Eliza Sum is a ‘Singaporean girly girl who cusses like a sailor when the Cats lose.’ She is also a journalist for the Geelong Advertiser coastal bureau.
“Interning would give me invaluable experience and put my name out there so it was a no-brainer,” says Eliza.
Eliza is the fourth person from her graduating class to be employed by the Geelong Advertiser and has been working as a full time journalist for a year.
Eliza completed her first internship with the Geelong Advertiser in 2008. She says she enjoyed her first intern experience but was shy and unsure of what she wanted to do. However, Eliza knew that gaining hands on experience in the media industry would help her find the right career path.
In 2009, Eliza interned with the Sunday Herald Sun where she broke a news story in her first week. She then flew to Sydney where she interned with the Walkley Foundation for three weeks.
At the Walkley Foundation, Eliza wrote press releases, updated media contact lists and sub-edited pages from the Walkley magazine. Eliza was also given a byline in the magazine something she is proud of.
Eliza then returned to the Sunday Herald Sun before starting what turned out to be a six- week internship with the Geelong Advertiser.
Usually the Geelong Advertiser take on interns for two weeks, but Eliza kept extending her time as she enjoyed the atmosphere and working environment.
On her first day of her six-week internship at the Geelong Advertiser, Eliza was sent out to do vox pops at Avalon Airport before receiving a phone call saying Carl Williams had been murdered.
“The photographer and I dropped everything and dashed off to Barwon Prison and it was just crazy town. Media everywhere, TV cameras, helicopters, the works,” says Eliza.
“The web editor was also on the phone to me, telling me to tweet everything I saw and heard so they could embed my posts on the website. I was there for about an hour before another journo came and took over.”
After her extended internship with the Geelong Advertiser, Eliza spent two weeks in the K-Rock and Bay FM newsrooms. Eliza knew at this stage of her studies and experiences that she loved working in media organisation’s newsrooms.
Eliza received a phone call a few weeks later from the Geelong Advertiser offering her a casual position, which she accepted and started immediately. She started off helping in the editorial department where she wrote property and advertorials.
“Not the most sexy stuff [advertorials], but I knew I’d be working on the news desk if I put in the hard yards and hassled my editor to move me across,” says Eliza.
After four months, Eliza’s wish came true. She was offered a full-time graduate position on the newsdesk before she was promoted to cadet. In February this year, Eliza was sent to the Geelong Advertiser coastal bureau in Torquay.
Eliza credits her intern experiences with the Geelong Advertiser and her various experiences with other media organizations that lead to her dream job that she has today.
“The Geelong Advertiser is a fantastic stepping stone in the industry. It’s a great regional paper with an amazing team of staff behind it. I’m very, very lucky to have been given this chance to work with News Ltd,” says Eliza.
While at the Geelong Advertiser, Eliza has been given extensive training such as mentoring sessions with senior journalists, shorthand classes and participates in an online training program. She also does vox pops, writes picture stories and scours news and social media websites for the next big breaking story.
Eliza says that one internship is never enough and says that gaining as much experience will help you stand out to employers. She recommends putting yourself out there using social media tools such as Twitter to converse with editors and journalists.
“Just get over your fears and do it. Interning is so, so important. Don’t underestimate it. There isn’t a media organization out there that will employ you if you don’t have any prior experience,” says Eliza.
“When it comes to the media, I believe that interning is more important than anything you could learn at university – it’s just a hands-on experience and you get to watch and learn from journos who are actually at work.”