April 27th, 2016
You know that feeling when you are applying for an internship and you’re hoping they just want you to fill out the application and add your resume? Then, you see they want a cover letter, recommendations, essays, and you become overwhelmed? I feel your pain! Applying for internships can be stressful, especially when you have no idea if you will even land it. Although it gets stressful, experience is everything! In order to get experience, you have to apply to as many internships as you can.
I know from personal experience, how exciting it is to get an internship. I was blessed to earn my first major internship with BET Networks. I will be working in the Creative services production department! Experience is necessary for every field, especially the media industry. I received the internship by being a part of the T-Howard internship program, which is a program that helps you land internships with media companies they are partnered with. They sent my resume, I landed an interview, I practiced hard for the interview, did my research, listened to the recording of my practiced interview and landed the internship! Believe that your hard work will not go in vain and that what God has for you will be for you. It took me two years to land a major internship. I want to share how I got it with you and what I’ve learned about internships in the media industry.
1. Get your Resume and Cover Letter together!
Opportunity meets preparation. If you come across an opportunity or meet someone through networking, you may lose out just because you aren’t prepared and your resume isn’t together. I can’t tell you how many times I updated and changed my resume when I was applying for internships. You want to be sure that whatever company you’re applying for, you have the buzz words and experience to match. If you are applying to be an editorial writer, you better talk about your editorial experience and make it sound sharp! If you have a blog with a large following, add that in there! If you were chosen out of 50 students for a scholarship or fellowship, add that in there as well! ALWAYS let other people in our field read over your resume and if you can, find a recruiter that’s in the industry pertaining to exactly what you want to do and ask them if they can look over your resume and give you feedback. I will attach my resume so you all can see how mine looks.
2. Revamp your LinkedIn!
Get rid of that selfie and take some professional headshots for your profile. LinkedIn speaker Teddy Burris came to my class and led a workshop on how we should use our LinkedIn. After I took his advice, recruiters contacted me for opportunities and I got a lot more profile views. So on your LinkedIn, put EXACTLY what you do. Don’t put you’re a student at blah blah blah…..Although you may be a student, you aren’t marketable if a recruiter is trying to search you on LinkedIn. List your skills and exactly what you can do for people. Imagine that you are a recruiter and you are looking to hire someone. That’s how you should present yourself on LinkedIn. You can also ask people/co-workers/professors to write testimonials on your page to talk about your work ethic.
3. Join an organization or career prep program that has partner companies
I’ve found that being a part of an organization that partners you up with companies can be a huge help. If you are a part of an organization and they send your resume to a partner company, they are more likely to look at your resume as a priority rather than you applying randomly among the 700 other general applicants. You may have to pay dues for some of them, but it’s worth investing in your future! In order to even be a part of an organization in media you have to apply through them. These media organizations equip great talent so that their partner companies will always come back to them for more interns. I was in the T-Howard foundation for two years. The first year, they just told me they sent my resume off, but the second year, I got three interviews and landed the internship with BET! This year I had more experience and kept in contact with them more telling them who to send my resume to. Here is a list of programs/foundations you should apply to: T-Howard FoundationMLT (Management Leadership for Tomorrow), Career Prep Program (For sophomores only), Emma Bowen Foundation, NABJ (National Association of Black Journalist), Inroads. It’s great to be a part of a media organization or some type of club where you are surrounded by people who do exactly what you want to do.
I can’t stress how important it is to network with others. Be consistent when you network if you reach out to someone. A question I like to ask if I’m interested in connecting with someone is “What was your first job, and why did you take it when you knew what you really wanted to pursue?” Be genuine when you network with people. Ask them about their life and journey. People love to talk about themselves. Because I networked with someone who works for Essence I got to shadow her around the Essence booth backstage with lots of celebrities at the Essence Festival! It was super exciting and a great experience. I know someone who got the opportunity to meet their favorite celebrity, Steve Harvey, work at the Steve Harvey Neighborhood awards that turned into a paid gig simply because she stayed connected with his manager, wished him happy birthday, and stayed consistent with contacting him.
5. Once you get the interview PRACTICE!
When I found out I was interviewing for BET I scheduled a call with my MLT coach and we practiced questions. She would clean my answers up, critique my pitch, and tell me how to make myself more marketable. Practice in the mirror, practice with interview stream, or one of your professors, TRUST ME…it helps!
6. What’s for you, will be for you.
I’m not the most confident person when it comes to opportunities in this field. The media industry is competitive and sometimes you wonder if your hard work is paying off. I’ve interviewed with Good Morning America, 20/20, KABC, and a lot of other places that told me no. Something in my spirit told me that the BET Networks opportunity was for me. It seemed like it had my name written on it. I’ve been told no so many times, but all you need is that ONE YES to get you to the next step.
A few more points of advice that you should do as a media student seeking an internship:
– Create a reel or have samples of your work such as articles, shows, or packages
– Have an online portfolio with your work and put the link in your email signature
– Ask your professors if they know of any opportunities
– Work your butt off now so that you can rest later
– Be genuine, hungry, and sharp
– After you apply, call companies and ask to speak with the head recruiter to check on the status of your application. Many applicants don’t call!
– Try calling to see if you can intern at a smaller station. Sometimes you have to start small to end up interning for a larger market. I called the local CW station and asked if I could do an internship and they said Yes! I’m sure that experience helped me land the internship with BET because I work in the creative services department and as I mentioned earlier, I will be interning in the creative services department at BET!
– Research unique fellowships. Don’t try to always go for the big news companies if you aren’t having any luck. Find an opportunity where you can be a reporter abroad or something. Think smart and make use of your time.
– If you don’t get an internship, start a blog, YouTube channel, or do something you would do at an internship over the summer! Build your brand!
A guest Post By Khadejah Stegall. If you need assistance with your resume, cover letter, or searching for internships contact Khadejah at email@example.com!