Game Over: #InternLife

At 12:47pm on September 9th, I hung up from a call.

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After roughly 1 year, 2 months:

We’ve selected you for the job…

Give or take, it took me 405 days to find a job.
To get the call and hear those magic words!
There’s relief, happiness, disbelief, joy and euphoria; then there’s how I feel.

My journey (in short):

  • I have two University Degrees, a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Public Relations, and a Masters Degree in International Relations which I finished in mid-2013.
  • Each year since (and including (2011) I have been applying for jobs. I applied for Graduate positions in the State and Federal Government, Private Sector , many jobs outside of WA, and not-for-profit.
  • I did 6 UNPAID internships since mid-2013. I had intermittent work in between for think tanks, not for profit, marketing research, administration, waitressing and the Australian Electoral Commission.
  • I did internships within the following industries: Public Relations (Consultancy), Public Affairs, Image Consultancy, Digital Marketing and voluntary work for a Federal MP.

….but I learned a LOT!

More about myself, to be perfectly honest; and that was the most important thing in the end.

Some of the Lows:

  1. Perth is a very hard place to get a job. I could rant and rave about it, but you just have to be SO persistent.
  2. I had ‘hit the wall’ already when I started seeking internships. It was a hard realization for me that some Degrees get you work quicker than others. Woe, the Arts Degree! I worked hard to get to the official start of my adult career; and I would not have done any other Degree(s).
  3. God bless my family and friends for keeping me sane. I had ups and some serious downs. As a Graduate, rejection really stings when you’re not used to it. I had bitter moments; there were tears, not to mention the mountains of frustration, peppered by feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing. When you get bitter, you lose your motivation, and it is a hard thing to get back.
  4. You don’t always get what you want from internships. You end up doing lunch runs, coffee runs, stuffing envelopes, packing boxes etc. You are the bottom of the food chain. (But then again, it’s a good excuse to get outside in the fresh air!)
  5. People love it when you work for free. They will rarely tell you no.
  6. You’re VERY lucky to get a job at a place you’ve interned at. This is where a lot of bitterness can come from. A lot of places love free help; but I gravitated (somehow) towards small businesses, not-for-profits and places that weren’t hiring. Budgets are getting smaller, so you have to be able to juggle whist cartwheeling on a unicycle through a hoop, on the back of an elephant – if you get my drift.
  7. Not everyone understood my journey. Not even me. There is no predictable end result for every intern. When you’re an intern, you get given a fishing rod, but you only know very little about catching fish. It took me so long to realize that it’s okay to be a learner, as long as you keep wanting to learn.

Some of the Highs:

  1. Doing it differently. I surprised myself. I interned across many industries, and my knowledge and skills from Public Relations and International Relations applied more than I thought (!)
  2. The Projects. Designer Store openings, Charity events and fundraising, an International Conference, Boutique Services, Product ‘startup sprints’. Businesses, concepts, events and ideas that I never knew existed.
  3. The People. I met SO many interesting people; not just CEOs and MDs – I met passionate people. They are the best kind.
  4. I didn’t waste a second of my time. I learned patience. Sometimes waiting for the kettle to boil feels like an eternity, everything is relative. When I stopped getting antsy about being unemployed, I realized there were opportunities to learn right in front of me. Not in the ideal circumstance (I.e. being paid), but never let these opportunities pass you by.
  5. Adjusting to change. It is the nature of the job market now – shorter contracts, not as many full-time positions and reduced security, but the opportunity for experience is still there. It’s just in ‘fun size’ packages now.
  6. Changes. What I wanted for myself career-wise continually changed. You can want one thing so badly, and then find yourself in a completely different situation. Be open minded, and trust your gut instinct.
  7. Taste Testing. I got to have a little taste of a few industries, I found things I enjoyed, and the things I didn’t. I could leave virtually guilt free after my internships finished, knowing I’d tried something new. It’s not all about the employer’s experience of having you on as an intern, it’s also about you – the things you want to try as well.

I start my new job at 8am, September 11th somewhere in Perth City. The sun will set on #InternLife for me for good. I’m a little sad it’s finishing, but I will be happy to be paid for my efforts now.

Never take any job for granted. Earning money is such a blessing. Doing what you love is a joy.

For anyone you know who is an intern, or thinking of interning, I have some parting wisdom:

  • You never know what you might find interesting; try anything that takes your fancy. You might do 1 internship, you might do 6, take them one at a time.
  • When applying for, or contacting an organization to enquire about internships, know what you want to get from the experience; be specific!I.e. Improve your media release writing, event management, learning about SEO and PPC, learning to use a certain software/program.
  • Set a time frame. ‘X’ weeks or if your Boss wants you on for ‘X’ time period while a certain project is happening, even ‘x’ days a week. You can set yourself boundaries even though you are working for free.
  • If you are job hunting, be sure to keep applying for jobs while you’re interning. It doesn’t hurt to scroll through SEEK and shortlist jobs once a week. You get a better feel for what’s available in your industry, what skills are in demand.I.e. I undertook a Digital Marketing internship because I wanted to learn more about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and PPC (Pay Per Click advertising), because I noticed they were often required in social media jobs that I was applying for. Then I learned it for free from the professionals, without having to do a course or a University Degree(!)
  • You are a learner. Yes you’re the bottom of the food chain, but it’s okay to be challenged. Use it as fuel – it makes it so sweet when you eventually excel.
  • Make yourself memorable. Chat to your colleagues and get to know some of them. Particularly the MD/CEO, ask them why they do what they do, why they love it, why they started their company.
  • Dress the same way the CEO or MD does. If in doubt, over-dress slightly. Always have neat, clean (comfortable) shoes on.
  • Always smile. Even when your feet hurt, your coffee is cold, you ripped your pants or you got rained on.
  • Ask for feedback, even though it’s scary!
  • When it rains, it POURS. When bad and good things happen, they happen all at once/in 3s etc. You’ll come home with wet socks, a headache or in a bad mood some days. You learn how to handle it. Let your family and friends support you.
  • You get there in the end. You do. You really do.

In the last couple of months (8-12 weeks) only then did I wake up and realize how my skillset had grown, how I had matured, what I had learned.
You just become calm – it’s weird.

Did I enjoy #InternLife? Yes and No.
There were lows, but there were some great highs. My experiences got me a job.

Am I scared about working life? Being a #WorkingGirl? Yes.

On to the next adventure!
A x

Share your #internlife experience with me! Got a good story?

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