But I see too many young people who don’t do the same. The purpose of an internship is threefold — get real-world work experience, create content for your personal professional portfolio and make connections with people who will be able to help you with your future career aspirations.
The most successful interns are the ones who go beyond the job description listed at the media outlet. They are the ones who are the first ones in the office and the last ones to leave. They are willing to take different assignments and even do weekend work to stand out. They are the team players.
At my internship, I was supposed to listen to the scanner, take phone calls and read AP copy for the writers. I could have done that all summer, but how would that have helped me gain real work experience? How would that have added to my portfolio?
So I did that work, but I also hung out with the reporters and anchors asking if they had any tasks or errands I could run. One of the reporters loved Payday candy bars. I kept then in my desk and had them for her when she needed them. So when she was sent out to do stories, guess who got to tag along and even do stand-ups for my reel?
I’m a great cook and I had a garden that summer that yielded a huge crop of tomatoes and basil. News people always like to eat, especially a homemade meal. I made lasagnas and brought them in. That turned into valuable time — and great materials for my portfolio — with the camera man, the video editor and the assignment editor. I’m also good with trivia, so people were always asking me questions.
That internship turned into a paid part-time job on the desk during my junior year. I eventually decided that television wasn’t my thing, but I don’t regret that internship at all. It helped me learn about the business, got me a nice body of work that helped me land my first job out of school, and served as the foundation for a great network that I’ve built upon all these years later.
So make the best of the internship you’re in now. The investment you make now will pay dividends in your career further down the road.
Do you have career questions? Email me at auntbenet AT gmail DOT com. You may be included in a future column!
Benét J. Wilson is the founder and owner of Aviation Queen LLC, a freelance writing, multimedia and consulting firm. She is an aviation/travel freelance journalist and blogger who has written for publications and blogs including AirwaysNews.com, CrankyFlier.com, ACI-NA Centerlines magazine, Aviation International News, Airport World, the Airline Passenger Experience magazine, and the Runway Girl Network. She currently serves on the board of the Online News Association and is Vice Chair of Education for the National Association of Black Journalists’ Digital Journalism Task Force. She will soon become editor-in-chief of AllDigitocracy.org.