High School > College > Dream job. A path that quite a number of people could easily follow back in the day. Fast forward to 2014 and that is far from the picture that the average tertiary school graduate is facing.
Unemployment is one of the biggest issues the youth of South Africa are currently facing. Inexperience and its negative impact on possible employment is another. This is where internships come in. An internship (paid or unpaid) offers people – usually students – the opportunity to gain practical experience for an extended period of time in the industry relating to their field of study. That experience increasing the chances of potential employment.
Take Live Magazine SA for example. A project born from Livity Africa, it is a platform that gives young people the opportunity to gain practical experience, skills and training in various fields of the media industry. I spoke to one of their former interns who’s now employed full-time.
23 year-old journalist and filmmaker Lee Molefi is currently the digital content manager of the VIP campaign and had this to say about his internship experience:
What were you doing before deciding to seek out an internship?
I was always involved in the film industry, after high school I went straight into shadowing (on-the-job learning from someone who is in the field you are interested in). I did a lot of freelancing… After 3 years, I [developed] an interest in writing after doing an article I intented to be published in The Star newspaper
How did you find out about the internship at Live Magazine SA?
I went to one of their Creative Hustle events (brought to you by Live SA & British Council Connect ZA), liked their page on Facebook and that’s where I saw the call-out for talent.
How did it help you develop as a writer?
First of all, it put me within a harsh pressure environment, which means I had to develop and learn to respond quickly, work within a team and meet targets. Importantly, it gave me a real world work experience.
How did you know that this was the right way to go in terms of your career?
The fact that it would actively put me in the field, I knew then it was the right way to go and when the opportunity at Live came, I took it.
What were some of the challenges that you faced?
After freelancing for so long, it was hard to adjust with working with a team because with freelancing I had the freedom to do whatever I like. Interactions mostly were a bit of a challenge.
How did you feel about it being an unpaid internship?
I knew exactly what I was getting into. I’m largely passion and social economy change driven. The evidence of my work isn’t necessary how much I take home at the end of the month, but how much I can influence and change my world.
Were your expectations of the internship met?
Yes, I was lucky enough to land a job because of the internship. I cultivated the right habits, I got challenged in all the right ways; intellectually, mentally, socially and personality wise.
Any advice to someone seeking employment through internships?
Have a very strong idea of exactly why you’re taking the internship for your long term planning, but keep an open mind. Always be ready to take part and allow yourself to be challenged, invest all of your time and commit to it. Internships are extremely important to companies and the industry in terms of identifying talent, so make the best out of it.
Like any other opportunity, there are rules that one has to follow or requirements that you have to meet when applying for an internship.
Sid Sidwada from Livity Africa is one of the people that has had an experience working with interns, and mentioned that some of the mistakes made by people are that “they don’t necessarily set out personal objectives for themselves“, she thinks “its important to know what you (person applying) want to learn and leave with”, and as a person who herself had done several internships at the start of her career, what she gained most was skills and the contacts she made.
Esnah Thwale from Oglivy & Mather South Africa said that internships contribute in training people for work experience and they give them out to help people to graduate because in some institutions, one is required to be part of an internship program as part of their chosen degree.
Living in a world where experience is the key to getting a job, it’s always a great opportunity to intern for a company like Lee did. Firstly it’s a great opportunity and it provides you with experience in your chosen field, it also assures potential employers that you are a great potential employee. There are plenty of internships available in almost every field, we need to start aligning ourselves with these opportunities as young people and make the best out of them.
For great internship opportunities visit http://studentspaza.co.za/