Why Interning is So Much More Than Getting Coffees

By Hannah O’Donnell, Founder of Straight Up PR


Learning the fundamentals of your chosen field at college or university provides students with an understanding of an industry and equips them with the skills to write, analyse data and think strategically. An internship however, allows students to gain insight into the workforce and what it’s like to work in a team environment, while also exposing them to the full gamut that an industry has to offer.

Practical work experience plays a significant role when attempting to enter the job market and will allow you to stand out against rife competition. You’ll learn so many things about yourself and the industry. So why not try one, two or even three internships before deciding where your passion lies!

For me, my career journey began when I applied for an internship at a communications agency during university. It was an amazing experience, that ultimately turned into a full time role after my studies. I’ll never forget the people I worked with and the skills I learnt. Here are my insights into why interning is essential for your future self and career and why you’ll be doing a lot more than just getting coffees.


You’ll learn so much about yourself

Completing an internship will not only be an opportunity to learn more about your chosen industry and the world of full-time work. Your internship will be an amazing chance to learn more about yourself.

Passion is what drives success, and if you don’t love what you do or the environment in which you’re working in, you might feel stuck. By completing an internship, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the things you really enjoy doing, as well as those that don’t necessarily interest you. An internship allows you to explore what a career in your chosen field might look like and give you the opportunity to decide whether it’s the right path for you.

Discovering your passion and what drives you may be hard to find at first. By leaving your comfort zone, trying something new and exposing yourself to new people, environments and ways of working, you’ll be able to see your goals with more clarity and know how to best achieve them.

Don’t feel pressured to dive straight into a career or full-time work after study. Take your time, try as many internship experiences as you can, and even pick up new subjects whilst at university if you’d like to try something new, and deepen your learning.


You’ll gain real life experience and exposure

Taking the chance to harness the knowledge and skills that you’ve learnt during your studies and put them to practice in the real world, will be vital to your professional development.

Internships allow you to take what you’ve learnt out of the class room and into the workplace. An internship will also enable you to actually work in and learn more about the industry that you’re interested in, that the classroom can’t offer.

Interning at a credible business is so much more than doing coffee runs. You’ll be given the appropriate training, support and tasks as if you’re a part of the team which will give you the building blocks to create a successful future career or to excel in your studies.

You’ll also gain the opportunity to showcase your talents, dedication and value to the business and employer, as you never know if an internship will progress into a full-time position.

Be prepared to work hard, give everything a go, and stand out to your employer with your positive can-do attitude.


You’ll learn from others and be able to network

Act as a sponge and soak up all the information you can whilst interning. Observe what others are doing and ask questions. Learning the ins and outs of the different roles will allow you to gain a greater understanding of how the business or workplace operates and how you’ll be able to fit into a similar role in the future. Show initiative and a keen interest to learn and try asking your leader if you can shadow them or to join in on a meeting. Don’t be shy, you’ve got nothing to lose!

Building deeper connections with your colleagues, employer, other interns and industry leaders you look up to, is also important. These relationships may be beneficial to your future career.

Ask someone you admire out for a tea or coffee. Pick their brains on their professional journey, what inspires them and if they have any advice for you as a young professional. Networking can happen anywhere, even waiting in line for a coffee. Building these connections and fostering relationships is vital and may open doors to future opportunities. So get networking!

Don’t be afraid to get out there, apply for an internship, find your passion and soak up all the knowledge and information. It will be so much more than just doing coffee runs!

Here are my quick tips on how to land your dream Internship:

1. Be clear on the industry you want to represent

2. Research businesses that you’d like to work for and get your top three – know them inside and out

3. Compile a strong pitch email to the head of the business indicating your knowledge of what they do

4. Invite them for a catch up and meet at a café close to them – you go the distance. Ask questions, show your interest and share more about you and your value to the business

5. Send an email afterwards thanking them for their time and touch on any relevant points of your conversation


More about Hannah:

Hannah O’Donnell is the Founder and Managing Director of Straight Up PR, a health, fitness and lifestyle agency known for its impactful campaigns and straight up approach to PR. With her infectious energy, strong industry knowledge and unique business attributes, Hannah established Straight Up PR in 2013 after following her intuition and creating an agency that filled a gap in the market. Hannah’s vision was to bring to life an agency that specialised in health and wellbeing, and was a little different in how they operated. Hannah has created a culture that exudes authenticity, and prioritises the fostering of relationships and building of communities – the essence of what PR is all about. Connect with Hannah via Instagram @hannah_o_donnell OR @straightup_pr OR www.StraightUpPR.com.au.