Your internship is the most important step you will take in college toward getting started on your dream career. The key to really making it work is selecting the right internship!
It's very easy when you start considering where to apply for an internship to immediately think about your favorite radio or television station. Sure it can be cool to tell your friends you "work" at the favorite radio station in town or the top TV station in the area. But is this really the place where you are going to get the most from doing an internship? There are a number of factors that play into the answer. Among them is the location of the station and whether there are any unions involved. It's important to make the right choice because you are going to be spending a lot of your time at your internship and probably are not going to be paid. (While you may not be taking home a paycheck you ARE being paid in experience which can be much more valuable in the long run.)
It often happens that the bigger the location, the less you get to do. That's primarily because they have plenty of people working there and they are under pressure to get things done. So, you may end up doing a lot of watching rather than doing. The bigger stations often also have one or more unions that the employees work under. If that's the case, then only union workers can do the covered work. And again, it means you will be doing a lot of watching and not much doing.
Smaller stations or studios generally have smaller staffs and therefore rely on their interns to perform important tasks. And smaller companies are often not union so you don't have those restrictions holding you back. Often you can get more valuable hands-on exprience by doing an internship at a smaller company. Doing is always better than watching!
This doesn't mean you should avoid the bigger stations and studios. They very often have excellent internship programs. But to make sure that you will be getting what you want out of your internship it's important that you know what to expect before accepting a position. How do you find out? It's simple...ask!
During your interview, ask the person you are talking to exactly what you will be doing during your internship. From your resume they will already know about your skills and previous experience. Be bold! Let them know that you are anxious to put those skills to work and to learn more through your internship. It's hard to turn a qualified applicant down who basically is saying "I'm here and I want to work."
But what if they tell you that, because of whatever reason, interns there mostly just get to watch. Then you will need to make a decision. Are you OK with that? If you are, then that's fine. If you're not, you should be prepared to politely turn down the internship if it is offered to you. If the person asks why, be honest. Tell them you are looking for a more hands-on internship experience.
Because you may have to do a few interviews to find the right internship, make sure you know your school's deadlines for landing your internship and turning in whatever paperwork is required. And start early lining up those interviews. This is a big step and believe me, it's going to be fun!
Nervous about interviews? That's what we'll talk about next month in my article -A Great Interview is More than Just a Q-and-A.
Tammy Trujillo is both an entertainer and an educator. She began in the entertainment field as a child and since graduating from Cal State Fullerton, has continuously worked in the Los Angeles market as a News Anchor, Reporter, Sportscaster and Commercial Voice-Over Artist. Combining her real-world experience with a hands-on approach to learning, Tammy has also taught broadcasting for the past 25 years at many of Southern California's most prestigious private schools and colleges. She is currently the lead Professor of Broadcasting at Mt. San Antonio College, as well as Director of its two award-winning campus radio stations. Throughout her career, she has received numerous honors for her work both on the air and behind-the-scenes, including several Golden Mike Awards from the Radio Television News Association. Tammy is a member of SAG-AFTRA, a former Board member of the Associated Press Television Radio Association, a Hall of Fame member at Long Beach City College, and a member of Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters.