Internships 101: Can I, should I, will I?

With internship season looming, Bronte Gossling gives you some food for thought as you fill out your applications.  

Winter has officially rolled into spring and semester two has morphed from casual Welcome Back Drinks into a fully-fledged assessment hellhole; one that is hard to imagine crawling out of. Alas, the sun will rise tomorrow and spring will turn into summer and the fact that you need work experience won’t change. What better time to gain some industry familiarity than in our five-month break?

First thing’s first, you need to figure out why you want an internship, and if it’s even the right thing for you.

An internship vs. a part-time job – the great debate, but not really.

I must confess, I will champion the internship cause until the day I die. It’s a mutually beneficial agreement – employers get free work, and you learn invaluable skills that will set you on the right path to achieve your desired career goals.

Yet, while internships are a fantastic way to get hands on experience and to learn skills that you can’t when sitting in a lecture theatre, the sad reality of the communications industry is that a lot of them are unpaid. A casual internship may turn into a paid job, but who has the luxury to work for free when the average smashed avo costs $10?

The fact remains – an internship will get you a career. You learn on the job, you network, and when your internship finishes, you have a shiny new line on your resume. Not only that, but it’s a fantastic opportunity to figure out if you actually want to work in the field that you’ve chosen; and if not, when your internship finishes, you’re free to try something completely new.

Although a part-time job ticks the networking and resume-building boxes and then $ome, in order to actually get one, you need experience. Employers are less likely to put an undergraduate student with no experience on their payroll than a post-grad who has the skills needed for the job; they don’t have the time to teach you what you already should know.

How do you gain these skills? With an internship. We’ve come full circle.

Credit: 9Gag

Credit: 9Gag

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Less money, mo’ problems

So how do we get around the money-conundrum? Aside from positive thoughts and lots of wine, you can’t really.             

There are paid internships out there, and the key to getting an interview is applying early. With the end of semester and summer break approaching, the coming few months are an absolute field-day for employers, and a bloodbath for wannabe-employees. Start scouring sites like pedestrian.tv, indeed or even our own UTSoC Careers page on the daily for all the latest and greatest internship opportunities, and then once you know which internships to apply for, go for it.   

The next step is standing out amongst the vast and ever-expanding sea of applicants. Check out Resume Now and My Perfect Resume for some bangin’ CV templates, and then get started on your cover letter. It’s a good idea to have a few general cover letters in your back pocket that you can pull out at the drop of a hat. Yet, keep in mind that a lot of companies ask specific questions, and for my fellow journalism students, a lot of media companies ask you for story pitches. So, you have to be prepared to get creative, and show that you want the job. Don’t be afraid get a little cheeky – if there’s a mistake in the job advertisement, point it out. Make some (tasteful) jokes, throw in some puns. Make them want to hire you.

If all else fails, remember this: any cover letter is better than no cover letter, and both are better than not applying at all.

When it comes to unpaid internships, be on the lookout for ones that are sustainable. The best ones are one or two days a week, for up to three months. You’re there for long enough to get into the swing of things, but you also have enough time for uni work, and paid work.

And if there’s a job available at the company when your internship finishes? Apply. You’ve got the experience.

Still unconvinced? Click here to learn about UTS Careers, and how they can help you.


Author: Bronte Gossling