I often get asked why I chose to study a course with a compulsory 30-week industry placement. Some people get confused when I say that I am taking a year out of University to work. Many of these ask me what the point of an internship is. Why don’t I just stay on, finish my degree and then go off to work?
I thought it was clear, but with all of the questions, it seems it isn’t.
Because the thing is, if you’ve never considered experience it is hard to realise the value of internships until you go for an interview or attempt to enter an industry. Every internship I applied for highly valued or required experience. And I will be honest and say that until I had experience behind me, I had really underestimated the benefits. So seeing as I will be ‘the intern’ for a year at L’Oreal, I’ve listed the reasons for why I think internships are crucial in starting out in the industry….
Most industries are super competitive now. It is hard to leave University with a job. You need to stand out. That is just the way it is. Experience is one of those ways to stand out. It is something different about you. You have spent time in an industry and taken the time to learn hands on experience. Something different than the other candidate sat next to you. A placement year was one of the reasons why I chose this program at Bournemouth. Because a whole year of industry experience is a perfect way to gain experience whilst making myself stand out. Making myself different. I didn’t want to just ‘get a degree’. I wanted to gain knowledge in communications and I feel that whilst some knowledge can be taught, much of it lies in experiencing communications first hand. Learning these skills first hand. Furthering myself through experience.
As I have just mentioned, the job market is super competitive. People need to stand out. I personally think that having a range of experience can only provide rewards for individuals because it brightens your CV and makes it more interesting. It isn’t a standard piece of paper with grades and hobbies on. You have experience in the industry. I want to show that I am motivated and committed so interning for a year is my way of distinguishing myself.
Networking is a big element in PR. Having contacts coming into the industry is invaluable even just to learn from. But these contacts don’t come from thin air. These contacts are earnt. Knowing more people entering an industry can only help. Building up a network can only be invaluable.
Hands on experience
In my opinion, hands-on experience is one of the most important things that you can gain. After my experience, I had a whole new outlook on PR. I had seen it happen first hand. Interning allows you to see what working in PR is actually like. What PR actually involves. In my opinion, you can study PR, but it doesn’t mean to say that you will enjoy working in it. My questions to myself before experience were ‘do I suit in-house or agency‘, ‘what sort of PR do I want to do‘, ‘what is working in PR even like‘. Having experience allows you to find out which parts you like and what working in PR is like. I hope that by the time I graduate, my experience will have given me the knowledge to know where I want to be placed within the industry. I think I know, but I only have very little experience. Who knows what I will think by the time I graduate.
Experience is about finding yourself and what you enjoy. For me, the experience is helping me to grow as a person. It is building upon my confidence and strengthening my passion for a subject and an industry.
So, as you can probably tell, I have no problems with being ‘the intern’. Because it is helping my future and getting me to where I need to be. In exactly two months, I will be in my second day of my internship and I cannot wait. It will be tough, but I’m ready to learn.