The other day this article came up on my Twitter feed.
It's talking about internships, mainly in journalism, and the idea of unpaid internships, something I'm very familiar with. It discusses what you get out of working for free, and the difference between being offered an opportunity and being taken advantage of.
PS. if you're getting executives coffee all day for free, they're taking advantage of you.
This summer I'm working (for free) at MHM publishing. They produce both Canadian Skies magazine, and Vertical magazine. Skies is planes, and Vertical is helicopters... clearly something I have no experience in.
So why would I want to work for them for free?
I'm a communications student. I didn't enter a field that will have me rolling in cash the second I graduate. I willingly, and eagerly, chose a field that is extremely competitive. There is always going to be someone that wrote a more compelling article than me, or designed a better looking ad than me, or wrote a catchier news release than me. But this is what I chose. I chose to be a part of an industry that always wants more from you.
ask better interview questions!
pay more attention to your grammar!
network, network, network!
be more cutting edge!
and more than anything..
HAVE MORE EXPERIENCE
No one wants to hire someone that doesn't have experience. But without experience you can't get the job to gain experience. It's impossible to win. Unless in many cases you are willing to work for free.
A guy from the article I posted at the beginning of this post says
“The main thing that you want to get back is opportunity and training,”
he said. “Opportunity means the chance to write, edit, take pictures or
make videos; a chance to do meaningful work. Training means that you
don’t just sit in your apartment and send things off to somebody who
never says anything to you. That’s not training, that’s them taking your
work for free and using it.”
And that's what I'm getting from my internship. Opportunity and training.
If I wanted to get a good paying job with no experience right out of school I would have got a degree in nursing, or business, or anything to do with oil. Or maybe I would have taken a trade like electrician, or mechanic. But this is communications. It's just the reality of the business.
My resume consists of "student" and "waitress" right now. I can't get a job in communications with that. I need this opportunity and training. I need to beef up my resume.
Vertical and Canadian Skies weren't hiring when I contacted them. They weren't looking for anyone, I went to them. I asked them for a job so that I can have something more than "wing night expert" to show for my summer. After only a week, the opportunities I've had are things that I can never get out of formal education.
I look at my internship as if I'm taking a really great summer course for free.
On day #1 they sat me down and got me straight to work. I've been editing news releases into articles to put on their websites. I've written two articles that have already been published online.
And I'm learning things and gaining experience that I couldn't get anywhere else. They can't teach me in school what to do when I'm writing an article and I've called every major airport across the country and no one will give me a comment. They can give me a lesson on it, but they can't actually put me in that situation. All my work gets edited by one or two people. I get sent all the revisions and told why they were made, so I can improve.
I am so appreciative that MHM publishing gave me the opportunity to work for them for free. It's already one of the best educational experiences I've had since entering the industry. I can feel confident looking for jobs when I graduate next year knowing I have this extra bit of education under my belt that some of my competitors don't have.
I sincerely congratulate any my classmates that are doing paid internships this summer, but I'm happy to just be learning and getting published. The money will come eventually. Just have to pay my dues.