My expectations before beginning my first week of work experience were that I would be rushing around the office attending to coffee requests while hurriedly completing a list of tasks for my busy supervisor. The reality was quite different.
Upon arrival I was given one routine task and then left to my own devices. One of the problems I faced was battling the boredom during long stretches where I had very little to do.
As an intern there may not be specific jobs set out for you and it can be easy to feel like a burden to the journalists you are working with. I was extremely grateful to have been provided the opportunity to gain some real world experience. However, my focus soon became balancing how often I could politely nudge my supervisor to see if she had anything for me to do, without irritating her.
Here are a few tips that may help you make use of your time and hopefully elevate your status from a burden to a memorable, Superstar Intern.
While you may not really be on camera, the reporters sitting fixated at their desk who seem to be unaware of your presence are likely able to see you grumpily slouching in the corner.
Smiling, chatting to people around the office and appearing approachable will help you make friends, possible future mentors and earn those important invitations to lunch…
At my first placement I happened to be working there at the same time as a friend.
We made plans to meet for lunch and when my supervisor asked if I wanted to join her, I politely declined. Eventually she stopped offering.
I learnt my lesson the hard way and eagerly said yes to any future lunch invitations. Since then, during lunch meetings I’ve had the chance to chat with great reporters who proved to be goldmines for advice.
3. Demonstrate interest
One way to show passion for journalism is to demonstrate that you’re serious about obtaining a job in that area.
During my week with the Press Association I spent the week shadowing reporters.
One of the only ways I could show potential was through my eagerness to ask questions and provide help, even if it was only holding a microphone for a statement.
Work experience is all about making those vital contacts for the future.
During my placement, several reporters mentioned a school pupil who had some amazing credentials. Her example shows that it can be simple things such as interesting aspects of your CV that make you memorable.
The student mentioned winning a poetry competition in her application and despite the fact that the reporters found her poetry eccentric, they remembered her long afterwards.
Instead of sitting idly at a computer when you have no assigned tasks, read articles online, brainstorm ideas for pitches or search for stories elsewhere.
Beware of looking too busy though, you don’t want your supervisor to think you don’t need to disturbed!
This is the hard one. You are in a serious place of work where everyone is busy and yet it is important that you stand your ground and occasionally remind your supervisor of your presence.
Use whatever pushy journalistic skills you have, but be mindful of deadlines and moments when your supervisor may not want to be disturbed, in the middle of a phone call interview is one example!
Image by e-lame on Flickr, used under Creative Commons licence