06 Nov Notes from an Intern: Taking the plunge
I graduated this year and had long-before decided on a move to London; that’s where a lot of my friends were going to be and where an apparent 40% of graduate jobs are to be found. When I finally moved here it was without a job and I found myself living in a rather costly flat with just enough money to get by for a month, and with seemingly no prospects in the offing it is easy to get very scared very quickly. For a graduate there is the added pressure of finding a job that befits your very expensive and gruelling education, whilst also trying to find something you actually enjoy and with the prospect of promotion. If, like me, you made the mistake of not doing an internship or any other professional work experience whilst at University, you quickly realise that to start a career you need to show some relevant experience to demonstrate why you should get the job.
When looking for internships I was lucky, after applying for a couple I was offered one here at RONIN. From the offset I have been involved in writing web copy for clients and press releases, researching client industries, as well as learning about social media tools. It’s refreshing that the client list here seems varied to the extent that last week I was looking at supply chains and IT software and this week beginning a campaign for a local jazz musician. I’d always thought an internship was about making coffee and other such errands, only gradually learning things without actually being exposed to the good stuff. But I’m starting to gain a good insight into how the industry works already which I didn’t expect to be able to say so soon.
That’s why I was surprised to discover such a lively debate surrounding internships. I found it quite surprising how there seems to be such an issue over the fact that interns are paid little or no money for the work they do. Whilst I can empathise with the little money interns get paid and recognise not all interns have the same experience I have had, everyone I know who has a PR/marketing or other graduate job has done some form of work experience prior to getting it. Employers will tell you that if they weren’t allowed to be flexible in the way they hand out experience, they’d be getting plenty more people who weren’t interested in PR/ marketing coming through the door, interested more in short term employment than anything else. The intern system lets employers know that every candidate who comes for an interview really wants it, that they are willing to sacrifice their comfort and spending power and that they are thinking long term. Personally it makes me feel like I want to succeed even more when I’ve been given a taste of some interesting work for pretty much the first time in my life.
The only strange thing I have found is, being so used to jobs that don’t give you the chance to work creatively or use your own initiative; it can feel quite strange to be briefed on a task and then just go ahead and do it! All of a sudden you don’t have an overbearing supervisor on your back, even though your work is more challenging. I have found this really liberating and the best thing is that the job isn’t the same every day: you turn up and do your work and then move onto something completely unique. I have always thought that’s the type of job I wanted one day but to be honest I was beginning to think they didn’t exist!
by Martin Robinson