It’s the tale of the intern, the coffee-runner and unpaid worker. Internships are meant to give you a real-life experience of the career of your dreams, putting the skills you learnt at uni into practise. Free labour at its’ finest. Internships will either boost your career aspirations or be a slam in the face, disappointment. I am currently undertaking a journalism internship and here’s my take:
For a 9am breakfast show, your alarm is set for 5am. You are to be in the office, no later than 8am. As an intern everybody else is there before you. Commuting to the city is about 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the trains you are taking. With hair, makeup and outfit choices, an early morning wakeup call is crucial if you don’t want to be late. You’ll walk into your office booth with your large coffee in one hand and in the other a handbag filled with snacks to get you through the day. While you do the round of “good mornings” and “how’s your morning been,” you’ve turned on the computer, because frankly, despite working in a well-established and built industry, computer start-ups are still quite long.
This should take you to 8:15. Once your computer is up and running, the first thing you open is your mailbox. You would have received the run-down of the day’s programme. Despite not knowing exactly what every detail translates to, you read it anyway to pass the time. After a few days, you get a fair idea of how to decipher the run-down (thanks to Google and past uni assessments).
The art of morning shows is that it won’t take you late into the evening, which is a bonus. When it hits midday, you only have two or three hours left. You’re not getting paid, nor do people get paid by the hour here, but that seems a fitting time to leave the office. I mean, what else is there to do?
Unfortunately, I don’t get that load. Instead, I’m behind my screen tapping away the keys and writing this blog post, waiting for the green light to make my way home. I’ve been told to put myself out there but being a natural introvert, sometimes stepping out of my shell becomes lost in my thoughts and disperses into nothingness. I often wondered if I annoy my colleagues or if there are any tasks I must do, with the hope and aim, that there is. They’re also, tapping furiously at their desks, on their part though; they’re doing work.
In the Newsroom unit, you’re put on the spot, you pitch ideas and they get approved or rejected. You move forward with it or throw it in the trash. None of that happens here. Stories are already approved before I know anything about it, we don’t have an ideas meeting, we don’t have a board of pitches or take turns voicing those ideas. Instead, people email. People just have casual conversations with producers and suddenly, a story has come around from a coffee runner – something like that.
You take out what you put in and unfortunately, I haven’t put in as much as I would have liked. I must remind myself that I am one of many students hoping to land myself a job in this industry. And today, a fellow intern just outshone me. Not that there was a definite competition in her eyes (in fact, she doesn’t even know I exist), but there is. I’m competing against hundreds and hundreds of interns who walk in and out of these doors every day, journalism and communication students who are all vying for a job in this industry. People who want to make their mark in the news industry, starting from the bottom and working their way up. We all want it but so few get it.
I want to chase up people, update Twitter followers on what goes on, be involved in the talkback segments taking calls, or even editing small packages, writing articles and briefs, I want to be the voice of those who otherwise, don’t. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done quite a bit on those mentioned, but after a while, you want to explore the field, take on challenges and despite the small embarrassment of getting things wrong, it’s all a learning experience.
I’ve managed to put myself in the “slam in the face, disappointment” end of this internship, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t enjoyed it. I’ve become inspired to venture out in the field, try new avenues of journalism, and there’s so much to choose from, ranging from broadcast, print and radio journalism, regional, local, and national news. I’ve met amazing people, who are brilliant in their field and I have in no doubt in my mind, that they did help me while I’ve been here.
One bad apple does not spoil the bunch, that’s for sure. I mean, just because my experience wasn’t as life-changing as I had hoped, it doesn’t mean that I’m changing my career path. I still intend to work hard and find my place, but I’ll be trialling and making errors hoping for a tick along the way.