Tuesday 12 March 2019

Is an Internship for You?

By Lisa Smalley

A degree may be proof of your academic ability, but vocational experience is a completely different matter. Unfortunately for most creatives, this is the balance they must achieve when trying to enter into their chosen career. Of course there are graduate placements, but these are extremely competitive in the creative industry, and often the best course of action is to take on an internship to get that all-important experience to support your C.V.

Show me the goods
Trying to gain experience in my chosen career in copywriting has been like trying to squeeze into my pre-Christmas jeans: a feat that even the most talented of professionals would find impossible. Most companies want to see published work, and this is the area where I have struggled most. So when the opportunity to intern with a creative agency was offered on the Creative Writing at Leicester University Facebook page, I leapt on it with both feet and sickening enthusiasm. 

Show me the money!
My internship was unpaid, and I weighed this option against the experience I would be gaining in an active agency. Experience, as it turned out, was my main priority. Working in the office with other creatives, including photographers and graphic designers, was an inspiring experience. I have never been so motivated in my writing - being in an environment charged with that much creative energy rubbed off on me and I learnt a lot from my colleagues there. 

What did you gain?
I have come away with regular paid work, which has padded my portfolio nicely. The only downside is that trying to publish under my own name has proved challenging. Many companies want 'white ticket' writing, where their own names will appear as the author. The agency tried to help with this, publishing a couple of my blogs on their own website, and even endorsing my skills and providing a recommendation on Linkedin. They gave me training in digital marketing and offered access to courses for social media marketing. 

This has been a step in the right direction and one that I can build on. Based on this, here are my best bits of advice for anyone considering an internship: 
  • Be clear on your timeline.  How much time can you realistically afford to dedicate to the company?
  • Be clear with your expectations.  For the work you provide, what experience will the company give in return and is it worth your time?  Will it translate onto your CV?
  • Think about your portfolio.  Look at jobs in your field of interest and note down what kind of experience they're asking for.  Can you achieve some of these points in the internship?
I wish you the best of luck, and I look forward to seeing more creatives out there in the future.

About the author
Lisa Smalley is an MA English student, and an aspiring copywriter. 

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