Journalistic Internships – and How To Do It!

Reading time: 6 – 10 minutes

Yes, it’s been a long time.

@VanyaViranda once asked me on Twitter about internships and how to become an intern in a magazine. I hope that I can share my experience with everyone.

Becoming an intern may means a lot of things, it depends on what you do, and how your company ask you to do it. I have tried a number of different kind of internships. From being a volunteer, flexible part-timer, and a full-time staff.

For your consideration, I’ve been a freelance writer for several magazines, including Gogirl!, Hai, and kaWanku. I also contributed for 21-Degrees for several months and sometimes write for JakartaConcerts.com. I contributed in one of Provoke!’s Student Editions and I have authored two books. All of them gave insightful, different experiences for me.

The real work? I worked for the marketing division of Millions Pictures for 6 months. They are the ones who made Queen Bee movie. I also worked as an intern for (almost) one month in Business Relations Division, British Council Indonesia.

If you want to be a freelance writer, it is actually very easy. You only need to write your own piece about anything you like, the things you are passionate about – like music or films or fictional stories, and then send it to a magazine that you think would publish your work. Before we send our work, we have to learn the characteristic of our target magazine. For example, if you want to write about life lessons in a girl’s point of view, you can not send it directly to a magazine. You have to learn the characteristic of each magazine. In my opinion, Gogirl! is more into trends and fashion, CosmoGIRL! is more into self-esteem campaigns, and kaWanku is more ‘think globally, act locally’ campaigns. Now, see the difference? The next thing you ought to do, is only to look around the magazine, find the office’s address (or e-mail!), and send your work. That easy. Wait until you get a call about your work. If not, go write another piece, try to write things that are more appropriate to be placed in that magazine.

Being a contributor is another thing. I got the chance to write for 21-Degrees and JakartaConcerts.com because I tried to maintain my relationship with them. I first met 21-Degrees’ Chief Editor when he went to my school and wanted to featured my school’s achievements. I shook hands with him and tried to get the opportunity to write in his magazine, and I succeeded. You guys should do the same. If one day you meet Anita Moran or Widi Mulia, ask them, “How can I write in your magazine? Because I want to, and I know I can.” It might be successful. If not, they won’t remember your name anyway, don’t be embarrassed. About JakartaConcerts.com, I knew Ryan Novianto & Dimas Wisnuwardono from my friend, Suryo. We chatted for quite some time and I decided to help them by writing for JakartaConcerts.com. I don’t get paid, even till now. But I do it with my heart, to help my friends, not for money. It’s all worth it. God will pay you back, no worries.

In Million Pictures, I was offered the job because they knew that I blog! So, I think you guys should start blogging seriously. Some people says that it’s a waste of time but I don’t think so. In British Council, I applied for the internship slot there. I chose two fields: Business Relations and Creativity. But, the BR team ‘stole’ me from Creativity. Anyone can apply for the internship position by logging into their website.

I don’t know what else to write but I am going to write a few things… I think you should do if you want to be an intern, especially in media our journalistic field:

  1. Research! That’s the first thing I’d like to advise. Write everything you need to know, and ask the things that you haven’t known yet. I have met tons of journalist who ask ‘What do you do?’ and ‘What is your cause?’ and ‘Where do you go to school?’. Didn’t they do any kind of research before? Come on, this world has Google.
  2. You have to be able to write things from different point of views. Not from your point of view, but from your company’s point of view. This is very important. You don’t want people to read your piece as if it’s your diary, right?
  3. Make sure that you write the ‘right’ thing. Ask your resources if needed. It pisses me off when anyone writes incorrect details about me, especially when they have interviewed me.
  4. Don’t think about money. Interns who are paid Rp100.000,-/day… are in heaven already. There are people who pay us Rp25.000,- or Rp50.000,- a day, it depends on what you do, and of course, how you do it. Some of them doesn’t even give anything to us, and be happy with it. The most valuable thing you get from becoming an intern is the experience.
  5. Take the bus. Bring your own lunch. Don’t even think about taking a cab or buying your lunch in the canteen. Waste of money. Save it for something, like, maybe, BlackBerry or MacBook :D
  6. Be friendly to anyone. One of the main aim of becoming an intern is to get the connections, expand your network. Talk to these people you are working with, with enough respect and enough friendliness. They are eager to help interns like you though they seem ‘scary’ at first. Talk about what you do (and say it excitingly and interestingly), and give them a clue that you need their help. That’s what I did in British Council. I asked these people’s help for IYC!
  7. Critical thinking is needed! Let them know what you think about what they do, give feedback, they really appreciate it. It’s time for our voice to be heard, right?
  8. Never give up. I have sent more than 100 applications in my life, to different institutions: to apply for internships, competitions, ask for sponsorships, ask for support. Some of them got back to me, the rest didn’t, and no hurt feelings. They are busy, just like us.
  9. Stop thinking that you can’t do something. YOU CAN. If you try. I hate listening to people say that “I cannot do this and that”. All you have to do is sit in front of your laptop and type something in Google. That’s how I got some things. That’s how I knew that British Council calls for interns. That’s how I found out that there’s is such thing like JakartaConcerts.com. If you only wait for people to tell you to do things, you won’t achieve something big.

Hmmm… Again, I don’t know what else, but let me know if you want to ask anything, I’d be glad to help I hope what I’ve written will give insightful knowledge for you, especially about internships in journalism.