By Laura Tenison
People tend to have mixed views on student internships, falling into one of two categories. Firstly, great opportunities that provide students with a important ‘foot in the door’, preparing them for real world. And secondly, an opportunity for businesses to exploit young ones by sending them on coffee runs and mugging them of their time and effort.
It’s not hard to go either way with today’s media hype about the pros and cons. Before I started my internship, I thought the typical PR internship would be like how they portrayed it on TV show “The Hills”, spending their days sorting through clothes and gossiping about boys. And boy was I wrong (…phew!).
But unfortunately, it’s a bit of a lucky dip. Out of the hundreds of internships that are available today, there will still be quite a few interns, especially agency interns that were hired simply to fetch the coffee and take out the trash – or, so I’ve heard.
So to give you a further insight into the perks of being an intern, here’s my experience.
My third and final year at uni was shortly creeping up and I was enrolled in an internship subject that required me to complete 150 hours as an intern. At first, I thought it was pretty stupid – paying to attend a subject for an internship that you most likely won’t be paid for. But little did I know, it would be the most valuable experience throughout my whole time at uni.
You’ve got to hunt if you want a good agency intern experience
So on my hunt to find the “perfect” agency internship, I searched and searched and finally applied for some positions that seemed right up my alley. Shortly after, I received an email back from the lovely Kristin Austin arranging an interview. After meeting with Kristin, I had landed my first real marketing and PR (also known as marcoms) agency internship – a daunting thought for a young and some-what ‘in-experienced’ student.
Prior to commencing as an agency intern, I had no clue what to expect as it was an entirely new experience for me. Day one had arrived and like starting any new job, the nerves had struck. You begin to doubt yourself and imagine running back the other way (well… I did). But I’m extremely pleased to say, day one was great. Kristin was welcoming and kind, talking me through every task. So after my first day at the desk, I instantly knew this would be a great opportunity to further my learning experience and future career.
I have now been at Kristin Austin Marketing and Communication for more than 6 months and I have appreciated every minute of it. Working in a small agency has built my knowledge across a diverse range of industries and developed my skills in researching, writing (blog, newsletter, website), social media, marketing (promotions, campaigns, research) and PR (media releases, pitches).
Being an agency intern has created a strong foundation for my career and I’ve gained great experience in my chosen industry.
But most of all, the most beneficial part of my experience as an intern has been the introduction into the real world. Kristin has treated and respected me as a real employee, which has greatly developed my work and personality skills. I am now motivated to make the most of what’s left at uni and to then get started on my career.
Without this internship, I would most likely still be deciding whether or not this career was right for me (where most students find themselves at some point of their degree). I’m now more confident and enthusiastic about entering the workplace and starting my career as I’ve had already had a great first experience.
My advice for all you students, find yourself a great internship with a great mentor. Kristin has been an exceptional teacher as her industry experience has given me great knowledge and skills. If you find yourself as an intern who is constantly going on coffee runs or who is stationed at the photocopier, maybe think about looking for another internship as there’s no point in spending your time getting taken for granted (although you’re probably still gaining some skills by osmosis – although you might not be aware of it yet).
Once you’ve landed the right internship, you’ll get an instant shot of confidence, motivation and you might even pick up coffee addiction on the way (as I soon picked up that coffee is a essential aspect of the ‘professional’ lifestyle).
And even though most internships are unpaid, the experience that you will receive is priceless. Think of it as an investment for your education and career – because at the end of the day, experience is what your future employers will be looking for.
Kristin Austin Marketing Communication & Training offers two internships for 3rd year marketing or PR students per semester (unless an existing intern decides they want to stay on – and some do). If you think you’ve got what it takes to be one of our interns, drop us a note with your CV explaining why you’re the one.
PS: please note, CVs without cover notes and explanations, don’t get read.