. The road test editor let me drive cars to the test tracks (initially, nothing costing more than £20,000) and then, one day, that same road test editor, Bok Cooke, a fantastically barmy South African who had been poached from What Car?, realised he had forgotten all about the back-page review slot – called Autofile – so threw me the keys to an Astra 1.4 SRi estate, told me to take it around the block (essentially a couple of laps of London’s Blackfriars Bridge) get back pronto and write an exhaustive review.

But I forgave Bob, because that was my break. I did it, he escaped without a kicking from the editor, and I was entrusted with more responsibility. My first piece with a byline was a review of the Mini Cooper 1.3i, and then it all went a bit surreal.

I found myself living the life of a pampered supermodel. Journalists would be flown around the world to the attend car launches in five-star hotels in exotic locations. Each evening in the office was like Christmas, where you’d take your pick of which new car to drive home in, or keep for the weekend. Friends, and girlfriends, couldn’t believe it.

Test tracks were a health-and-safety-free zone, back then, so cars would be pushed beyond their limits, as you attempted to imitate the abilities of Roger Clark or Colin McRae. If a car was damaged in the process, you’d simply phone up and ask for another one to be sent down, so the photoshoot could be completed.

Times have changed, of course. (There’s no more physical filing, for starters!). But writing about cars remains one of the best jobs in the world. And the Hagerty Internship will allow for someone to have first-hand experience of just how enjoyable it can be – complete with a salary that doesn’t require chits and counters.

If you, or someone you know, might be just the sort of person who’d like to give messing about with cars a go, it’s time to stop wondering and throw your hat and driving gloves into the ring.  

This is a rare chance to get inside the car hobby and have hands-on time with a meaningful media operation. You’ll also get to play a role in the ever-growing events scene that Hagerty is supporting, as well as work with our client services team and take a peak behind the scenes of a successful automotive lifestyle company that has made it its mission to save driving for future generations.

And who knows, it could just be the start of landing the second best job in the world.

To find out more about the 2023 Hagerty Internship, associated benefits and terms and conditions, click this link.

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Check out the Hagerty Media homepage for news, features and drives, or better still, bookmark it.

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  • Ric Johnson says:

    “play a role”, not roll. I would think playing a roll would be a quick end to an internship.

  • David Lillywhite says:

    I’d say it’s the best, not second best. I wouldn’t want to be Clarkson… My break came when bored as a Marconi apprentice, flicking through car and bike magazines and randomly deciding to write to several asking for a job. My letter landed at Practical Classics the very day that Vicki Butler-Henderson resigned, and that was the start of it all. Good luck to all who apply for the Hagerty internship – you won’t regret it

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