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Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Guide to getting a job in the media ; Internships

Being a freelance journalist myself, I know first hand how hard it is to get your foot in the door in this area of business. Media, journalism and PR are all very hard jobs to get into and unfortunately good grades and a talent for writing doesn't just do it these days. Experience is so unbelievably important ; but again, gaining experience is tough in its own. First of all, if you are unemployed, it's hard to keep working for free as internships don't always lead onto a full time position. Not all employers offer to pay for travel costs either. It can also be hard actually finding an internship to suit you ; these days internships are advertised in much different ways to how they used to be and often when you finally find out about them, the role might already be filled.

However, being an avid reader of her blog and in complete awe of all her experience, I decided to ask Jennifer Rosellen a bit more about her experience and how she's managed to bag so many internships in the past. I know a lot of my readers are also interested in careers to do with fashion or beauty journalism, writing and PR too so I thought this might be useful! I sent her and email and she was more than happy to answer my questions and offer a bit of advice on how to get your foot in the door when it comes to internships.

You clearly have a lot of experience under your belt! Can you start by telling me how this has come about - from the very beginning? What inspired you to begin your blog?
I was bored in the summer holidays in my second year of University and was googling beauty products and stumbled across Lollipop26 on Youtube and watched her videos for about three hours! Then I found her blog and read that for hours. I decided then to start my own and that night I posted my first blog post which was a little 'introduction' to myself - very cringe worthy now but I had no idea what I was doing!My first opportunity for work experience came from Max Clifford who is a family friend and I spent 2 weeks at MCA. After that I realised I wanted to work in PR so I applied for everything and anything and was lucky enough to secure my Lancôme Internship. I went traveling and on my return secured an internship Babelfish PR as I had met the girls through my blog and kept in contact. After finishing at Babelfish I interned at More Magazine, which came about through being a member of the 'More hot 100!'.

How long have you been a PR Assistant Account Executive (what a mouthful!) and what does the role entail?
I have been a PR assistant account exec for 3 months. It entails lots of admin such as keeping track of costs, logging all of the coverage of the product you are PRing, calling journalists to see what they are working on, arranging and undertaking press drops whereby you visit journalists to deliver products, sourcing items for press days and journalist gifts (e.g. cupcakes, prizes, alcohol, venues, goody bags), targeting influencers (celebrities, bloggers etc), writing press releases and lots and lots of replying to calls and emails!

Have you always wanted to be a PR Assistant Account Executive?
I've always wanted to be in PR yes. I would eventually like to move into beauty writing and social media full time as well as PR.

How did you manage to get your blog represented by Handpicked Media and how does this benefit you? Does it involve any extra work on your part?
You have to have a certain number of unique users per month before you can become a part of the handpicked media collective - it does not involve any more work :)

For readers who don't know much about Handpicked Media can you just sum up what involvement they have with bloggers and how any bloggers can try and get represented by them too?
Handpicked Media represents some of the most popular blogs - I have only been represented by them for a week or so so I don't have much insight yet!

What was your first internship and how did you find the opportunity?
At MCA and because Max was a family friend. The others I have found through twitter (Lancôme), networking and blogging (Babelfish) and blogging (More!)

Your blog lists the different internships you've had over the past few years - do you have any other experience that isn't listed?
Nope! Just University and things I did there such as events organising (I was one of a team of four who organised the safer sex ball event at Exeter University)

Did you go to university and if so did you study a degree related to your current job role?
Exeter University - Psychology.

What do you think is more important - a degree or experience?
Difficult one. They both have their benefits. I think they are equally important and I would say that just because you have a degree in 'X' doesn't mean you cannot pursue a career in 'Y' . I think having a degree will always be beneficial as employers react favorably to it, but you can always complete work experience and internships in the job sector you wish to pursue regardless of whether you have a related degree or a degree at all!

Can you tell me a little bit about the internships you've had so far. For example, what was the best/worst one? Did any of them lead onto any other opportunities?
They have all been helpful but I enjoyed being the only person in the Lancôme office for 2 days as that was a lot of responsibility and Babelfish also gave me a lot of responsibility, which was great. There is also a lot of boring stuff like sorting out the post and getting peoples tea and coffee - especially in magazines. That's not quite as fun...!

You have a section on your blog where you list available internships - how do you find out about them all?
I follow everyone on twitter! Like everyone from every magazine possible! Plus gorkana jobs, diary directory and fashion monitor. If anyone ever RT's or tweets an internship I make sure to favourite it.

How do you feel different internships have benefited you?
I've gained an insight into a world I'd never otherwise see, especially with regards to the workings of a busy magazine desk. I feel that internships show you are serious about a career and that you are willing to make an effort so it looks good to an employer. It's always great to network and meet new people and see inside different organizations.

How do you find time for all the different internships whilst you are also working?
I was at University and on my gap year luckily enough but it is very difficult. I'd suggest taking a job in retail (I worked at Jack Wills for example in my gap year), which allows for flexible shifts.

Finally, do you have any advice for anybody struggling to get their foot in the door or struggling to find their first internship?
Yes - read this!

Massive thanks to Jennifer for taking the time to answer these questions! I hope this benefits anyone who  may be struggling with these types of internship problems - I know it has helped me. You can visit Jennifer's blog here and you can also find an excellent feature on her blog where she regularly lists current internship opportunities - it's very helpful!


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