Alison Coffa is a 20-year-old who will soon complete her Bachelor of Arts degree at Deakin University. At her internship with Pesel and Carr, Alison has been able to have a more ‘hands on’ experience. Alison also credits interning with helping her have more confience in her ideas and abilities.
Alison Coffa, 20, Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications) majoring in Public Relations and Journalism at Deakin University.
I haven’t quite figured that one out yet, but if I could combine my passion for communications and the media industry with my love for music, theatre and the arts, then I’d be pretty happy.
Tell us about your internship at Pesel & Carr
I’ve been at P&C for six months now, gaining an insight into life in an agency and working with a variety of clients on a whole range of different projects. From media relations, to copywriting and collateral development, to publicity campaigns, to investor relations, and to visual identity projects, I’ve had a chance to experience many different aspects of the industry within the one company.
What do you do on a daily/weekly basis? Being an agency, it is hard to describe an average day because every day is so different. First thing in the morning, I catch up on my emails and sort out anything that urgently needs to be worked on, then turn to my trusty ‘to-do’ list. I picked up a habit from a colleague at P&C to have a running list on a notepad that I just add to and change around as I need. This allows me to coordinate tasks that run over multiple days in the office. Some of the regular tasks that happen more frequently are media monitoring of the major daily papers, internal account meetings and keeping up to date with industry news. Other activities can include anything from compiling media lists, writing media releases, following up inquiries to journalists, attending events, client meetings, writing copy for websites and collateral material, coordinating third parties like designers and photographers, and administrative tasks like meeting reports and campaign evaluations.
Pesel & Carr is a small firm of around seven employees, have you found it beneficial for you as you’ve gotten to be more ‘hands on’? Definitely, I really believe that a major reason my internship has been so beneficial is because I’ve been able to have such practical experience in my time there. This is my first internship and I’d heard horror stories from students at other companies doing nothing but photocopying and coffee runs for weeks on end, but from the outset P&C made me feel welcome and like a valuable member of the team. I’ve been able to work on real client projects and more recently I have even been able to take responsibility for some tasks myself. The smaller staff group at P&C has also helped me in developing really positive working relationships with the others.
What has been the most valuable learning experience you’ve had while interning at Pesel & Carr? It really is difficult to narrow it down to one event as the most valuable. I think simply the experience of being in a firm and experiencing the daily ‘ins and outs’ that happen in the office is a major learning curve. Studying PR can only teach you so much about developing key messages, writing in a professional style and preparing media releases, but it’s not until you experience it yourself that you realise – sometimes the journalist doesn’t answer the phone. Sometimes no one responds to your media release. Sometimes some major news breaks the day you’ve sent your release out. There’s a lot that can just happen in the daily life of a PR practitioner that you don’t really learn until you come across it.
I can say that I’ve probably developed more than anything a greater sense of confidence in my own abilities and ideas as I’ve successfully called journalists out of the blue and arranged media opportunities, crafted my own media releases and seen them have an effect, or seen my own ideas come into fruition in a campaign. Uni has helped prepare me
in a theoretical sense for the industry but the practical skills and ability to apply this theory has really only developed since I’ve been working with P&C.
Tell us about your volunteer position at Theatrepeople maintaining their social media channels: Theatrepeople is a national website based around the Australian theatre and performing arts scene; posting audition notices, show reviews, feature articles, photos and videos from professional and amateur theatre companies. I came on board with Theatrepeople in 2011 as Communications Manager. My role involves the upkeep of the Facebook page and Twitter account, and since I’ve been working with them, the Facebook page has gathered around 3,000 more followers (reaching over 11,000 total). Engagement has always been key with the Facebook group, and many of our posts revolve around asking questions of our followers and starting discussions between them. The Australian amateur theatre scene in particular is very community focused so it is great to see people making connections and having real discussions and debates over relevant issues on the TP Facebook page.
What’s next for you? Will you do more internships? I finish my degree this year (seven weeks of classes left) so at this stage I’m not entirely sure what next year is going to entail. I will probably be job searching from this point but I won’t rule out another internship if a good opportunity presents itself. Over the last few years, I’ve been working a number of jobs as well as interning and uni, so I’m hoping that whatever next year brings my way, there will still be some scope for flexibility and variety.
Alison gives her intern advice:
You just have to keep your eyes and ears open and put yourself out there. It’s tough, but the truth is that there are probably quite a few students in your course, so anything you can do to differentiate yourself from your classmates will put you in good stead for the future.
Go to networking events (and talk to people), take a short course, read industry news, write a blog, or volunteer in something completely unrelated to your degree! I’ve been doing a lot of this in 2013 in particular, but I often wish I’d started earlier.
Also ensure you have the basics sorted. Employers in communications are always on the lookout for strong writing skills, so find any opportunity you can to practice and hone your writing – especially if there is the potential for publication. Writing an article for your uni magazine shows you can fit a brief, work to a deadline and put together a coherent piece – and it also gives you something to add to your folio when someone asks you to bring a writing sample to an interview.
Follow Alison on Twitter.
Check out the August issue of Girlfriend magazine to read the article, ‘Confessions of an intern’ which includes the interview Claire Starkey conducted with me.
Peter Williams, a journalism student from Melbourne, has experience with many different mediums, including print, radio and online journalism. In addition to the work he does writing opinion-based articles, Peter is responsible for the Rising Stars section of Bound for Glory News.
Establishing some great contacts and learning skills, his prior experience has helped him with both his current writing for Football Federation Victoria and co-producing the Bound for Glory radio show. With a Masters of Journalism on the cards, Peter is looking to improve his CV and hopefully make a full-time career out of Bound for Glory News. Peter tells My Interning Life how he found his passion for journalism.
Internships are an amazing way to open doors that you never thought were possible. When I was 14 years old, I applied to work at The Leader in Cheltenham. I was told by many in the industry that it was only for 16 year olds. I didn’t hold out much hope, but within a week I had a call from the Sports Editor, Paul Amy. He loved the samples of writing I had sent and wanted me to work for a week there. It was a fantastic experience to be a part of the newsroom, something that kids my age never got to experience. I knew from that moment on, I wanted to be a journalist.
In Year 11 at the age of 16, I applied to work for a week at the Herald Sun. This time it was my careers teacher who told me that the chance of getting there was close to nil given the preference given to metropolitan students. Hailing from Mornington and far from a private school, it seemed a long shot to get in. But once again, I was pleasantly surprised that I had received an internship there for a week. While the week was enjoyable, I soon learned that the metropolitan papers were less hands on than their suburban or regional counterparts.
I finished Year 12 in 2008 and got into my first preference of Bachelor of Arts (Journalism) at Monash University. Over the three years of 2010-2012 I majored in journalism and public relations while also enjoying history and marketing. There were huge differences between the subjects, but that’s what I loved about it. For the first two years at university I guess you could say I was still sort of in limbo as to where I wanted to be. I knew I wanted to write, but had just cruised along and expected it to all sort of fall into my lap like the other placements had. I soon learned that you can’t afford to be complacent in the industry and that hard work and not necessarily ability will get you there.
Towards the end of 2011, I was still working at a regular casual job at KFC with very few contacts and writing positions. I was achieving credits and distinctions at university in my favoured writing subjects, but I guess you could say I knew what I had to do to get them but I soon realised, a mark on a piece of paper isn’t going to get you a job.
In December, 2011 my whole world changed.
I was on BigFooty, an online football forum when I noticed a thread started by another MIL member, Ben Cuzzupe. At that time, I knew him as ‘GreatBradScott’ and he was looking for student journalists and keen footy fans to start a radio program on the Student Youth Network (SYN). Given I had been waiting for some sort of opportunity to present itself, this was my chance. Despite having filled the positions, Ben allowed me to come on board as a co-producer given my experience with radio journalism at Monash. It was through this Bound for Glory group that I have met many friends.
As I started to complete my course, I knew what I wanted to do. It wasn’t going to help my hip pocket or give me a 9-5 office job, but it was going to be something I loved doing. When the Bound for Glory team through the guidance of another BFG member Matt Marsden, started a website called Bound for Glory News, I immediately wanted to become as involved as I possibly could and started up a Rising Stars program for the 2013 season.
The Rising Stars program would involve getting a team together with the help of fellow BFG members Ashleigh Craven and Jourdan Canil to help scout and report on the TAC Cup. Without the help of these guys, this would never have been possible. Rising Stars would not only provide our readers with comprehensive information about the upcoming draftees in the TAC Cup, but also provide students with the necessary experience that is needed to gain a job in the uncompromising journalism industry.
A few months in, the team have about 20 writers who are keen footy fans that love writing about our great game. Over the next two years, I have a vision to expand the Rising Stars program to state leagues around the country so Bound for Glory News can provide the most detailed information on the future stars of the AFL.
My biggest message for all those aspiring writers and journalists out there is when presented with an opportunity, grab it with both hands and don’t look back because it could just change your whole career and life.
Peter and the Bound for Glory team are continually looking for writers who love footy and are determined to make a break-through in the industry. For those who are keen to join a team that gets over 5,000 individual views a month, you can contact Peter via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter.
You can also check out Peter’s Rising Star articles.
Wow. Has this girl got an impressive PR internship CV or what?
Emma Bedson, 20, currently studying a Bachelor of Communications (Public Relations) at RMIT, graduating in October this year.
Top boss at a consumer PR agency. Or perhaps Founder/Director of my own PR agency. The possibilities are endless…
You’ve had a busy interning life over the past year, tell us about your internships
Two Birds Talking
My first internship was at Two Birds Talking. I was the typical PR intern -running coffees, media kit packing, phone handling, booking and receiving couriers, editorial monitoring, database updates and so on. I assisted on a couple of events for Kookai and Nike. Whilst I liaised between their Melbourne and Sydney office during this internship, I had a chance to work at Two Birds Talking’s Sydney office as a fill-in PR co-ordinator. I hit the ground running at that time working directly on Kookai and Lovisa. If there is anything that I got from Two Birds Talking, it was MEDIA IS KING.
One Green Bean
Throughout the first half of 2012, I confirmed an internship with One Green Bean. I saved up for six months to pay for accommodation, flights and living expenses to intern full time with One Green Bean. During this time I prepared press kits and coverage reports, assisted with the production of events and performed admin and ad hoc office duties. I worked on a number of clients such as IKEA, Dunlop Volleys, Virgin Mobile and CBA. One Green Bean definitely showed me the difference between Melbourne and Sydney based PR.
I interned with Undertow Media briefly before going to Sydney last year. On my return, I came back as a contractor to assist their account co-ordinator on Mt Hotham, Kathmandu, Tupperware and Domaine Chandon. It was at Undertow Media where I learnt what the role of a junior PR professional is really like. I pitched to media on a daily basis, refined my writing skills, contributed to campaigns, proposals, brainstorms and meetings. I was also responsible for account administration & reporting, which inspired me to write my third year undergraduate thesis on PR measurement and evaluation.
This has been my most recently internship. Having vast industry experience prior to Mango, the team delegated tasks to me not usually given to interns. I worked across a number consumer accounts creating, pitching and following up media materials. I secured multiple pieces of coverage both in print and online. I spent an extra week at Mango working with their social media team to create content and see how social media runs within a PR agency.
What was it about working at a Sydney based PR company that attracted you?
I researched a lot of agencies in line with the area of PR I’m interested in. Most of them are based in Sydney so I emailed a couple of dream agencies for an internship placement. I have previously lived in Sydney and have friends who live up there so making the temporary move up there was more exciting and thrilling than daunting. I loved the entire experience and would do it again in a heartbeat. Moving up to Sydney permanently after I graduate is high on my to-do list.
How did you juggle university course work and paid work while interning?
It’s challenging but it can be done. I wrote a lot of to-do lists and time management was crucial. I will admit there were more than a few all-nighters to get the assignments done but I managed to juggle it all. In fact, I actually prefer the adrenaline rush. It makes you more accountable to your tasks and there is no room procrastination.
What was your most valuable internship experience so far and why?
My time at Undertow Media was the most valuable experience, especially when I was contracted to assist one of their juniors.
I immediately felt part of the team the minute I stepped into the office. I gained a strong sense of responsibility and accountability for everything that was thrown at me. My time management skills were definitely tested (a crucial skill to master so I advise to get on top of it ASAP). Nonetheless, I completed tasks with a passion because I wanted to prove to myself and my colleagues I could handle agency life.
Undertow Media taught me so much about the industry and how to operate in PR. I recommend Undertow Media to anyone interested in a PR internship, I would safely say they have one of the best internship programs around.
Tell us about your favourite client pitch you got to work on and what you learnt from it
McDonald’s has been one of my favourite accounts to work on. I really got to own a project where I wrote media material, pitched to journalists and secured multiple pieces of coverage. I was able to learn how to develop relationships with journalists (a true love-hate relationship) and refine my writing skills. It was so rewarding seeing coverage and knowing you had some input in making that happen.
What’s next for you?
I don’t have any internships confirmed for the near future but you never know what’s around the corner. Right now I’m focusing on completing my thesis and graduating but I’m sure I’ll slip in a few more placements before graduating.
Emma shares her advice for other aspiring PR pros;
There have been so many quotes to get me through my interning ‘journey’. My mum told me this quote just before cold calling an agency and it has resonated with me ever since:
“Sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage and I promise you something great will come of it.” – We Bought A Zoo
For anything you want to achieve, it’s always going to be ‘no’ until you ask. No matter how whimsical your ambitions may be, throw yourself into the deep end and you never know what may come out of it.
Jack Lucas 22, is an aspiring PR professional who has recently moved from regional Queensland to Melbourne to pursue his dream job of working in the sports industry. Jack is currently on the job hunt and MIL wishes him all the best in his job search.
My Interning Life by Jack Lucas
I’m Jack Lucas, and I graduated from Griffith University on the Gold Coast with a Bachelor of Communications in 2012. During my final year I undertook an internship with the iSelect Gold Coast Titans (NRL) in second semester. It certainly made my last semester a busy one but very rewarding at the same time.
We had a choice of where to do a Public Relations internship through a list Griffith provided or source our own independently, at the time I didn’t even know if their would be a PR related position at the Titans or if they took on any interns at all so I shot through a quick email to Titans reception and was put in touch with Organisational Development Manager Paul Crane.
I had an interview with Paul and Media Manager Adam Gardini who I’d be working with during my internship. The interview was a pretty casual meeting and it certainly helped that I’m a mad rugby league fan, it’s important to put across your personality alongside your knowledge and skills, I put myself out there and was given the spot over another applicant because both Paul and Adam thought I’d be able to establish a better back and forth rapport with the players than him.
I went in to Titans HQ two or three days a week during my internship and my duties were whatever Adam needed me to do. His phone is ringing non stop so there was a fair bit to do however we quickly established a weekly routine of core jobs to be done by me. They included inviting media to team announcement press conferences, releasing team lists online through the official website and social media channels, media releases and media calls for “captains runs” and promotional events, a team history story against upcoming opponents and any story you could put together from quotes after press conferences, I’ve put a couple of links at the bottom for examples. Basically everything I had previously studied in PR was put into a practical situation.
In real world situations you’ll learn things you can rarely learn in a lecture hall. We had a few dramas to deal with including player’s behavior, a CEO changeover, media reporting financial difficulties and inaugural recruit and captain Scotty Prince defecting to another club. I got a valuable experience in how to handle the media in situations like these, I remember a journalist giving a poor write up on a new recruit for 2013, the story painted him in a pretty poor light and rubbed the Titans the wrong way. It’s difficult because on the Gold Coast we were competing with two other major sporting codes in the A-League and the AFL so you want as much coverage as possible but obviously you want positive coverage. So we still invited the particular journalist to the next media call but restricted photo opportunities for the publication, it was a little trick I’ll definitely remember in future employment.
I was pretty lucky in my internship, I basically got a taste of my dream job in the industry I want to further my career in. If I was to give any advice to first time interns, it would be don’t be afraid to ask for an opportunity, the worst someone can tell you is no. I’ve recently relocated to Melbourne to find full time employment in the sports field and have found the going tough but it hasn’t deterred me from approaching businesses and organisations, if you’re afraid or embarrassed of rejection, you’ll really limit your opportunities. The pay off is definitely worth it to see your name next on a published piece.
Matthew Johnson is one of the students I met at the My Interning Life event in April. He impressed me with his enthusiasm and his recent experience at the Australian Open in January this year.
Find out what Matthew did at the AO13 and how you too can have a similar experience when applications open for the 2014 Australian Open.
19, Bachelor of Arts (intended majors in journalism and photography) at Monash University expecting to graduate in late 2015.
What is your dream job?
Ideally, my eventual dream job would be to become a reporter/photographer, either freelance or working directly with a media organisation, travelling alongside the tennis tour. I’ve had a love of tennis since the age of 10, and since I don’t have the skills on court to match it with the world’s best, documenting what the professionals do is the next best thing. I know it will require a lot of hard work, and , most likely, a number of years experience reporting here in Australia, honing my skills before I can try to take the step up to my ideal job.
Tell us about your role at the Australian Open in 2013
My experience at AO2013 was mainly as a photographer/photo editor. However, I worked closely with others working in related areas (ie. journalism, PR etc.) that I have a good understanding of most of the roles relating to media/PR etc.
My role was not only during the Australian Open period (three weeks), but also for three weeks in December during the December Showdown tournament (also three weeks). The December Showdown was a much more hands-on experience, with us photographers being in charge for not only taking our photos, but also editing them, and then uploading them to Tennis Australia’s flickr account. Events to be shot included matches, portrait sessions, PR opportunities and award ceremonies.
Describe your experience interning at the Australian Open
The Australian Open itself was a very intensive and eye-opening period. Having never worked in a media environment for longer than a week previously, it was initially a very daunting prospect. However, the environment that’s created in the media hub is incredibly motivating, and really pushes you to have an exceptional work ethic. By the end of the tournament, I was downright shocked with what I had achieved, and really reaffirmed to me that a job in the media industry, in some capacity, is what I endeavour to achieve.
The people who you work with are incredibly helpful. The amount of experience that many of my colleagues had was incredible, and I learnt a lot from some of the stories that they told. The skills that they help foster in you to perform the job to the best of your ability has really helped me in other aspects of my journalism and photographic pursuits since.
What was the most memorable experiences from the 2013 Australian Open?
The amount of amazing things you see behind the scenes is unbelievable. As where I worked was right across the corridor from one of the entrances to Rod Laver Arena, there would normally be a flurry of seasoned professionals walking past, including: Andy Murray, Jelena Jankovic, Victoria Azarenka. But I remember most vividly a time after Roger Federer finished a practice session, where he turned immediately from tennis professional to doting father. His two twins would run up and down the hallways, and he would start running after them. It’s something you don’t really expect from what you see on the TV.
I was lucky enough to take photos at a press opportunity at one of the marquees in Melbourne Park, where a number of veteran players would be gathering in an informal setting, chatting away to the media. I was lucky enough to meet the two Martinas (Hingis and Navratilova), Lindsay Davenport, Mark Woodforde, Guy Forget, among others.
Lastly, working during both the men’s and women’s finals was an incredible experience. The demand for photos to be uploaded and available online during the match was immense, and the experiences I had leading up to both finals helped me to cope with the fast-paced process. Plus, getting a photo with my idol from my early days playing tennis – Novak Djokovic – before he jetted off for Davis Cup duties was an added bonus.
From hearing fellow colleagues’ thoughts of AO2013, I can assure you that similar experiences are common, and such memories may come your way if you secure a role at AO2014.
What’s next for you – do you have another internship lined up?
I’m currently in between internships after having interned with the Herald Sun in their sports department during March (for a couple of days per week). Once exams for my university studies conclude, I will be ferociously trying to search out for the next industry placement I can potentially be a part of.
I also run a website called The Substitute, which I started back in June 2012. It’s currently in the process of being merged into The SportingJournal, where I’ll be working as part of their editorial team. So in the meantime, that will give me an outlet to continue being published in the online world, as well as honing my editing skills.
Matt shares his advice
Be persistent would be my main piece of advice. After sending in my application in June last year, it was a number of months before the job interview took place (a lot of applications are processed across all areas). In the meantime, I made sure that I would follow up with Tennis Australia’s HR department every few weeks to ensure that my application was still being processed. I did this to ensure that I would remain relevant to those who would be looking at my application, and reaffirm to them my interest in the job they were advertising.
Also, don’t underestimate what you can do during your time interning in the industry. I was completely blown away by the work ethic that I embodied during my time working at the Australian Open, and I put this down to not only being incredibly passionate about the role, but also the environment that those around me helped facilitate. Don’t ever doubt what you can achieve because more often than not you will definitely surprise yourself with what you can do.
And lastly, ensure you leave a lasting impression once your internship/experience comes to a close. Ensure to gain contacts, not only with your superiors, but (if relevant) others who were in the same position as you during your time working at the organisation. Professional contacts can help you to secure jobs in the future if you have a good rapport with them, and can act as mentors beyond your time at their organisation. Non-professional contacts can also be equally as useful, as you never know what they/you may achieve in the future.
Applications to apply at the Australian Open in 2014
Matt says, “One of the best things about working at AO is the near-guarantee that, if you’re still interested, you can return to work there in future years. As long as you’ve left a good impression on those who you worked with, it is pretty much certain that you can return to the same environment year after year.”
There are many roles in media/PR available, including: radio reporting, online content production, photography, social media, media liaisons, PR team members, etc. The full job list for the AO2014 will appear during the month of June. Keep an eye out and make sure you apply.
If you have any questions about the application process or for more advice feel free to tweet Matthew.