The world of interning can seem to be big, bad, and full of (monetary) booby traps. It can also appear to be a magical one-way ticket to paid professional gigs. LARISSA BRICIS quizzed three intern babes, in search of intern-Enlightenment.
Where did you intern and for how long were you there?
Hannah Story: Communications (Writing and Cultural Studies)
Holler Sydney, a digital advertising agency (four weeks full-time); Purple Sneakers, blog (six months); Momentum, digital publisher (six months); The Naher Agency, lit agent (six months); and Foke, small press (four months).
Emily Meller: Bachelor of Law / Communications (Writing and Cultural Studies)
BRAG magazine; I’m still there.
Mina Kitsos: Bachelor of Communications (Journalism) and International Studies
Inertia, an independent record label; ABC’s Limelight, a classical music magazine and BRAG Magazine, local street press – spending around a year at each.
Why did you choose to undertake an internship? Was it worth it?
H: I [wanted] to apply my skills to a real world context and decided to try out what interested me – advertising, music journalism, and different aspects of the publishing industry, including books and magazines… eventually music journalism became my full-time job and freelancing just an extra thing; you learn what you love and you build up skills that make you employable.
E: I wanted to get some concrete skills in editing and journalism. It was definitely worth it – even if you think you already know how to write, edit and put a magazine together in theory, there is no substitute for seeing it in action. There are simply so many aspects you have to consider, even just learning how to use a particular content management system is a significant skill you won’t get at uni.
Describe the best / worst experience you had while interning.
H: I guess the best experience is when you’re praised and come back with a reference that says you’re an asset to the profession – and there are perks like pub lunches, movie tickets and new contacts. But at the same time really what’s best is figuring out what it is you do and don’t like doing and what is a good fit for you. In terms of publishing I got to read manuscripts in their early stages and put them forward for publication or agency representation and now those same books are in stores.
M: Worst – SPREADSHEETS.
How did you make the most out of working for free?
E: I definitely took advantage of going to gigs as a reviewer. I probably saved a salary’s worth on concert tickets alone, which worked out really well for someone like me who almost constantly blows their budget on live music. I also asked for feedback on what I was writing, which was incredibly helpful.
M: Taking up every opportunity that was available. Conducting the shitty interview that no one else wanted to do, replaying the crappy CD no one wanted to listen to, and spending hours tediously copy editing without going mad. And loving it. I learnt so much from immersing myself in every aspect of the workplace, from digital work to just mundane conversation.
What was the most resourceful meal you learned to create while living on the cheap?
M: Vodka soda water.
One word to describe your interning experience.
Any wisdom to impart to current – and future – interns?
H: See everyone as a potential contact and friend, be sociable, and above all, competent. Ask questions, learn how to write sleek copy, and above all, LISTEN. You never know what you might learn.
E: It’s also a good way to see if you actually want to get into a particular industry at all – better to find out while studying than five months into a highly competitive grad job. Talk to friends and past interns to get the scoop, and keep your eye on The Loop and Pedestrian.tv. Get involved in Vertigo – it’s the kind of experience that will set you apart if the internship is highly sought after (shameless plug, but it’s true!). Also, always take the tickets.
M: You’re going to have to do better than night-before-it’s-due level of work (I know. Ugh.). For writers especially, your name is on your work. The Internet immortalises everything you publish and your portfolio puts itself together for you. Nothing is lost in cyberspace. And remember, you need the people you intern for more than they need you.
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