Internships and work experience have long been an acceptable concept, providing both businesses and students the opportunity to 'try before you buy'.
Particularly in the creative space of marketing and communication these opportunities can help students to clarify where they may have a natural aptitude or passion.
Meg Purser of Purser Corporate Communication admits that the initial benefits to her business are often limited because a great deal of time and resources are required to ensure that the students have a valued experience.
“Although there is an investment of time and resourcing involved we believe that it's important for students to gain as much experience as possible throughout their studies to help them understand the practicalities of professional public relations and strategic communication,” Meg said.
“In addition, we have identified a number of talented people that we have since employed in a full or part-time capacity.”
In the Hunter region a number of creative agencies have both structured and unstructured approaches, with Brett Lavaring of Enigma believing there is a place for both.
“I am a firm believer in giving young people an opportunity to gain real life experience working in an agency environment like Enigma and we have had several university students do their work placement within the PR division of Enigma,” Brett said.
“On occasion, I have also been approached by students to undertake work experience one or two days a week off their own bat and provided they meet our criteria we will give them an opportunity.”
Work experience and internships are frequently unpaid positions, however the international media have recently been reporting a backlash against not-for-profit LeanIn.org after the Editor, Rachel Thomas, posted a Facebook status looking for an “editorial intern, to work with our editor (me) in New York. Part-time, unpaid, must be HIGHLY organized with editorial and social chops and able to commit to a regular schedule through end of year. Design and web skills a plus! HIT ME UP. Start date ASAP.”
Laurence Wood of MAD Media Group says they don't pay interns because they are generally not capable of producing work output that they can use at a rate that would make paying them financially viable.
“We don't put interns on because we need work done, we put them on to give them training and exposure to the industry,” Laurence said.
“We currently have several interns who are gaining experience in areas and tasks such as copywriting, SEO, social media management, responding to client briefs and online campaign database management.”
“In the past we have been able to offer junior positions that have become available to students who have undertaken internships with us.”
Both Brett and Meg agreed that on occasion there was opportunity to pay students if their skills added value or extra resources to projects.
Brett Lavaring has more than 27 years of media and communications experience including a career in television journalism working at chief of staff, news producer and presenter. He heads the public relations team at enigma and has been with the company for more than seven years. Enigma is a bunch of passionate people who help businesses succeed by using creativity to solve problems. The Enigma team blends science and intelligence with intuition and instinct to develop creative solutions that deliver.
MAD Media Group
Laurence Wood is the Business Development Manager for the MAD Media Group, a boutique full service agency with a national client base. MAD create advertising campaigns, build websites, develop brands, formulate strategies, produce TVCs and videos, sort out social media and everything in between.
Purser Corporate Communication
Purser Corporate Communication specialises in strategic communication and offers a range of professional services including media relations, issue management, community liaison and event management. Meg Purser is the Managing Director and a highly experienced practitioner who specialises in developing integrated communication programs.