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.


Intern Profile: Erin Doyle

Erin Doyle, 22, loves to travel and see live music. She’s already backpacked her way around Europe for three months, and has seen many live music acts varying in genre from Pink, rapper The Game and Aussie band, Little Red.

Erin’s ultimate goal and dream job is to become a magazine editor. But ideally, Erin would love to be a features, lifestyle or entertainment writer or editor.

She is expecting to graduate at the end of this year with a Bachelor of Communications and Media (Journalism) from the University of Wollongong.

Since September last year, Erin has been interning at Cosmopolitan magazine one day a week. Coming from Wollongong, Erin has to travel an hour and a half each way just to get to her internship in Sydney.

Cosmopolitan magazine is what some women would describe as the ‘bible’ and, is the world’s biggest selling magazine. There is no doubt that Erin’s experience and, current internship with Cosmopolitan will set her apart from other graduates applying for publishing positions.

It was during high school that Erin first decided she wanted to work in magazines. After doing some research, Erin discovered that “the majority of people who had my dream job started off through doing work experience.”

As a way to get her foot in the door, Erin applied to many publications in her first year at university. She ended up doing work experience with Cosmopolitan and Girlfriend magazines.

Doing a week’s work experience at Cosmopolitan must have been a dream come true, as Erin has been reading the magazine since she was 15 years old.

After finishing her work experience with Cosmopolitan and Girlfriend magazines, confirmed Erin’s belief that she was on the right career path. “If one industry could be the perfect fit for a person…this one is for me.” Erin kept in touch with Cosmopolitan and was invited back to do further work experience with the magazine.

Although Erin didn’t know anyone in the industry initially, she says that she wouldn’t have known about her current internship with Cosmopolitan, if it weren’t for her continued work experience at the magazine. Erin says that she is,

“Proof that getting an internship without initially knowing someone can be done…networking is crucial when trying to pursue a career in this industry and work experience [or] internships is a great way of meeting people and building contacts.”

Eventually, one of the Cosmopolitan interns left and Erin put her hand up for the role. She says landing her intern position was a “combination of hard work and good timing…without being there, I never would have known about the vacancy.”

Erin knows how lucky she is to be interning with Cosmopolitan, because “it’s also part of ACP – Australia’s biggest publishing company so it’s a great way to network and find out about jobs at other mags in the same company before anyone else.”

Now interning one day a week at Cosmopolitan, Erin says her jobs can vary each week. The tasks she has been asked to do include, “transcribing interviews, typing, doing research for articles, hitting the streets to conduct vox pops, thinking up questions for upcoming interviews and the occasional coffee run.”

Erin has also been asked to write articles for the magazine, one of which was published in the recent August issue. She has also been apart of a photo shoot, covered Editorial Co-ordinator, Gyan Yankovich’s desk when she’s away and has helped beauty editor, Leigh Campbell clean out the beauty cupboard. After which, Erin was given a bag of beauty goodies, one of the many perks of working at a magazine!

Erin explains that Cosmopolitan is a amazing and friendly environment to work in, nothing like The Devil Wears Prada but that the women working at Cosmopolitan work extremely hard.  “I get to be around some pretty talented women who I’ve learnt quite a few skills from” she says.

All of Erin’s experience at Cosmopolitan and Girlfriend magazines will definitely be an advantage after she graduates from university and applies for publishing jobs.

Erin has been able to put what she’s learnt at university into practice, while at the same time she is close to her dream job of working for a magazine.

Her passion and enthusiasm has gotten Erin to where she is today.

It really proves to every student out there, that with persistence and a willingness to show that you want to learn and help out more than once, you will eventually be rewarded for your efforts.

I can only imagine the feeling Erin had when she saw her name printed at the end of an article that she wrote published in Cosmopolitan magazine.

Erin’s advice for students wanting to apply for work experience in magazines:

“I definitely recommend trying to get as much as work experience as possible and ideally an internship. You learn so much that they don’t teach you at university, make invaluable contacts and it puts you so far ahead of your peers when competing against them for jobs in the future. Start as early as possible and don’t be afraid to apply to as many places as possible. Competition for internships (especially in magazines) is strong and rejection is inevitable but don’t let that get you down. Just keep knocking on doors and eventually someone will open it. Then do whatever it takes once you’re there to prove yourself.”

You can read Erin’s article in the August issue of Cosmopolitan by clicking on this link: Erin Cosmo page – co0811YOUtwitter[1]

Look out for Erin’s article in the November issue of Cosmopolitan (it will be her first paid article).

You can follow Erin on Twitter here and you can also follow the Twitter account for Cosmopolitan Australia here.