Where are they now? Kahla Spooner

When we first met Kahla Spooner she was a “self confessed coffee addict, fitness freak and loves a spontaneous adventure.” Kahla had completed several PR internships across a variety of organisations. Two years on, Kahla tells us in her own words, about her journey finding a job and the pathway she chose that lead her to landing her current job as Community & Social Media Coordinator at Fernwood Fitness
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Where are they now? By Kahla Spooner

It seems like a lifetime ago when I was last interviewed for MIL but what a journey the past two years have been! Unlike most interns, I didn’t transition from University to the industry immediately; instead I have worked my way up the corporate ladder. After graduating and completing my internship with Milk PR in 2011, I found it extremely challenging breaking into Communications/PR world – even with the amount of practical work experience I had behind me, instead I opted for an alternative route.

With a passion in health and fitness I applied for a basic sales role at my local Fernwood club and within a few weeks the National Sales Manager (at the time) got a hold of my resume and called me in for an interview. During the interview stage she told me that I was over qualified for the role and promptly created a new role for me. She took me under her wing and two-weeks later I started working full-time as a National Sales Trainer with Fernwood.

With a strong desire to grow with the business and learn as much as I could, I remained committed to my role embracing and learning anything and everything that would assist with my professional development. I was fortunate to work throughout VIC, NSW and SA undertaking sales training with teams from all departments. Within a few short months my role advanced, moving into management followed by operations training and club development.

When I was working in clubs, much of my focus was based on local area marketing, cross promotion opportunities, sales training, implementation of policies and procedures, networking and brand management, all which I found to be extremely beneficial enabling my communications and PR skills to shine. The growth over this short period allowed me to learn a lot about my own capabilities and the experience truly shaped me for the better; expanding my skills and qualifications further than I would have ever imagined.

After almost two years working for Fernwood, a career opportunity arose in the Marketing department in our National Support Office. Wanting to always revert back to my communication roots, this deemed a fantastic opportunity to utalise my extensive knowledge of the business and apply for a role that nestled perfectly with my qualifications. After a three-stage interview process, I was successful and am now currently working as the Community & Social Media Coordinator for Fernwood Fitness (so yes, I actually work on Facebook and Twitter every day).

Sounds like a pretty sweet gig, right? Well it is and I honestly I can’t complain, Fernwood is a great company to work for, but managing social media platforms can actually be more challenging than many people think. My day-to-day tasks involve managing our main Facebook pages, overseeing and moderating our other club pages, managing posts for our Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest feeds, content creating, community engagement through our internal forums and social media sites, utilising analytics and insights to measure growth and performance, media monitoring, managing online campaigns and competitions, providing excellent customer service and staying abreast of new trends. Working in our head office also means I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of projects in other departments like working on-site for video and photo shoots, which is always so fun!

My advice to others taking a similar road to me is to always remember the path that you’re on. Taking an alternative route can back-fire as many people can get caught up in the financial gain of a job opportunity, get complacent and lose sight of where they started in the first place. For me, I always knew the direction I needed to go, so while I may have taken a couple of turns along the way, I ended up exactly where I wanted to be. For now this is a fantastic opportunity to learn and grow from great mentors and industry professionals and I’m looking forward to all the amazing possibilities to come.

You can follow Kahla on Twitter and read her internship post here.

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My Interning Life: No longer the intern

Hi everyone,

aubrey gradJust a small update on what I’ve been doing over the past couple of months. I graduated with a Bachelor of Media Studies (Journalism) in May and have recently begun a new adventure at yet another Aussie sport organisation.

In March I began working as communications coordinator at Netball Australia covering a maternity vacancy. It’s been a different transition from intern to full time employee, however I’ve immensely enjoyed my time there. Sadly my contract ended at Netball Australia at the end of June.

When I reflect on the projects I’ve worked on over the past few months, I’m really proud of how I’ve helped rejuvinate Netball Australia and Australian Diamonds various social media platforms. It has been tough at times creating content during the ‘off season’ (the Diamonds only go on tour for about one month of the year) but I’ve worked with what I was given and my job was made easier as the ANZ Championship was in full swing during my contract.

I always was aware of my ‘deadline’ during my time at Netball Australia was coming to a close as each week passed by, however a spanner was thrown into the works about six weeks before my contract was up. The person whom I was replacing had announced their resignation and was moving on. This meant their job as digital communications manager was now up for grabs.

But life as always has other plans.

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My ex-university lecturer from my sport journalism class gave me a call one day asking about my job at Netball Australia and how I was going. I told him about my time there and how there was now a vacancy but they were looking for someone with more experience. My lecturer said, ‘well, let’s get you out of there’ and proceeded to tell me about an opportunity at Hockey Victoria. My lecturer told me how he was only putting me up for this job as communcations coordinator because I had always stayed on line with where I wanted to go in my career.

To say I was overwhelmed was an understatement. I knew that a lot of my classmates were relying on this particular lecturer to get them jobs in the sports industry because of their connections. I’m so greatful that I was the sole person who was recommended for the job.

After a few emails with the CEO from Hockey Victoria, Ben Hartung, I ended up being interviewed by him and two other employees. Or should I say ‘chat’ as Ben wanted it to be more of a chat about me and my experiences to see if I was the right person for the job.

I was offered the job a few days later and Ben asked me to discuss it with my boss, Karen Phelan, as I was still applying for the job at Netball Australia. My chat with my Karen was one that helped me decided where I would go. Karen was completely honest with me and said the person who had resigned was having second thoughts and she had given them until Friday to change their mind. I only had until Wednesday to tell Hockey Victoria my decision but I knew hockey was the best position for me.

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So it is with much delight (and some nerves) that I will be commencing a new role as communications coordinator at Hockey Victoria in July.

I’ll also be making some steps towards changing My Interning Life into a fully fledged website with the help of Mildred & Duck.

If you’d like to share your intern journey please give us a shoutout on Twitter or Facebook


My Interning Life: I intern, therefore I am?

It’s been five months since my last post and it’s because I’ve been dreading writing about my journey since finishing university.

superpitI finished my Bachelor’s degree at the end of October, hopped on a plane to Western Australia and my boyfriend came home (for good) after he resigned from his position at the Kalgoorlie Miner as a journalist.

We drove through the Australian desert from Kalgoorlie to Perth and had a short holiday exploring the western city.

Then it was back to reality.

The reality that I didn’t have an internship nor did I have a full time job lined up.

I thought, “Who am I if I’m not an intern?”

I’ve been an intern for almost two years now and it was daunting to think I actually had to go out in the world and find a full time job. I was scared, unsure and just hoped that my internship experiences on my resume would help me stand out from the graduate pack.

The moment I got back to Melbourne after flying back from Perth, I received an email from Adam Frier at the Melbourne Rebels. I had contacted Adam on my own accord asking if there were any positions at the Rebels and in Adam’s email he asked to meet with me the following morning for a ‘chat.’

I soon learnt that in this industry there is no such thing as a ‘chat.’

My chat with Adam at the Carlton FC cafe (Rebels share facitlities with Carlton) soon turned into a job interview and I realised that I could actually be working in a full time position sooner than I thought.

MIL trophy shotMelbourne Storm was also on hold as my former boss said he would let me know if any opportunties would arise in 2013 and luckily there was a new position at the club, a content producer role.

Unfortunately for me, that role was given to the other Storm intern, Jonathan. The role was more writing based and Jonathan was the match reporter during the 2012 season and, he was an aspiring sports journalist so it made sense to give the role to him.

I’m not going to lie, I was upset that I didn’t land the job after my internship with Storm. You can’t help but become attached to a club and a workplace when you  have been interning there for so long.

I then received an email from Adam that there had been some redundancies at the Rebels and somebody from the commercial team would be given the role I was interviewed for.

At this point I felt like a failure.

It was the new year and I had missed out on two jobs that I would’ve loved to take on. I didn’t get the fairytale like Luke or Ashleigh. In retrospect I was very naive to think that things would just work out, praying for serendipity.

I’d been in touch with another person from a sports club, who has acted as a mentor for me and he told me that I needed to “always have a Plan B.

Interning was my Plan B, however I didn’t yet have anything lined up but I decided that I would tackle the AFL. I set a goal for myself at the end of last year that I wanted to work for an AFL club within the next two years.

My mentor then sent me an email saying he had referred me on to Jonno Simpson at the AFL who was looking for a social media coordinator. Although my mentor didn’t promise me an interview, he told me to send Jonno my resume that afternoon.

I’ve had such highs and lows in the past five months and scoring an interview with the AFL has definitely been a highlight. I was unsuccessful with getting the job at the AFL and the role went to Dion.

So again I went back to my Plan B.

Before the Christmas break my mentor sent off my resume to Essendon FC. In January I sent an email to Essendon following up and one week later I was sitting in the boardroom at Windy Hill for a ‘chat.’

I met with two media employees and they asked me numerous questions about my experiences at Storm and my thoughts on social media. I met with them again a month later and the plan was for me to conduct Essendon’s social media for Family Day.

Aubrey EssendonLast Thursday I began as a media intern at Essendon FC doing some website content work for the media team. On Monday I conducted the social media for the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram Essendon FC accounts for Family Day. I made a couple minor errors but overall I had a great time and it was fantastic to see so many of the red and black faithful support their club.

At this point I’m unsure of what 2013 is shaping up to be. On March 17th I would have been an intern for two years and I’ve now got to make the transition from intern to employee. I know that I’ve been fortunate enough to have been considered for a few sports jobs which is perhaps more than many. The hardest part about these past five months has been the rejection but I can honestly say that as one door closes, another door opens. The right job will turn up for me, I just have to be patient.

I’m sure I am not the only one who has gone through the job hunting process. For some of you it may have been the fairytale and for others it may still be a journey but at the end of the day this is what we signed on for. The media industry is a tough nut to crack but make sure you are always looking for the next opportunity and asking yourself what else you can do to further your skills.

Don’t sell yourself short, be proactive and believe in your knowledge and experiences because eventually it will land you your dream job and remember to always have a Plan B.

So I hope you all understand why I’ve stayed away from the blog for so long. I hope that I can continue to share my story with you all and I that help other interns along the way.

Post Edit

When I originally wrote this post last Tuesday, I didn’t have a job. I’ve just started my first week at Netball Australia as Communications Coordinator. I had previously applied for a video based job at Netball Australia/ANZ Championship and was unsuccessful but they kept my resume on file for future opportunities. Two days before I started at Essendon doing casual work, I received an email from Karen Phelan asking if I was interested in taking on a contract in a digital communications role. I met with Karen last Thursday and she immediately offered me the job.

I’m excited, nervous and over come with emotion.It’s going to be a busy and challenging few months ahead but I look forward to this next chapter in my life and the beginning of my career.

If you’re in Melbourne My Interning Life will be holding a catch-up event on Monday 15th of April at The Honey Bar from 6:30pm until 9pm. 

Interns and industry professionals are all welcome. Remi, Isobel and myself will all be attending and ready to answer any questions you may have. You can RSVP to the #MILevent on Eventbrite. Hope to see you there! 


Happy Birthday to MIL

Hi Everyone,

Guess what!

August is our birthday month! Yep, My Interning Life began on August 5th 2011.

I can’t believe how quickly time flies. I know this blog has seen a lot of interns and experiences. I also know that I’m in a very different place than I was last year with my internship experience.

This month I’ll be posting some of the first entries that ever featured on this blog.

So let’s start with our very first Intern, Remi Gordon. Remi is now in her second year studying PR at RMIT and has an internship lined up with Style Counsel PR in September. Congrats Remi.

 

 


Intern Advice: Mary Scriva

BY MARY SCRIVA 

I have over four years of combined experience in marketing and events; I am currently working for an international manufacturing company as a Marketing Coordinator and manage the communications, brand development and events within the company. I recently developed a blog to share my learning’s and successes through my career, follow my adventures on my blog or connect with me on twitter or LinkedIn.

5 tips for a successful transition into full-time work

 I recently wrote an article about the struggle of graduates finding full-time jobs after completing their studies and it turns out this is still as common as it was seven years ago when I was a graduate.

I have been asked to give my 5 top tips to assist student interns in their career paths for success (I wish someone shared them with me).

1.   If your course offers placement for a year, do it. It will extend your course, but it will give you hands on experience in the field and allow you to make contacts and stay ahead of the game.

2.   Network, Network, Network. As sad as this may sound, sometimes it’s who you know and not what you know; and no one is going to know you stuck in your bedroom. Attend networking events as much as you can, especially within your field.

3.   I still volunteer my time even though I work full-time, why do I do it? It gives me the opportunity to meet people and contribute my skills, and hence increase my portfolio; I recommend you get on this bandwagon!

4.   Start building your brand profile, create a professional account on LinkedIn, start tweeting or develop a blog – so many internships and jobs are posted via social media and prospective employers will check out your digital presence before they even meet you.

5.  You will meet people in amazing positions, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself, hold a conversation and follow-up. Take advantage of the opportunities that come your way and you will have nothing to regret. LinkedIn and twitter are a great way to break the ice and develop a connection.

Tip: Volunteer/intern as much as you can within your selected fields whilst you’re still studying, you will make more contacts and have a better understanding of the world you are trying to get into.


Intern update: Matthew Dixon

Matt Dixon was in his final weeks of finishing his Bachelor of Journalism degree at La Trobe University, when he was invited to apply for a journalist position at the Kalgoorlie Miner in Western Australia. Matt was offered the position and after some careful consideration, he made the move from Victoria to WA to begin his career as a journalist.
 
Matt has just completed his first week at the Kalgoorlie Miner and this is his experience. 

My first week at the Kal Miner.

For those of you who haven’t worked at a daily newspaper the experience can at times be difficult and somewhat stressful. Battling deadlines, spending hours on the cold calling sources and trying to hunt throughout a town you know very little about to find a story doesn’t sound like much fun does it?

Luckily for me the Kalgoorlie Miner is an amazing publication or more to the point an amazing team. Moving to a new town to start a job in which one of the keys is being “in the know” about what is happening is never going to be easy but it all depends on the environment. In this case all the other journalists and photographers were extremely helpful and made my week fly by.

The stories I did were actually of a wide variety (mainly because I don’t have a round yet although that shall be pencilled in this week I hope). On my first day I spent most of the day sitting in a court room listening to the stories of those who managed to get themselves in trouble on the weekend. This meant my first published articles were court briefs. Over the next few day I completed stories on everything from quilting groups, breast-feeding, girls scouts all the way up to a piece for our weekly magazine about a local citizen and their pets. Yes, it may not be extremely hard hitting just yet but this are the sort of stories that sell a newspaper so the hard hitting pieces will have to wait a few more weeks until I get settled in to the town that is Kalgoorlie.

What the experience here thus far has drilled into me even more has been the importance of previous work experience while I was studying. I was lucky enough to work for a newspaper in the USA and be on the editorial staff of university run magazine at La Trobe. It makes the transfer to a “real job” just that much easier. How many university students who haven’t done work experience or interned somewhere would know or understand how a newsroom works or what to do to cover a story quickly and comprehensively? Just being able to sit in on a workplace (even if you are making coffee for the employees) will teach you a lot more than you think.

There is no question moving away from home was a hard for me, as it would be for anyone. But the thing a lot of journalism students are yet to realise is that that is what most media companies want. It is easier to stay in Melbourne or Sydney and spend two years working for nothing than it is to move away from home and work for a daily news paper or TV station. Most of the large media organisations actually have unofficial policies that they will not hire anyone who hasn’t done regional reporting for at least 18 months (excluding cadetships and traineeships).

So if my first week has taught me anything at all it is go regional and get experience. Put yourself out there and learn on the job rather than assuming a degree will make everything okay because it is just one small part of a huge challenge.

You can read more about Matt’s work experience and follow him on twitter.