A students view on interning
I'm here writing as a scorned intern - a media slave if you will. Blinded by the CV enhancing lights, glamorous networking and freebie overload, it's a dream that many of us Journalism students have wished our degree's away upon - '2 more years and i'll be sinking lunchtime cocktails in Chelsea and taking business trips to the Alps'. Well, I'm not the first to say it and I certainly won't be the last, but lets just get real shall we? Lets enjoy our student loans whilst we've got the chance because soon enough we'll be typing on our Mac's with office-tea stained fingers and memorising the prime time reductions of our local Morrisons' before we can scream 'Rent'.
Having just endured a placement at a popular sports magazine, I think I'm well within my rights to suggest that forgetting writing and replacing it with tea making is the only way to prepare yourself for your pending fate - or in my case, forget any type of journalism and work on becoming an office packer/mover extraordinaire - because whilst you may think that you're entering into a journey full of learning and self development in your chosen field - you're really slumming it until someone decides to pass off a boring web article. I know I sound bitter, I'm not even half sure where this anger has come from. Who are you? Please insert your name into the top of the page and return my refreshing optimism immediately.
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Yet please forgive me as I warm to my theme, its certainly a difficult one to overlook - but how secure is an internship anyway? How is any fresh-out-of-uni student meant to know that whilst they might have been promised the hope of a job at the end, its written in stone? There's certainly no contract - 'here, slave like a workhorse for a year and then we'll absolutely hire you with a good salary, instead of tossing you at the mounting 'intern pile' and contracting in your well written replacement'.
Now I'm not suggesting that an internship isn't a good idea; it certainly seems to be the only way to forgo any worthwhile media career in the future and is the mantra that everybody seems to be chanting. No I'm not attempting to steer all Journo students into some sort of work experience boycott - I'm simply just stating for those that haven't already had the pleasure of enduring one, nine times out of ten, what it reads on the tin isn't necessarily what's going to be inhabiting inside, so be prepared.
Its not all doom and gloom however -- I've heard my fair share of success stories nestled among the horror -- yes examples don't crowd the memory, but reassuringly there are some out there. A UCL graduate I've known successfully managed a hat-trick of internships at the Times, Guardian and Elle, with the latter offering her dream job of a fashion editors assistant. She did end up being backstabbed out of a promotion when she practically had pen to paper, but alas their aren't enough numbers in my word count for that story.
Thus bringing me to my next point, getting there in the first place. The city-bred among us seem to be more illustrious at bagging the golden ones - with many having a deep enough Daddies pocket to lie in whilst stating, "I'm NOT interning at a tabloid, such a sell-out" or, "I would not be seen working at that rag". Well simply, beggars can't be choosers. So for those of us that don't know a person that knows a person that has a contact, I'd apply for anything you can - as whilst Cat and Dog magazine might not seem like a glamorous option at the time, I can't imagine seeing in your 3 years of employment at The Co-Op is a better choice.
Although I realise I'm one herbal remedy away from a rant, these really are all valid points - home truths from one student to another. A career in Journalism reeks of self spam marketing and shameful networking, and unless you've inherited an impressive contact list aside a lucky touch, you have to buckle up and barrel through - with no emotions made apparent. Being prevalent is essential and, take it from me, the stronger the mentality the more you'll gain professionally. I learnt the hard way, with a disappointing placement in my once upon a time ideal situation - yet a few hidden tantrums and 6 paper cuts later, I feel much more certain about where I'm headed in life, and this time its without a Starbucks order.