Internships and why they are so valuable

Mazzy Star is currently studying a Graduate Certificate in eLearning and is a multimedia all-rounder on her way to become an eLearning designer and developer. Her passions include technology, education and digital storytelling. For the past seven months Mazzy has been undertaking an internship at eWorks. Here she talks about her experience.

The value of being an intern

A few years ago I embarked on a career change that involved returning to higher education on a full time basis to complete an interactive media degree.  I learnt a whole bunch of new skills and uncovered an aptitude for digital creativity. In my final year the question of how to translate all this new knowledge into a career became a focus for me. I was keenly aware that more people are gaining higher educational qualifications than ever before, so competition for graduate level positions would be fierce. To prepare myself for this transition I approached a number of organisations about undertaking an internship and eWorks answered the call.

So … what is an internship?

An internship is an opportunity to work with an organisation in your chosen field to:

  • apply those freshly minted skills
  • network with people doing the job you want
  • work out if this is really the direction you want to head in, and
  • if this is the employer for you.  

It gives you a glimpse into how your studies actually work in the real world and provides some breathing room while you make mistakes, find your feet and build your confidence.

The payoff

Being an intern has been an invaluable experience for me and I recommend it to anyone launching a career, whether starting out in the workforce or taking a left turn mid-life. I had the opportunity to work with a lot of great people who graciously provided me with time to quiz them about their roles and experience as well as lots of interesting conversations about eLearning that I wouldn’t have had anywhere else.  

Some of the biggest advantages of undertaking an internship have aided me professionally:

  • Clarity on pursuing a career in eLearning design and development.
  • Application of skills from formal study and identifying gaps and weaknesses.
  • Training and guidance from highly skilled staff who are doing what you want to do.
  • Networking with eLearning industry professionals in a variety of roles.

How to get an internship

If you’re looking to do an internship yourself you can locate them through employment websites, internship placement organisation or your university careers department. Alternatively, if you’re like me and keen to get moving, you could source your own internship. Here are a few steps to get you started:

  1. Define the type of role/s you want to work in.
  2. Research organisations that have that role and employers you would like to work for
  3. Keep a spreadsheet with contact details of all the organisations you decide to contact – website, phone, address, email, contact person
  4. Craft a brief email detailing who you are and why you want an internship with them and send a personalised version to each organisation on your list
  5. If you do not hear from them, send a follow-up email after a week.

You may be pleasantly surprised by the number of responses you get. I ended up declining a number of offers as I was juggling full-time study and part-time work and had limited time available. You may be able to take on more than one internship at a time, to maximise your exposure to a variety of different workplaces.

Final thoughts

It would be easy to think that, ideally, your internship converts into paid employment – either with the employer you interned with or another similar organisation. And it will…eventually, but financial reward or employment should not be your primary focus of this experience. Instead, think of your internship as your own personally developed unit of study, curated to meet your individual career aspirations, not to mention valuable work experience added to your CV. Most importantly, remember to enjoy it.  I am grateful for the time I’ve spent interning for many reasons. Ultimately it has provided me with clarity of purpose and confidence in my abilities, and that – as they say – is priceless.

Thank you Mazzy!

It has been an absolute pleasure to have Mazzy working with us here at eWorks. Not only has she made an enormous contribution to our team, products and services, she has provided us with an opportunity to walk our talk. Fundamentally the eWorks team is a group of passionate educators. Yes we enjoy exploiting the latest technology to facilitate learning, but the ultimate goal is exactly that – learning. Thank you Mazzy!