Home

Videos

Articles

About

Contact

Go ahead—try “intern” on for size


Don’t look down on an intern—being one for a little while may just be one of the best things you ever did for your career.

I joined the ranks of “interns” back in 2006—five times in total, although if my two-year Broadcast Journalism diploma program hadn’t forced it on me as a course requirement I likely would never have discovered the value of internships. 

Now that I know how huge the benefits are, I’d advocate for anyone to include internships in their career path, whether it’s part of a school program or not.

When considering the myriad benefits to being an “intern”, let these 6 points be your guide:

 

1. You can try out your learned skills in the real world—with less pressure.

The first time you get hired out of school, or in the field you’d like to get into, the pressure to deliver and “know what you’re doing” can feel like it will swallow you.

So why not practice in a setting where you have more freedom to make mistakes first, so you do know a bit of what you’re doing when you do get on a payroll? 

Besides applying the theoretical knowledge you’ve stuffed into your brain, you get hands-on learning of industry etiquette, workflow, the way roles interact and a buttload of other things books just can’t teach you—and the stakes aren’t so damn high.

 

2. You’re taking the field for a test-run.

How do you know which direction you want to go all “eye of the tiger” on if you haven’t taken it for a test-run yet?

 

I thought maybe being a news reporter or anchor could be my jam, but after a three week practicum in CBC’s busy TV News department I was sure it wasn’t. But when I interned with a TV production company, I knew the more moderately-paced storytelling style was up my alley. 

3. It’s a great way to land a job.

While you give that role or industry a test-run, the company is taking you for a test-run as well. Now is your time to let your strengths shine, so if you show hard work ethic, a keen mind and blend well with their workplace culture, they may just realize how great of an addition you’d make to their team on the regular. Three out of my five three-week practicums resulted in offers for paid work.

Even in cases where there’s no hope of a job offer at the end of your internship, there are other ways it can score you work in the industry later, like building your network and resume—but we’ll get to those later. 

 

4. You might find a natural mentor.

Here’s a story from Bart van den Essenberg, our resident motion design and production assistant intern at True Calling:

“The people I met at my first internship taught me so much. One of the guys is now not only a super good friend of mine but also my mentor in a lot of ways. That was almost 5 years ago now, during my second year of graphic design school. In the meantime, I’ve grown a lot as a person and as a designer; my mentor ended up inspiring and helping me build my own company 3 years ago.”

It’s evident Bart has found himself a new mentor at True Calling: our full time Motion Designer, Andrew, has taken to Bart so much so that photoshopping his face onto old movie posters is his new distraction. 

 

5. You can grow your network.

It can be tough starting out with minimal experience and contacts. Jump into the current and begin your transformation from aspiring outsider to participating insider, both in the way you see yourself and in the eyes of other people in the industry. Through that process, you’ll end up building your network of contacts who have seen your skills in action and can recommend you in the future.

I’ve had people I met during internships vouch for me and connect me to others in their network, and on the flip side I’ve also done the same for interns that I’ve met along the way.

 

6. It’s valuable resume fodder.

A good internship fills out your resume in a meaningful way, not just because it shows you have some hands-on experience but because the specific tasks or projects you worked on could apply to the position you’d like to be considered for.

The time I spent interning with CBC Radio and practicing my producer skills later became the basis for landing a fill-in producer role with a newstalk program at a different radio station a couple of years later.

As you go on your own internship journey, you’ll very likely find more benefits of your own to add to this list.

While internships are definitely a financial consideration you have to budget for, seeing as most are unpaid, if you think of it as free schooling rather than free labour it becomes a way more worthwhile endeavour.

That said, do screen your internships carefully beforehand to make sure your skills and time will be maximized. Some places don’t manage their interns well, or use them for unrelated grunt work. But as more and more companies are seeing the mutual benefits of making interns an integral part of the company’s infrastructure, it won’t be long before you find a rad place to get your feet wet.

So, from one former “intern” to a future one: come on in, the water’s fine!