How to get a journalism internship

Journalism can be a tough industry to break into—but completing an internship can help you stand out from the crowd. 

A young woman pointing a camera at a group of people

Whether you want to read the nightly news one day or get a gig anchoring breakfast radio, developing your skills on the job is an ideal way to build your media career. 

An internship or cadetship can be a great way to get a leg up in what can be a pretty competitive industry. It will look great on your CV and help you cut through in the hiring process after graduating. Here’s how to go about finding one that will help get you to where you want to go. 

What is an internship?

An internship is a work placement that gives you on-the-job experience in an industry before being formally hired. You’ll most likely complete one while you’re still studying or shortly after you graduate. You may do an internship to gain credit towards your degree, or you might seek one out independently.

Internships are fairly commonplace in the media industry—but they can be competitive to secure. They are offered by big media organisations, such as the ABC, SBS, News Corp and Nine, as well as smaller news organisations across the country.

Related reading: The main types of journalism you can pursue in your career

As well as the traditional media outlets, you could also consider a placement with the in-house media team of a large organisation, such as an AFL team, which these days have a huge contingent of media professionals producing digital content.

Depending on your role, you’ll get a chance to shadow working reporters, producers and other media professionals, to see how they produce quality journalism and media day after day.

Some media and journalism courses require you to complete an internship or offer it as an elective component. Your lecturers may be able to help you find a quality internship or give you some pointers on how to land one.

What is the difference between a cadetship and an internship?

A cadetship is a lengthier training program, which will probably go for a year, in which you will be paid for your work. An internship will likely only last a month or two and is mostly likely unpaid or will involve a small stipend.

If you’re lucky, you may be able to do a short internship as part of your degree and then also apply for a cadetship program after graduating.

Related reading: What is investigative journalism? We asked a Walkley Award winner

Traditionally, cadetships were the model that trained journalists on the job, before university degrees became the standard training model. They give young reporters a taste of different areas of a news organisation, and you can work in different beats, like court reporting, digital news, TV and radio production.

You’ll be mentored by working media professionals and get the chance to learn the ropes in a supported way. It can be an invaluable learning experience and the quickest way to find your feet in the industry.

These days, cadetships—especially at leading organisations like the ABC—can be incredibly hard to secure, so ask your tutors and lecturers how to go about applying and putting your best foot forward for these positions. 

How does an internship help you get a job?

A media internship can help give you an edge in a very crowded job market. If you’re really lucky, you may even land a position at the organisation you intern for. If not, it will still look fantastic on your resume when applying for other positions.

What do journalism interns do?

Journalism interns get an invaluable taste of what it takes to work in the media industry. Depending on your exact placement, you’ll spend your days shadowing working reporters and media pros, to see how they do their jobs.

One moment, you could be in the back of a car with a TV crew on the way to a shoot, the next, back at the editing suite watching someone cut vision, or in the studio observing a live-to-air.

Throughout your placement, you’ll get to absorb the day-to-day activity of a newsroom or organisation and observe and ask questions of accomplished media professionals. Aim to be a sponge and soak up as much information as you can!

How to get a journalism internship

If you’re studying a journalism degree, the best place to start is by asking your lecturers or tutors if they have any leads on potential internship opportunities. Your university journalism school might also have a group that posts opportunities. Keep a regular eye on that, if so.

If you want to do your own research, consider what kind of media organisation you’d be interested in working for and contact them to see if they take on interns and what you need to do to apply.

To apply, you’ll likely need to provide a portfolio of your work, so get clips together that you’re most proud of and you think best represent your skills.

If you’re not getting any leads, consider casting a wider net in your search and think about organisations that have a large in-house media team, such as a sporting club, digital publishing house or creative agency. While these are journalism-adjacent, they can still be a super useful experience and look great on your CV.

Good luck with your search! 


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