Today’s featured intern is Sophie Shaw.
Sophie is an aspiring sports presenter and has been networking in the industry since she was 15 years old. She has just finished a summer internship at Cricket Australia and has also interned at Melbourne metro newspaper, The Herald Sun and CrocMedia.
Sophie Shaw, 22, studying a Bachelor of Sports Journalism at Latrobe University. Graduating mid 2014.
TV sports reporter/presenter. Always remember watching Christi Malthouse as a boundary rider for the AFL and that’s what kicked off my desire to be a sports journalist on television.
You’ve just finished a summer internship at Cricket Australia – tell us about it.
Prior to commencing my work with Cricket Australia I had to do some serious homework. I really had no idea about cricket other than some basic rules so that was my first challenge: preparing. I printed off profiles off all the current Australian contracted cricketers and studied their history and form. I then did the same with the opposing Test teams (West Indies & Sri Lanka).
It was throughout my time at CA that I developing an in-depth knowledge of the Sheffield Shield & Big Bash competitions along with the women’s teams.
My daily jobs would begin with monitoring all of CA’s social media sites, updating these social pages and the official CA website with news and relevant content, providing live scores and updates throughout Test matches, Sheffield Shield, Big Bash, Ryobi Cup and Women’s World Cup competitions, writing articles and creating photo galleries for website, and assisting with events/marketing/PR.
I worked with camera crews on match days to film segments for CATV (CA youtube channel) and I also had to work with a team to develop and implement effective social media strategies and identify opportunities for growth. I also learnt to use photo and video editing tools as well as having complete control over the CA website. Everything that had to be added or changed on the website had to go through me.
Tell us about your previous internship experiences at CrocMedia and the Herald Sun.
My roles at CrocMedia and in the AFL department at the Herald Sun were actually quite similar. I was with CrocMedia for one day a week for most of the 2012 AFL season and I spent four weeks full-time working with the Herald Sun in February 2012.
At both of these internships I was sent out to AFL press conferences. For CrocMedia, I had to record the interviews and then edit what I believed to be the best parts of the presser for distribution. At the Herald Sun, I was sent to the pressers to find a story. At the start I found myself getting pushed to the back of the back and being too nervous to open my mouth but the end I was claiming my position up the front and demanding some answers. It would make the story that I would have to file within 20 minutes much easier to write when I knew what I was looking for.
At my time with the Herald Sun, I was also given the opportunity to attend AFL matches with high profile journalists and sit in the press box where I would watch how they went about planning and then writing their match reviews. Their stories would need to be filed within minute of the game finishing so it was very interesting to see how they do it. I once spent a night in at the MCG in the press box with Emma Quayle (from The Age) where I was her shadow for the night. The match was going one way right up until the last quarter, and it was amazing to see how Emma so calmly started all over again.
You’ve interned with some big media organisations – take us through your application process.
What I have found is that each opportunity I have been given has always led me to another, so I’m lucky that I started when I was 15 years old. You’ve got to be so determined and willing to put yourself out there. It is so hard to make it in this industry and nothing is going to come easily so I’ve never ever been afraid to ask for help. Although you may feel like you’re ‘annoying’ by continually ringing or emailing people but you’d be surprised how many people or organisations admire your desire for hard work.
I will always begin internship applications with an email, and then a follow up phone call if I haven’t heard back from them. I will always send the email with my updated media CV attached and a cover letter in the same document. My cover letter explains what I am currently doing at uni and what my career goals are. In the actual body of the email, I write a very brief description of what I do and what I’m after and I always explain that I’d be happy to have even one day of work experience if given the opportunity. Then I inform them that my CV is attached and the rest is up to them.
What is the most important thing that you learnt while interning that you didn’t learn from the classroom?
I think my internships and placements have really given me the confidence required to work in the media field. Absolutely nothing is better that on the job experience. I was never taught at uni how to hold my head high, walk into an AFL club with 15 male journalists and interupt the likes of Mark Robinson & Julian de Stoop to make sure Chris Judd answered my question in a press conference. Or how to tactically pick your spot and hold strong as other journalists try to push their way to the front.
My first press conference was outside North Melbourne Football Club and as head coach Brad Scott walked out to get in position, I casually headed towards him with the other journo’s around me. It wasn’t until I was literally blocked out by people standing directly infront of me, or having microphones held infront of my face so I could no longer see anything, that I realised I need to claim by spot in order to be good at these. You’re not going to be seen or heard standing at the back of the pack.
The pressure of deadlines is also something you learn that no book or teacher can. When you need to ‘break’ news and you’re in a situation where there may be up to five to 10 other news outlets there wanting to do the same you have to be accurate and quick.
And lastly, networking. No one can teach you how important networking within the media acutally is. Branching out, meeting people, introducing yourself and getting your name out there is something you have to do.
What’s next for you?
I’ve been continually dedicating my time to interning since a young age so honestly I’m taking my foot off the pedal for the time being after my four months at Cricket Australia over summer and going into my final year of uni. I’m lucky that I have built my resume to what it is today so I’m happy with it for now. In saying that, I have volunteered to write casually for the VFL when needed and am currently looking into the Wallabies v Lions Tour in June this year.
I’d love to be able to gain some on camera experience somewhere enabling me to create a showreel for future job opportunities. This type of work is extremely hard to find but I’m determined to do so.
Sophie shares her advice
I think I’ve mentioned it 10 times already but you have to network. Don’t be afraid to contact people or ask for help. Showing you have the passion and dedication is the best trait you can have to begin with and then doing something to make sure they remember you.
I always say what Emma Quayle told me when I asked her this exact question, “know your stuff.”
There would be nothing worse than being given the opportunity to intern and then having no idea about the sport or what is going on. Research and be prepared to learn and don’t think you’re already an expert. You might love footy and have followed it since you were four years old but be prepared to learn to accept criticism.
You can follow Sophie on Twitter.