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Media Internships Don’t Lead to Jobs. So What?

help-wantedWe all know internships are the best way to get a job in media, right? Er, not so much, according to this interactive chart via LinkedIn.

The research doesn’t even delve into the issues of paying interns or what, if anything, you can get from working in digital media. If you scroll down and click through the Media/Entertainment category you’ll see that:

  • In Sports, Publishing, and Media Production, there are lots of internships available (as any job board search will show) but very few actually turn into full time positions.
  • If you want to get into broadcast as a journalist, you’re in even worse luck: few opportunities, and of those, you have almost no chance of getting a job.

For communications and journalism majors starting school this season, that can be discouraging. But it’s also the nature of the industry. Scrolling over Financial Services, you might be wont to change majors. But big accounting firms, for example, recruit their interns and breed them into full time employees. It’s sort of like being in the military, you pass one test, or grueling six month program, and move up the ranks.

In news and publishing, it’s a little harder. Some solutions:

  1. If you don’t land an internship at a large media company — which is also hard to do if you’re enrolled in a school anywhere but New York, stay local or small. There’s nothing wrong with working for the little guys, except that they are most definitely not paying you. You’ll probably get to do more hands on work anyway, and make contacts that actually have time to email you back when you reach out post-graduation.
  2. Go niche. Are you really into sports? Marijuana legislation? Climate change? There are lots of great publishers making their name by being experts in one little thing. Seek them out and beg. And make sure you’re web presence and writing is easily found.
  3. I know there’s the catch-22 of often needing an internship to graduate or for credit, in which case, too bad for you. But if I could go back to school right now, I’d be blogging like nobody’s business. Write. Find your beat. Interact and engage with other writers on social media and in their comments. Then you’ll have more than just a semester of cutting video clips and fiddling with a publisher’s social media accounts: you’ll have some experience.

What are your internship woes? Let us know in the comments or @10,000Words.

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