I’ve always heard a lot of exploitative media internship stories where interns are hired for mindless admin tasks while sitting in the background. I was prepared to be in the same position as I thought that’s what I needed to experience before I was fit for better roles but working at Blackie proved me wrong.
From the beginning, it never felt like I was ‘just an intern’, I felt like I was part of the team. I managed tasks from beginning to the end and was able to see the direct results of my actions. I saw that my contribution mattered and my active participation in the team motivated me to work hard to add value for our clients and the company. My supervisors provided constructive feedback for my work and consistently evaluated my progress. They were always open to questions so not only was I learning about the industry, but also about myself and my style of working.
After interning for six months, I thought I’d share some advice for other students on what I did to get the most out of my opportunity.
1. Ask Questions
Internships are about learning and how most people learn is by asking questions! Your supervisors know you’re an intern and that you don’t know everything in the industry so they expect questions from you. I remember on my first day, I was bombarded with so much jargon, industry abbreviations and client-specific knowledge that I basically spent that day asking “What did you mean when you said so and so”. Asking questions not only help you understand your role but it also shows your supervisor that you’re eager to learn and thinking critically about your job (not just mindlessly saying yes).
It’s also important to ask questions early on to avoid any confusion later down the track. Especially when it comes to client work, understanding the full task before sending any emails can save yourself from embarrassment by asking for clarification from the beginning.
Supervisors will assign a task they already know how to do and sometimes forget that you’re just starting out, so it’ll be up to you to ask for help when you need it.
2. Take notes
I don’t have the greatest memory in the world, so I always had an open notebook and pen on my desk, ready to jot down any notes or reminders. Your supervisors can give you a variety of ongoing, simultaneous tasks, making it easy to forget details and instructions if you just relied on your memory. Even if you think you can remember it, chances are you’re probably missing something.
I always made it a habit to write down every task I had and make regular status updates. Especially when you’re juggling with multiple clients, it’s easy to forget which journalist was contacted for which client’s pitch and when you had to follow up next. Taking notes and making reminders will help you make sure you’re on top of your work.
At the conclusion of my internship, it was useful to flip back in my notebook to see how far I came and how much I accomplished during the six months. It helped me with recounting the new skills I acquired, and I could reflect on my goals for my personal development.
3. Ask for feedback
If it’s not already part of the internship program at the company, regular meetings with your coordinator is beneficial for your professional growth. At Blackie, I had monthly meetings with my supervisor who asked me how I was going, what I wanted to focus on and what else I needed help with. The meetings were helpful because I received overall feedback on my performance, was given the chance to improve areas I was lacking in and I could ask to try a new task. It was great that it was already part of the program at Blackie but if it’s not at your next internship, remember to ask for it with your supervisor.
Apart from monthly meetings, I also regularly asked for feedback on pieces and pitches I developed. This provided me with a cycle of learning and so I could improve upon each delivery rather than wait around for someone to correct me. It was not only beneficial for myself and my development in the industry, but I also provided my supervisors with improved and high-quality work, saving them overall time and effort when double- checking.
An internship is challenging but don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the experience! No one wants a grouchy employee on the team so crack a few jokes and have a laugh. An office is better when it’s smiles all around, plus the long days will go faster. Your employees will like you more and smiling will make you feel better when things are rough. Keep your attitude positive and you’ll learn more.
Internships are a fantastic way to test out what you’d like and to learn more about yourself. I’m grateful for the team at Blackie McDonald to have taken their time and effort to invest in my professional development and showed me the ropes with B2B technology PR. I would highly recommend any students to intern there!
If you know anyone who is applying for internships or anyone who may be interested in this article in your network, please share this around! Feel free to message me as well if you have any questions.