I went to school for radio, television and film at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. When I first got there, I didn't really know which of the three I wanted to focus on, I just knew I wanted to be in the communications industry in some way, shape or form. I knew I liked radio, and broadcasting, and I knew I liked to write, and I thought the best way to get real world experience outside of the classroom would be, of course, to get myself an internship. But I had no idea how to go about doing that.
It was my sophomore year of college when I decided to start looking for an internship. Everyone tells you to travel as much as you can after high school, so I thought this would be the best opportunity. I began by asking around for anyone with information. Luckily, my mom and dad have a lot of friends in the 'biz since they used to have a comedy and juggling show. That, and they have a pretty diverse and talented circle of friends.
Luckily, one of my mother's closest friends had a contact with a German radio station located in Berlin, called JazzRadio Berlin. She put me in contact with the station owner and founder, and he generously offered me an internship with the station after a series of emails.
This just goes to show the power of reaching out to people you already know for possible opportunities. This might sound like a no-brainer, but it's important to keep in mind. When considering an internship, contact people you know who already work in the field about possible internships. Ask them if the company they work for offers an internship program.
If you don't know anyone personally in the industry, reach out to people who do. This could be your parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and more. Don't be afraid to ask the people you love... they will most always be willing to help you.
The next piece of advice is to expect to work for free. The grey area between unpaid interns and paid employees is coming into light more and more these days. But I can tell you, both of my internships were unpaid, but the experience I gained from them far outweighed the $7.50 or so an hour I would have made working for them, anyway.
This brings me to my second internship, and my next tidbit of advice. If you really want an internship, and you aren't getting a response from the company, call them. Over and over.
As my junior year of college came to an end, I felt that itch to get an internship again. I began looking in Santiago, Chile, since a friend of mine also had an internship there that summer. Perusing the web, I came across an English news website called I Love Chile. I saw they had an internship program, so I applied.
When I didn't hear back from them, and the summer was approaching pretty fast, I began to get antsy. That's when I decided to just call them. I dialed the 12-digit number and waited. But it didn't take just one phone call. I called again and again until I finally got a person instead of a voicemail, and told them how much I wanted the job until I got the offer. And let me tell you... that was totally not in my comfort zone. But I am SO glad I did it.
That being said, once you land an internship, worry about money later. I had no idea how I was going to fly to Europe and be able to afford living there for two months for my German internship. But luckily, I was able to work out a living arrangement with the people there. In Chile, it was a bit different. With a little research, I was able to find an affordable program that helped me find a place to stay. They acted as a liaison between people renting out rooms, and tourists and students looking for a place to stay. These programs are often quite affordable if you search around. As far as expenses, you'd be surprised how cheap you can live while abroad. Staying in a hostel or a room for rent is fairly inexpensive, and public transit is your best friend.
I'd be happy to do an in-depth blog about international internships, if anyone is interested.
My internships taught me so much about not only hard work, but the industry I now work in. And seeing two internships on my resumé has definitely helped me land jobs along my way.
So, don't be afraid to put yourself out there, and ask the people around you for possible opportunities. Don't expect a big (or any) paycheck when you do land an internship, and be persistent if you don't get the internship you want.
It's a tough process, but totally worth it in the end.