Classroom vs industry: top 5 things you cannot be taught at university

When I began working at Hockey Victoria in July, my CEO told me how he encourages his employees to get out the office and meet with contacts.

internshipSo that is exactly what I’ve been doing for the past month or so. I’ve been around town meeting with exisiting and new contacts within the media industry, picking their brain about their job and getting their advice. This has been overall a good and a bad thing. It’s been great getting out of the office and meeting with like minded people, but it’s been overwhelming when I think about how these contacts have a team and resources behind them.

At Hockey Victoria there is no team. I am the team. ‘There is no I in team’ but in this case…I am the team.

Which brings me to a coffee catch-up that I had with a new media industry contact. It was a meeting that made me reflect on several things on the drive back to work, one was how I really needed to stop doubting myself and to give everything I had to this job. Another crucial point that was brought up in our conversation made me reflect on what the classroom doesn’t teach you.

University doesn’t teach you how to have a thick skin, how to handle an angry client or stakeholder, how to react when a sports person tells you to f*** off in the changerooms, or what to say to a family who are grieving the loss of a loved one during a death knock.

How do you learn the most crucial parts of your career and your day-to-day tasks? Industry experience teaches you these things. Internships get you out of the classroom and into the real world.

I’d love to know what you think are the top five things that you cannot be taught at university.

Alison is studying a Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communication) at Deakin University. Alison tweeted me her top five things that she believes cannot be taught in a university classrom, and I agree wholeheartedly with this list.

1. What happens when the plan/theory you’ve learned just doesn’t work due to something unplanned.

2. How simple day-to-day operations go.

3. Working as part of a team is NOT the same as a group assignment.

4. Dealing with difficult or aloof clients/suppliers/journalists. People management and negotiating skills.

5. Media follow up, making contact with journalists, cold calling and phone manner.

What do you think? Do you agree with Alison’s top five things you cannot be taught at university?

If you’ve got a different top five to Alison, please comment below, Tweet MIL or me and/or tell us on Facebook. I’d love to hear the things that you learnt while interning that you simply cannot learn at university.


Internship: Retro Press

Retro Press is a letterpress, print & branding studio based on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

We are looking for a dynamic intern to work along side our Studio Director and Branding Specialist.

You will gain experience in all elements of the marketing mix by working with our branding clients in the fashion, beauty & lifestyle categories. You will also be involved in the preparation of the marketing strategy for Retro Press and the tactical implementation to drive the business particularly in the wedding & event industries.

The studio is a small yet dynamic environment with a real collaborative hands on approach.

To find out more about the marketing experience of our studio director feel free to visit We are looking for someone for one to two days per week for a minimum of three months to commence as soon as possible.

Send application through to

Applications close 18th August

Facing Your Fears

By Stephanie Hume.


To lead a rich and fulfilling life we all must push the boundaries on our comfort zone. However, to lead a life that pushes our level of comfort is no easy feat. At times it’s difficult to push yourself to do things you’ve never done before. Why? It makes us feel uncomfortable and vulnerable. However, in my experience, you stand to grow the most with experiences that push your limit and prove you’re far more capable than you give yourself credit for.

As an intern, and in your career, there will be countless moments where you’ll have to face a fear to achieve a goal. For myself, that has been enrolling in a public speaking club to overcome my fear of public speaking so I can be a better communicator. For others, it could be throwing yourself into a new work experience you know nothing about, learning a new skill or even simply attending a networking event alone to expand your professional contacts.


Below we’ve outlined what strategies can be used to face your fears:

–  Keep a glass jar of experiences you’ve courageously overcome and that you are proud of. This way you have easy access to past personal wins that will help you to boost your confidence when tackling new challenges.

–  Remembering that anxiety is natural and normal to all living beings. You don’t have to like it, however, no one has died from feeling uncomfortable.

–  Take a piece of paper and write down what your fears are. When they are written down it removes the fear from inside you and in my experience proves to me why I’m feeling anxious and that it’s okay to feel the way I do.

–  Understand that failure is apart of learning. When we were younger and we learned to ride a bike did the amount of times we fell off affect our desire to ride? I highly doubt it. We wanted that experience so bad we were willing to fail 1000 times to get there. Remember this next time you fail on the journey to your goal.

–  Acknowledge the goal or fear you need to overcome and the steps you need to take to achieve it. I sometimes make the mistake of seeing the goal I want to achieve and forget it is made up of components. By breaking the goal down into achievable steps, I’m more able to reach it and less likely to let fear get in my way.

– Write down your core values to lead your life. By taking the time to do this, life decisions are not ruled by fear or anxiety. If something like taking a new work opportunity is apart of your values, anxiety isn’t able to make a winning case to change your decision.

– Take up the challenge. The biggest waster of time in achieving goals is worrying, stalling due to anxiety and getting caught in the, ‘what if this happened…’ cycle. Courage breeds courage, so the more you say yes to things and push yourself outside of your comfort zone, the more opportunities you’ll take up.

–  Finally, you have to remember everyone experiences bursts of anxiety and fear in going after their dreams.  It makes it much more bearable when you realise fear is all apart of the pursuit of a career we want to have.


What other strategies would you add to the list?

Wishing you all the best in overcoming fears in your own life.

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

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.

The importance of cultivating a supportive peer network

By Stephanie Hume.

The life of an intern involves a journey of highs and at times many lows. At some stage you will feel lost, feel like you have a lack of direction, and go through periods of doubting yourself and your career path. Therefore, it is absolutely imperative to have a positive and supportive network to help you navigate through the difficult times. a

As an intern, I personally have required the support of friends and family to help me with putting together applications, prepping for interviews, overcoming anxiety in new work environments, dealing with rejection, and even harder decisions, like letting go of an opportunity for another one. As strong as I know we all are, a supportive network makes us even stronger.

However, what makes us stronger again is a positive, helpful and generous peer network. There have been times when my peers, who are pursuing the same or related careers as me, have been given opportunities when I have not. It’s natural to be envious. However, I learnt early on in my intern journey to remain supportive and celebrate their wins as much as my own. Through this commitment I have developed stronger and more beneficial connections with friends and new ones. I have a tight group of friends that make me an even stronger individual, that are genuinely happy for me and have my back at any moment. The world of PR, journalism, media, advertising and marketing are very competitive, however, I believe this is exactly the reason to band together as a team and help each other out.

Below are some tips to cultivate your own garden of nurture and support:


–       Let your friend or contact know of an opportunity you saw that they might be interested in applying for.

–       Cultivate some peer group love by making a habit of helping where you can and championing your friends.

–       Be genuine in congratulating them and celebrate with them in their successes.

–      Hold their hand or wipe away their tears when they are feeling down about how their journey is going.

–      Be honest with your peers about when you are applying for an opportunity you think they may have or had in the past. The sooner the better, rather than when you’ve already started. They’ll appreciate your honesty and it will strengthen the bond of your team.

–       Support others in their career navigation. Our journey is cyclical, some days we win some days we lose.

–       Be gracious in your own wins, but don’t feel you have to hide your happiness or celebration of a new opportunity. If you can’t celebrate happiness with friends where can you?

–      Offer to proofread job applications, cv’s or cover letters and help with mock interviews. It not only helps out your friend, but also you get the chance to see how other people approach applying for a job.


–       Continue to interact with people that cannot be happy for you or who try to bring you down. They honestly are not worth the drama or energy.

–       Make snide remarks or gossip about how your friend doesn’t deserve the opportunity that you didn’t get. You’re losing out on more than an internship or job, you’re potentially losing a friend who has loved and supported you.

–       Let defeat get you down, keep on applying and getting in touch with places you want to intern at and one day soon you’ll have your own chance to celebrate.

What other tips would you add that have worked in the past for you?

All the best in your own journey fellow interns! x


By Stephanie Hume.


With university holidays well underway I thought it was the perfect time to offer my recommendations for holiday reads to help inspire you all for semester two or even to help you navigate through your current internship.

I love any form of advice, inspiration or pep talk, that fosters personal growth and development, so it’s not surprising I love career-based books that impart valuable wisdom, which we can all learn something from where others have failed.

Below, in no particular order, are my top five career books for intern inspiration and are well worth a read.



1. If You Have To Cry Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Didn’t Tell You – Kelly Cutrone

For any future or current PR gun, this book is your bible. Dishing out some tough love, Cutrone lends her reader insight into her career highs and lows and how she learnt to overcome the extreme lows through cultivating a commitment to living a life of truth.

She empowers budding power people and provides practical advice and tips with examples from her personal and professional life. This book cuts through the niceties and forces the reader to go after what they want in life, which I found to be very empowering.



2. Women, Work And The Art Of Savior Faire: Business Sense And Sensibility – Mireille Guiliano


From the woman that brought us, French Women Don’t Get Fat, and the former CEO of Veuve Clicquot, this book offers a laundry list of business etiquette and practical advice.

Largely female focused, offering advice on work place practice, the importance of a career mentor and how to fulfill a successful professional and personal life. I found this book to be very helpful, at times lecture-like, but did offer relevant practical career tips.






3. Lean In: Women, Work And The Will To Lead – Sheryl Sandberg


Yes the brand new feminism book, but don’t judge before reading. Highly researched and lessons for men and women. Sheryl writes a very personal account on her experiences as a person, as an employee, as a leader, as a mother and as a woman. It is eye opening and insightful as to why women are in small percentages in leadership positions around the world. However, the research throughout is astonishing and proves we still have a long way to go in personal and professional lives to reach true gender equality.

I now have a new career crush. Sheryl is genuine and witty, and in showing her own short comings as a person proves even being a Harvard graduate and COO of Facebook does not protect her from facing insecurities and difficulties. To get a hint of what the book is about check out her TED Talk.


4.    The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter–And How to Make the Most of Them NowMeg Jay defining decade

I have not yet read this book, but recently watched Meg Jay’s TED Talk and was blown away. Through her experience as a psychologist she learnt that our “thirty is the new twenty” culture was making us twentysomething’s believe our twenties didn’t matter. However, Meg Jay argues the twenty’s are the defining decade of adulthood.

After watching the Ted Talk I had a mini freak out as I too had been tricked into this mantra that the twenties were a buffer decade in the lead up to our 30th birthday. This advice and insightful teachings are relevant and timely and a big wake up call, personally and professionally. I cannot wait to read this book.


5. Oh The Places You’ll Go – Dr. Seuss dr-seuss-front-cover-177908

I did say there was no order, however, this book has helped me through the highs and lows, mainly the lows, and is my favourite pick me up. Dr. Seuss weaves his words magically in this beautifully illustrated picture book. It’s actually a good book to re-visit as its narrative is empowering and helps show that your life will have many highs and lows and that’s natural and normal. My favourite line is:

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

There is also a video that was released by Burning Man in 2011 that brings to life the creative words and wisdom.



The list could inevitably keep going. However, these are my personal picks at the moment. We’d love to hear your own recommendations to see what other books you’ve read, are reading or want to read in the future, which could be added to the list.

Intern Profile: Peter Williams

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.

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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: or follow him on Twitter

You can also check out Peter’s Rising Star articles