Angela Meyer and Kirk Marshall were on another panel, alongside Bel Monypenny (Voiceworks), Alexandra Neill (Good News Week), and Madeleine Hinchy (Belle magazine). Called ‘Crimes Against the Industry’, the panel discussed interning: why do it, how to do it, and where to go for it.
While a writing degree might help ‘speed things up and [help you] learn things quickly’ (Bel), internships help graduates get that first foot in the door of the industry, giving opportunities to network, upskill, or, if you’re an exceptional intern, score a paying job at the organisation. (And if the internship sucks, then at least you’ve narrowed your interests.)
Before applying for an internship, you should keep a few things in mind:
- Bigger is not better. Working for Sony or Macmillan may seem lucrative but you probably won’t learn as much as working for a smaller-scale operation such as Sleepers or Ilura Press. Bigger places are often departmentalised; smaller places usually have just the one workspace; you’ll probably get to see/do more at a smaller place. Goliathesque companies are also more likely to use and abuse their interns: with so many applicants for the position, they usually see an intern as a disposable asset as opposed to an actual person.
- Target your organisation. Do look for a position that you’re interested in. Don’t waste your time learning stuff from people you don’t like, and don’t waste their time either. Also, do your research. Tailor your application to the position and to the person you’re sending it to. Nothing looks more unprofessional than a letter addressing the editor of Voiceworks as ‘Mr Moneypenny’.
- Know what you want. Tell your supervisor what you’re interested in. Not only does it show initiative, it also helps the organisation determine what they need to teach you. However, this does not mean throwing a tantrum at the first ‘plebby’ job that comes your way. Being tactful always helps.