There is a wealth of industry knowledge and networking that can be gained from work experience. Sure, we might have to do it unpaid but the practice and contacts you establish can pave the way for your dream career.
As a student, I shared big dreams for my media career. I didn’t just want to be the coffee girl, so I was selective about my work experience and I made sure that when I was there, I kept busy and made the most of every opportunity:
My first work experience was with Woman’s Day Magazine. I wanted to be a top-notch journalist and I wasn’t settling for anything less. I spent a week at their Sydney office. I ended up doing coffee runs, clerical and administrative tasks on my first day. I had an inkling that my week was going to follow suit and be a waste – but it wasn’t. It was so different to what I expected…
I spent a day on set with Human Nature doing a Christmas shoot. This was a whole day where I got to put my journalist hat on with professionals.
I then spent another day with Sharyn Ghidella, Channel Seven newsreader. We went to her house to do a pregnancy shoot and she gave us a tour, it was surreal to see a television face in her everyday lifestyle.
I also spoke with celebrities on the phone and many of the people I met, I have remained in contact with. It was a fabulous experience to develop a network in my industry, and all while I was just the work experience kid!
Another work experience was in a regional television newsroom. Still today, 10 years on, I pass on their reference to prospective employers as it was one of the best I have gotten in my entire career!
I turned up to this newsroom and spent every spare moment in a quiet corner writing and getting senior journalists to edit my stories, so I could learn and improve. After learning the ropes, I was offered a job and gained a lifelong mentor. He told me that I was welcome back any time. Although it was unpaid, it was a phenomenal experience that cemented my future.
So, my advice to any student is to milk work experience. Sure, it’s hard not to be paid to do a job and you may not be doing what you love at first… but remember it’s all going towards your career and hard work pays off!