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.


Talking Total Sport wants YOU!



TTSDo you have a love for sport and lifestyle?

Talking Total Sport is looking for sport and lifestyle writers to join our team to cover these hot topics.

Do you enjoy writing and want to cover some of the biggest topics in Australian sport and lifestyle?

Whether it NRL, Hockey, Swimming, AFL, Netball, Cricket, Yoga, Running or even Clean Eating tips, we want you to join our team today!

Please email your interest to with a copy of your resume and which 3 sports or lifestyle topics (in preference order) you would like to cover.

Whether you are an aspiring journalist or a qualified student, we would love to hear from you.


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

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.

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

Intern Profile: Jack Lucas

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.

You can follow Jack on Twitter and check out some of his articles from his time at the GC Titans here

Intern Profile: Matthew Johnson

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.

265121_10152439449235099_1927682712_nThe basics 

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.