Welcome back to another week of the Millennial Minute! This week I want to talk internships, because in our field of media and radio, these opportunities are even more important for career opportunities. I was absolutely fortunate to intern at some amazing media companies who really took their internship programs seriously and knew how valuable a great intern experience can be for a career. Shout out all of my former intern coordinators!
Obtaining an internship may seem like a breeze, but the competition not only for applicants but also in the number of programs is steep. Not to mention the fact that many companies are now paying their interns which now plays into company finances. When I interned in college, there were like 10 of us per semester, and that was just in programming. Why so many? Free labor! I was so excited to be in a radio studio (that I actually listened to and grew up following) I would have done just about anything to get my foot in the door! Pay? I didn’t even ask about pay, it wouldn’t have mattered. I knew I loved radio and music and having that environment every day was something I never wanted to give up. But now, you are lucky to find a local radio or tv group that has any more than possibly two interns per semester. I know quite a few radio and tv groups that only have interns for the Summer, not every semester. Less opportunity, more students applying. Now this is also a factor because our industry has downsized over the years, less people doing more work means some initiatives, like an internship program, get lost because people don’t have enough hours in a day to take on another responsibility.
So, how do you stand out to get that interview? First, start early. I cannot tell you how many times I have had students reach out to me to apply for an Internship AFTER the semester starts, or in their LAST year of college. Unless you have a truly outstanding circumstance, there is no reason to wait to start applying for internships. Even if the requirements are to be a Junior or Senior for example, start reaching out Freshman year and potentially by Sophomore year with the right student, they may make an exception. At the very least you have made a contact for the future who knows you are serious about your professional career.You then need to prepare a list of what companies you are going to target, keep a record of where you apply and when so that you don’t get a call and forget who you have been applying too! Yes, that did happen to me before, not a good look. I thought I was being a super student by applying to like 10-15 places a day, but I quickly forgot who was who, got a call, and had to say “I’m sorry, where are you calling from again?” I didn’t get a callback that time.
Time to apply, get your resume ready, custom cover letters, letters of recommendation, and any work samples you think may be beneficial for the type of role you are applying for. Also, please make sure your email is professional and your phone number is updated. If you have a direct point of contact where you are applying, make sure to reach out to that person after you officially apply and let them know.