7 Ways for Interns to Succeed Working with the Mediaby Josephine J [Writing Contest 2014 ★ Winner ★]
I've been a journalist with a mainstream English daily for more than three years and I've encountered my fair share of interns. I was even an intern myself too at the same newspaper organisation several years ago, so I know what it's like to be the clueless newbie.
As a senior colleague, I had a great experience working with and teaching some of the interns the ropes of being a good journalist. I was glad to share my knowledge with those who were willing to learn and help them when they were in a tight spot. At times, I found myself learning new things from the interns as well.
Take note that whether it's a newspaper, online news portal or a TV news station that you are attached to, the following tips generally apply to all. Whether it's your first or second time interning with a media company, rest assured that you would find this almost comprehensive guide a useful one towards a media internship success of sorts.
1. Work hard, work smart, work fast
This is of course, the kind of advice that has been ingrained in us in order to achieve what we want in life. But seriously, by working hard and working smart, you could go places and reap the benefits of what you sow. Even if it is just an internship and you are probably poorly paid, make use of this opportunity to do your best and show your bosses what you've got.
Journalists do not work the fixed number of hours, which is from 9 to 5. Assignments can begin as early as 5am and end as late as after midnight. Crime reporters are practically on call 24/7 and they would have to rush to the crime scene in the wee hours of the morning. Interns are normally spared from working during these bizarre hours but if you love what you do and want to prosper in the press line, know what you are in for.
2. Be willing to learn
It is common knowledge that the more you know, the further you will go. You may think you know everything but the harsh truth is no one does.
Listen and learn when your senior colleague is teaching you something new or even rebuking you for an error in your news story. Any type of error in a news story is not to be taken lightly as it would cause unnecessary consequences that could affect the newspaper, the reporter and the people involved in the story (if any).
3. Ask questions
This goes hand in hand with learning new things. Remember to always ask at the earliest moment possible on what you want to know. You might find yourself in a sticky situation because you didn't know what to do and you smack yourself in the head because you didn't ask.
Prepare your list of work-related questions and ask a friendly senior colleague to answer them for you. Approach them when they don't seem busy and they will happily help you out with what you need to know. If you like, you can also approach the news editors for advice. They'd be happy to know that you are willing to learn more about your work surroundings and would remember you better.
4. Be humble
Again, if you think you know everything or that your language skills are better than others, there's no need to be stuck up about it. No one likes an arrogant person, so get off your high horse. You will be more likeable when you are down-to-earth and have a friendly personality. Office gossip runs high especially in a media organisation. So if an intern sticks out like a sore thumb, there's no need to guess who would be among the main topics of the conversations.
Speaking of gossip, keep out of office politics. Try not to engage in gossip of your senior colleagues or of your fellow intern colleagues. Stay neutral and occupy yourself with work.
5. Have common sense
This is a bit tricky. What one might regard as normal might seem peculiar to another. Be aware of how you conduct yourself when placed in various kinds of situations. For example, if you are to cover court proceedings, try not to speak loudly about the accused when his or her family members are nearby. The accused may be on trial for an alleged offence but it's downright disrespectful to be speaking ill of him/her in the presence of their family members or relatives.
Also, don't whine. Nobody likes a whiner either.
6. Be thick-skinned
In many movies, news reporters are mostly portrayed in a negative light. They seem pushy, persistent and annoying. Don't be surprised but in the real press line, it's all so true. A reporter has the responsibility to gather as many facts as possible, whether it's on their own accord or it's an order from the editor. When you find yourself stalking a person for a comment or to take a photograph, you will most likely be subjected to verbal abuse from them or their friends and supporters. Whatever it is, take it in stride because it is after all your job.
Another time to be thick-skinned is if your superiors and editors, for any reason, reprimand you. Some of them may be ruthless in their words but all they want is for you to learn and ensure that you don't repeat your mistake. Editors are busy people; so don't take it to heart if they only seem to bark orders at you. Remember that they are also human and can be the nicest people around once you get to know them better.
7. Have patience and persevere
If you are new to the workings of the press line, it may initially seem daunting but try not to feel overwhelmed. Take it all in at your own time because you will indeed learn something new every day and you will improve as time goes by.
Your internship stint is possibly one of the most important phases of your life, so try not to waste this opportunity to learn and improve yourself as a person. Even if along the way, you don't feel that you are suited to be a journalist, give your best nevertheless. Your supervisor, who is most probably the news editor, will still grade your performance and they will know how hard you have worked.
Here's to hoping that you have benefited from the seven tips provided for you to succeed as an intern with a media organisation.
It's important to give your best at work but it does no one any good if you overwork yourself and fall sick because of it. Remember to have fun and keep an open mind as you explore the wonderful, fast-paced world of journalism.
Josephine J (@josephinejalleh), 27, is a freelance writer, blogger, aspiring travel writer and former journalist. Her working stint as a news journalist with a mainstream English daily for more than three years has undoubtedly been one of her most unforgettable life experiences ever. She is most grateful to her former colleagues and bosses who have painstakingly guided, nurtured and at times, reprimanded her in her work. Though she misses her days in journalism, Josephine has ventured into freelance writing and further studies to seek new knowledge and experiences. Liked this post? Subscribe now to read more post like this one! Tweet