When I decided to undertake an internship in the media and communication industry, I was really only doing it to benefit one person, me. I wanted to build on my skills, my network and my professional experience. Naturally, I was reluctant to the idea of working for a big corporation who would potentially be exploiting my time as slave labour. I figured, instead of working for free in a paid role, why not work for free in an unpaid role? I decided to intern at a not-for-profit organisation, essentially to kill two birds with one stone – I would be helping others as well as myself.

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Choose Somewhere You Are Passionate About

Volunteer work is scientifically proven to do wonders for your wellbeing. So if you are serious about doing communications work at a not-for-profit, choose an organisation that you can get behind and can feel good about spending your time there. Most organisations need media and communication to survive. Without this, spreading awareness or raising money for their cause would be extremely difficult. If you are unsure whether a particular organisation has a communications department, there’s a good chance they don’t. However, this is even more the reason to reach out and offer your expertise.

Resources Are Slim

If you haven’t interned before, you may be expecting your own office in a CBD high rise. At a not-for-profit, where most of the money is being directed towards the cause, state of the art facilities should not be expected. I found that the miss-matched desk chairs provided character and MS Paint was a perfectly sufficient alternative to Photoshop. You will learn to be resourceful and be challenged to make use of what you have. Where equipment may fall short, this is made up for in expertise – not-for-profits are both home to, and have connections with, some of the best in the industry. As an added bonus, they are more than likely to be genuinely nice, compassionate people. Finally, your time is valued. Rather than feeling like a burden or minion who is only given the scraps to work on, there are more opportunities to undertake work that will have a meaningful contribution to the organisation.

It’s Not Just About You

An internship at a not-for-profit is a great environment to realise your potential and feel as if you are providing invaluable services. It should not only be considered by those entering the industry, but also by established professionals who can provide existing skills and experience. In hindsight, it’s not about you, it’s about them and what you can do for their cause. If you have spare time or a drive to be a part of the wider community, you may find that an internship at a not-for-profit will also benefit you along the way.

by Hayley Andersen