After my two weeks interning at the Hawke’s Bay Today and now interning at The New Zealand Herald for their Bite magazine, I feel I am now qualified enough to share some of my tips to getting an internship and what to do once you have it.
Getting the internship
Email out your CV to places you would like to work
Let them know you are looking for some work experience and what you are wanting to gain from that experience, why you would like to intern there. What experience you have, if any. Attach some of your work too so they can see what you have written, can draw, design etc.
Being flexible is key, if you are studying then you may find this hard to fit an internship around your already busy class timetable. Let them know what days you are available.
Make sure you are emailing the right person. An editor/director/owner of the company is probably best as they’ll be making the decision to take you on. Unless it’s a publication where you want to work specifically in the fashion section for example. Then it may be best to email the fashion editor of the magazine, and if they like you and have the work for you to do, they can talk to their editor.
Go to events and network
If you see an event come up that you think will have people from your desired industry, head along and go to the stalls of those people and have a chat to them. Let them know you would be keen to do some interning if anything came up and get their business card. For example, I went to the Auckland Food Show where I knew food and lifestyle magazines would have stalls and went and chatted to the team there. This turned into my internship with Bite magazine.
FOLLOW UP!!! After the event, go home and email them, saying you enjoyed the conversation you had and thank them for their time. This keeps you in their head, as shows and events can be very busy and they can sometimes forget that you came to speak to them. You can even attach your CV so they have it on file.
Even if nothing comes of it , at least you made yourself known to them and later on down the track you could email them again and see if they have space for an intern now. This will remind them that you had spoken to them before and prove how keen you are.
Now you have the internship…
1. Ask for help
If you don’t know what something is, don’t be afraid to ask. They will use industry terms and forget that you don’t know what that is. If you don’t know how to do something, ask. You can’t get better if you don’t get help and you’ll look silly if you go away and still haven’t done the task after an hour, simply because you were too afraid to ask how or what.
2. Ask to tag along
Are they going to a press conference? A photo shoot? An interview? Ask if you can go with them. The worst they will say is no and if they say yes, GO YOU! You will get to experience something you might not have had you not asked. It also shows that you are keen to learn and are being proactive. They might then ask you to come along the next time too!
3. Go out of your comfort zone
This one seems scary, but trust me, you don’t improve or grow as a person if you don’t push yourself. Hate interviewing people on the phone? Well do it once and you’ll see it isn’t as bad as you think. Would rather not ask that lady on the street for a photo? The more you do it, the more it becomes a part of your comfort zone and you won’t even think twice about doing it.
4. Be willing to do anything
Be up for anything that’s thrown your way or asked of you. Even if you think it’s the dumbest, most boring thing you will have to do. Even the staff who’ve been in the industry for years have to do things that aren’t so fun and glamorous sometimes. But saying no, they may not ask you again to do other jobs. Also, at most internships, it’s unpaid so you can be let go at anytime if they think you aren’t giving them any help. As bad as it is, they usually get an intern in the first place to help them out, and if you aren’t helping, well consider yourself gone. You probably wont get the best reference from them either. In saying this, don’t say yes if you have too much on your plate already, this will not end well for either party. Just explain your current workload and they can work something around this.
5. Talk to others in the office
Networking with these people is a good idea because one day they could leave said company and need someone to fill a role at their new company. Or, they might desperately need someone to fill in for a sick staff member at a photo shoot, need a photo for a story, need a bright idea for a campaign and they could come see you. You then get to put your name on some great work in a place you might not have otherwise and expand your work experience for your CV and portfolio. Connecting with them on LinkedIn is a good idea too.
Interning is generally unpaid as I said before so if you feel as though you are working crazy long hours constantly or you think you’re being used, then it’s ok to second guess the internship. Sure, it’s precious work experience you need but at the end of the day, if you’re not enjoying it and the work load seems unfairly too much, then it’s best to move on. Let’s face it, you’re not getting paid!
If you’ve been interning for a long time and it doesn’t seem to be progressing anywhere then maybe that too is a sign to move on. Ask your editor/boss if there’s opportunity to move ahead in the company and keep your ears out for jobs going. However, after this discussion, if there is to be no joy, get a reference and part ways. With the experience you now have, you should be able to apply for other jobs and hopefully get a paid one!
Hopefully these tips have helped you when looking for that all-important internship. I want to hear your tips, because we can all learn from each other so comment away.