Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Internship Blues

It had been about six weeks since I mailed off an internship package to my number one choice. I, being confident that I'd already built up a good rapport with the "key folks" within that organization, banked on this being the most promising prospect of the several internship programs I'd applied to for the summer.

I had a phone interview with this organization's recruiter about a week after I mailed in my application. The phone interview seemed to go well:
"I'm really interested in working with "so-and-so", I really admire their approach to multimedia. And I'm especially impressed with the "such-and-such" story that you all published about "such-and-such" topic."
I was confident that I'd at least demonstrated that I knew several things about the organization and the folks responsible for producing the aforementioned work. I was then told I would be contacted in about a week or two, whether or not I was to be brought on as an intern.

Two weeks pass and I meet with my multimedia coach, who happens to work for the organization to which I had applied. She suggests that I call the recruiter and then, if I didn't hear back, send an email.

I had already called, left a message and did not get a response. So, per my coach's advice, I sent an email. And still I got no response.

Four weeks pass, and then five and then six. At this point my anxiety level had reached its highest heights. I was tired of being patient. I wanted to have some idea of what my summer would have been like.

So I hastily picked up the phone and dialed the recruiter's direct line. The phone rang twice and I heard a voice on the other end:
(paraphrased) "I'm sorry, but we did not choose you for the internship. Our multimedia editor is looking for someone who has all the skills required for producing multimedia and just hadn't had a chance to do it at a daily paper. You mentioned that you had not yet learned Flash."
I held the phone to my ear in complete shock (though my voice and tone did not express this to the recruiter). Not only was I disappointed that my ideal summer would not come to fruition, I also didn't understand how my not knowing Flash seemed to be the deciding factor in why I didn't qualify for the multimedia internship.

I immediately wished I went to school as a Flash design major or computer programming major, on top of majoring in journalism. If ever I've felt inadequate, it was after that phone conversation. It was hard for me to swallow the fact that I had worked so hard to learn every other skill involved in online media; and the one skill I have yet to learn has me wondering what's out there for a multimedia producer who doesn't yet know Flash.

Posted by Aaron Morrison at 12:02 PM | link

Read or Post a Comment

Aww Aaron. I'm so sorry, but I know the ups and downs of finding a regular internship. I have to say, I always hear people saying, "you need to know more multimedia 'stuff,'" but they don't say what you need to know.

And finally, Flash ain't that fun. It's cool all of the stuff you can do with it, but learning it SUCKS!
If the software is in most of your school's lab, find some free time (like that's a dime a dozen) and start messing with the tutorials. They are pretty helpful.
Keep your head up buddy.

Posted by Blogger Vdizzle @ 6:23 PM, April 04, 2007 #

I agree: A few hours in a computer lab with the "help" menu and some good google technique can be more useful than a class when learning almost any software. Set aside some time (I know -- not easy) and you should do fine.

I would hardly worry too much about this. You've got a killer portfolio, some great skills, a bunch of strong organizational experience at SFSU and a couple blogging roles to boot (plus some contributions to other online publications -- thanks for hopping onto this one, by the way). As long as you apply to a wide variety of places, you should be in pretty high demand.

That brings me to the big message of this whole comment, however: Do not be afraid of small institutions when applying for internships. While I know it can seem counterintuitive to move "down" from stringing for big papers like The Tribune, it might give you more freedom and a bigger chance to shine.

Also, consider looking waaay outside the Bay area. Most really good internship programs can help you with finding and paying for a place to live in the summer. Strange little towns as diverse as Bakersfield, Anniston, Colorado Springs, Norfolk, West Lafayette and Kalamazoo can be surprisingly hip that way. They all have great print design internships, from what I gathered last year while searching as a page designer. Often, that means good multimedia opportunities as well.

Or ditch the papers altogether, get in on the ground floor of a growing community blog like SiliconVelleyWatcher or LAobserved and turn it into your own vehicle for quality journalism. Believe me: You're in a good position.

Posted by Blogger Patrick @ 8:04 PM, April 07, 2007 #
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