By Sophie Wood
It is the one piece of advice that was regularly spelt out to me by all my lecturers in every single class – “Before you graduate you need to have experience”. In some degrees, work experience is a necessary component and in other degrees, it is all on your own accord. The earlier you can get some experience, the better!
I was a late bloomer and halfway through my degree before I realised that I needed to gain some valuable experience. I trawled through dozens of employment websites, spoke to everyone I knew and even emailed organisations that I really loved to see if they had anything to offer. Finding the perfect internship was a six-month journey with highs and lows. I feel like I learnt a lot during this time, so let me share some tips with you!
- Apply for organisations that you respect – Let’s be frank and say that the majority of the work experience that you will do at university will be unpaid. If you’re going to work for free then it should be for an organisation that you admire and respect. This could mean finding an organisation that is working for a cause that you care about or an organisation with values that are aligned with your own.
- Gain your desired skill set – A good internship is designed to offer students the specific skills that will be required when they graduate and find fulltime employment. Keep in mind that making coffee is only a skill for those people who want to be baristas. Get the most out of your internship!
- Find a good mentor – The best part of my internship experience was the opportunity to find a supervisor who was dedicated to helping me out. Always remember that an intern should gain the most benefit from the work experience. A great supervisor really helps with this beneficial learning experience.
- Networking – It isn’t what you know but who you know! I’m still a little bit skeptical about this statement but I’m going to roll with it because it helps support my statement. Networking is the best opportunity to meet people with similar interests to you. If you’re able develop a good relationship with these networks then you never know the opportunities that can arise.
- Know your rights – Unpaid work experience and internships are a controversial issue, however the best thing for you to do is to stay informed! As a general rule, interns should not be taking on the role of a general employee and should be gaining the most benefit from the arrangement. For more information, please see the Fair Work Ombudsman website (hyperlink: http://www.fairwork.gov.au/pay/unpaid-work/work-experience-and-internships).
I hope you found these handy hints useful and wish you the best of luck in your hunt for the perfect internship! Finding good work experience can really help your learning experience, build your confidence and open some doors to the future.
Bio: Sophie is a third year marketing and journalism student studying at Griffith University in the Gold Coast. She is currently an intern at Milaana where she manages their social media strategy and writes content for their blog. Sophie is passionate about story-telling, equality and working with young people to reach their full potential.