Today on My Interning Life, Master of Communications student, Stephanie Hume, says that persistence, hard work and self-belief are key to having success while undertaking internships.
That’s a tough one as I feel I change my mind constantly, as new avenues from things I read and hear about always inspire me. However, I think it’s wise to have a few ideas and to be flexible at the same time.
Nonetheless, I’d love to get some experience in an agency such as Ogilvy or Edelman and then work in the marketing department of the NGV or the theatre’s of London or New York or even for film production companies like The Weinstein Company. It’s really quite endless. That’s what I love about PR I have so many ideas and industries I want to pursue.
Tell us about your internship experiences
My first break was at Mango Communications, which is part of the DDB network. After un-enrolling from a post-grad course that really wasn’t my thing I rang up Mango that exact same day and asked if they offered internships.
Coincidentally they needed one week to fill as their current intern was going to be away. I believe this moment was the universe extending me a slice of opportunity pie.
My week there was a dream. I was exposed to a bunch of hard-working, talented and friendly individuals and given real responsibility to coordinate coverage with the media for their client, Disney.
After getting into my course mid-year I finally found motivation to pursue internship opportunities elsewhere. I have been fortunate enough to spend a week at CHE Proximity part of Clemenger, three months at The United Nations Global Cities Programme and just before Christmas I spent a month full time at Red Agency’s Melbourne office.
It’s been an amazing 6 months and I’m still excited about what 2013 will hold.
Tell us about the the ripe and what you do
The Ripe is a music website started by Huw Nolan and Tom Pitney. It was launched last February and is supported by writers, photographers, videographers and editors. We review band’s work and provide media coverage of festivals and concerts in Melbourne. It’s been a great tool for us all young to contribute to our portfolio and we’ve also become really great friends too.
I am one of their writers and also do PR work for them on the side. It’s enabled me to keep up my writing and as there are talented writers onboard it keeps me motivated to constantly improve and find original ways of expressing myself.
It’s our first birthday this February 14th at The Workers Club. We’ve locked in City Calm Down, Collarbones and Panama to play there. It’s going to be so much fun. I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved in such a short time.
What has been the most important lesson you learnt while interning?
Persistence, hard work and self-belief are the three big things for me. There are times when I was overwhelmed with how much work I was given. I just had to breathe in and acknowledge that being nervous or unsure of myself was what happened to everyone in new experiences and when you are constantly thrown into new experiences it happens more often. There really is no reason why anyone should be self-doubting as we are capable of pretty amazing things.
Persistence pays off in bucket loads too. At one of my internships I spent most of my time developing a media report and had to call up pretty much every media outlet in the country for information the client needed. Its enormity was overwhelming but I just kept on putting on a brave face and calling those numbers and people eventually got back to me and I even formed a few relationships in the process. Persistence and hard work cannot be substituted.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Giving myself space is key and researching new music to review is a good distress. I do love spending time with my parents too. My favourite thing to do during semester is staying in on Saturday night and having dinner with them and then watching a movie. Bliss. Other than that I love reading and seeing my friends. Looking after my health is a big thing and the only way I get through how much I put on my plate. I can’t take big nights out anymore.
How do you juggle interning, course work, paid work, and having a life?
Last semester all I did was uni work, interning and saw my family and added socialising in sometimes if I had the chance.
I did an Arts degree at The University of Melbourne before my Masters and didn’t put as much of my heart into it. I’m being a massive nerd but I am absolutely loving it all and the opportunity to learn again. Plus my course only goes for a year and a half so I’m happy to make sacrifices now if it means I have a better chance of securing a job on graduating.
Stephanie shares her advice
You can check out all of Stephanie’s work on The Ripe and connect with her on Twitter.
It really is a no brainer. Do as much as you can. Email, call them up, search places online that are of interest and just put yourself out there for an internship, a week’s work experience, or even to meet up for a coffee to discuss their role.
You can’t expect a potential employer to give you a shot if you merely have a university degree. Experience in the industry is just as much an indicator of dedication to a career as it is a catalyst for personal growth.
It’s just a matter of starting somewhere. I’ve emailed places or called them before and received a stern ‘no’. But you can’t get put off by ‘no’ from one, two or three people. You’ve got to put things in perspective and realise the bigger goals and aspirations you are trying to achieve to motivate yourself to keep on calling and emailing.
Make the most of it whilst you are at university too. As whilst I wasn’t enrolled at RMIT, despite my enthusiasm and people liking my writing they wouldn’t take me on as I wasn’t covered by insurance that your university will cover. And if you are lacking inspiration go onto Pinterest’s quote boards. My, the time I waste on there. Good Luck.
Today’s featured intern is PR student, Clair White.
Clair White, 21, studying a Bachelor of Communication (Public Relations) at RMIT University, graduating at the end of this year.
I’m still not sure, but media relations for a sports club in a national league is at the top of my list at the moment.
Tell us about how you scored your internship experience in the Victoria Police Media Unit.
My internship coordinator sends emails to everyone in my course when internships arise. She sent out an email about a four week internship at VicPol and I thought I’d give it a go. I sent off my resume, had an interview and got the position.
What did you do on a daily/weekly basis?
My position in the unit varied depending on which team I was working with, as there are two sections of the media unit: proactive and reactive.
The majority of my time was spent in proactive. In this team, public relations issues are broken down into portfolios, with each of the full time staff members responsible for different portfolios. Some of the portfolios include: road policing, public transport and specialist support (air wing, water police, mounted branch, dog squad, Public Order Response Team, etc). The job of the proactive team is to gain media attention for issues VicPol want covered. This can include launches of new initiatives, blitzes and campaigns. The proactive team also work closely with prominent feature writers to collaborate on stories relating to their portfolios.
During my time in the proactive unit, I was ‘thrown in the deep end’ as they are quite understaffed. I relished the responsibility though, as this allowed me to do work that was actually needed, rather than just ‘intern work’ that was created for me.
Some of the more interesting things I got to do in the proactive media team included: media releases (including pitching to regional, metropolitan and major print, TV and radio), organising and attending press conferences, visiting 3AW’s Neil Mitchell program and ABC 774’s Jon Faine program with Chief Commissioner Ken Lay, writing a police member profile piece for the Herald Sun Career Expo guide and liaising with police members and media on a state-wide initiative in conjunction with V-Line.
I was also given several administrative tasks in the proactive team. These included collating daily regional press clippings (through media monitors), daily road policing clippings, monthly coverage reports (e.g. PSOs) and creating/updating divisional media contact lists.
I was also given great responsibility during my time in the reactive team. The reactive team deal with major current news issues relating to VicPol. All of the police coverage on nightly news, in major newspapers and on radio source their information from the reactive team.
Unlike the proactive office which is displayed in a traditional setting, the reactive unit is a much more collaborative environment. Instead of separate cubicles, team members in reactive sit along a long desk, with one supervisor overseeing all staff. From these stations, we field media enquiries from journalists from all over the country.
What was the most valuable lesson you learned while at Vic police media?
During my internship, two major lessons kept popping up.
- Get the basics down – you need to have your writing and communications skills on lock. Whether it’s a simple email to a colleague or a phone call to a journalist, you need to know what you’re saying, why you’re saying it and how you’re going to say it.
- You can’t anticipate media attention – some days I’d have stories that I thought we get heaps of attention and some that I didn’t think would get any coverage and it was those little stories that turned into bigger events. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill – you don’t have to send out a press release for every little thing. Go with the flow and deal with media attention as it comes to you.
You’re in your final semester at uni, what are your plans for 2013?
It’s so exciting. The idea of no more homework or timetabling is equal parts ridiculously exhilarating and terrifying. I’ve applied for an internship with a US not-for-profit organisation called To Write Love On Her Arms. They exist to promote help and provide hope to those dealing with addiction, selfy injury, depression and suicide. If I get the position, I’ll be in the States from mid-January to early May. After that is up to future Clair! Presumably, I’ll come home and find a ‘grown up job’. All I can hope for is that it’s something I’m passionate about, as I wholeheartedly prescribe to the notion that if you love what you’re doing, you won’t work a day in your life.
How did you juggle uni, interning, paid work and having a social life?
Very precariously. All I can say is that you can never underestimate that value of a good support network. Those days when you come home and you’re that frazzled you try to use your myki to get cash out and can’t really remember how you got into your pajamas, they’re the days where you just have to love and appreciate those around you who are wiling to help you out.
Will you do more interning?
I’m a work experience junkie – I love the stuff! I’ve helped on PR events, spent time at a boutique fashion/lifestyle agency, done social media and comms for a not-for-profit and shadowed some of Melbourne’s best PR practitioners.
I believe that we never stop learning and whether my future holds more internships or not, I know that there are so many things that I am yet to experience professionally. I am however, really interested in gaining some more experience in sporting organisations and media outlets themselves.
Clair shares her advice
While you may think the big bad world of media is scary, it’s made up of people who have come from the exact place you are currently. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t think that just because you’re young means that you can’t contribute. Listen to and learn from those around you. It sounds so corny, but if there’s something that you want/a place you want to intern at/someone you want to talk to – make it happen. You can do it.
You can follow Clair on Twitter.
I wouldn’t have found my internship at Milk PR without Eden. She referred me on to Milk after seeing an ad on facebook for an intern vacancy. I’m returning the favour and offering some amazing insight for aspiring writers and magazine editors. Eden was ‘thrown in the deep end’ when she landed a promotion as Editor of two magazines at Executive Media. Although Eden didn’t do an internship while at university, she worked hard at Executive Media for three years before landing her job as Editor.
The Basics Eden Cox, 26, Editor at Executive Media. I am currently the editor of two magazines at Executive Media: Australian Resources and Investment (a quarterly journal for mining and investment professionals), and Clubs and Pubs Manager (a brand new quarterly magazine for hospitality venue managers).
Qualifications Bachelor of Arts (Majors in Creative Writing and History), Postgraduate Diploma of Editing and Communications, Melbourne University.
Dream Job? I very much enjoy being a magazine editor, but, as is the case for most people, my dream job is not the one I have! Someday I would love to be able to support myself as a freelance children’s book illustrator. That’s a long way off, but it’s nice to have goals.
What do you do on a daily basis?
That’s a very big question for me! Working at a relatively small, independent publishing company, I’m involved in almost every aspect of magazine production. My tasks include writing, proofreading, researching, editing, deciding on topics to be covered in each edition, assigning articles to contributors, assisting the advertising department with sales concepts, liaising with printers and giving the final sign-off before press, marketing and distribution, writing media kits, and image-sourcing and other aesthetic considerations.
I also attend the launch of each edition of Australian Resources and Investment, where I meet with readers and potential contributors, which is a definite perk, as I’m treated to a wonderful three-course lunch at the Melbourne Town Hall on a regular basis!
Along with managing two of my own publications from start to finish, I also assist our other in-house editor, Gemma Peckham, with the production of her publications. We work as a team, checking each other’s work and ensuring any advertising is up to scratch. When I have time, I write travel articles for publication in another of the company’s magazines, Caravanning Australia. This sometimes involves working outside of business hours, but I like to keep up my writing skills and grow my portfolio of published work.
What kind of work experience have you had?
At the age of 26, I have already had a pretty varied working life, I think.
When I was 20 and studying arts at uni, I landed a casual job that I loved. My employer was an author writing a novel for teenagers, and he needed a young person’s advice on plot development, characterisation and dialogue. Each week he’d send me a chapter to read and edit, which taught me a lot about writing and how to change someone else’s work without offending them – a fine art indeed! It set me on my path to editing and when he finished his book, I immediately started applying for part-time entry level jobs in publishing.
It was about four months before I was successful (a stressful time, as I wasn’t sure how to deal with being unemployed!), landing a job as a part-time proofreader and office assistant at Executive Media. Over about three years, I waded through the mind-numbing task of proofreading ads and reception duties, and moved on to checking editorial, writing feature articles, and assisting with page layouts. Eventually an opportunity came up for a change when one of the editors went on maternity leave and I was given temporary control of her publication, Mothers Matter, a free lifestyle newspaper for parents.
This proved a great opportunity to discover what being an editor is all about; being a low-revenue, mass market publication, it wasn’t the end of the world when I made a mistake – and making mistakes really is the best way to learn!
I was completing my Postgraduate Diploma of Editing and Communications at this stage, learning the nitty gritty of grammar and structure that most people don’t even notice. After I had graduated, another great opportunity arose; Executive Media’s head editor resigned and I was thrown in the deep end! After a very brief hand-over I was given Australian Resources and Investment to manage, with lots of support and assistance from my managers and co-workers.
Every two months, after working so hard on every stage of the magazine, I still get butterflies and cold sweats when the latest edition is delivered straight off the press, expecting to see a big fat spelling mistake or formatting issue! Mostly that’s just paranoia, luckily!
What advice can you offer to publishing industry hopefuls…
Get your foot in the door whichever way you can. You might start at the very bottom of the ladder, like I did, or do work experience or an internship. It’s a competitive industry, so don’t expect to be climbing that ladder fast – it’s more like climbing a rope than a ladder! I was a proofreader/coffee fetcher/photocopier/general help girl for three years at the same company before I made it up the next rung, but it was worth it.
Once you’re in, work hard; show your employer that you love the work and are willing to put effort in. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice or assistance; the best workplaces are team-oriented, and your willingness to get it right will be appreciated. Importantly, never say no to an opportunity. Even if you don’t think you’re good enough, give it a go and you’re likely to discover that you’re more capable than you thought!
Look out for Eden’s Professional Writing Advice on My Interning Life tomorrow.