At Blue Moon, we’ve always embraced the idea and practice of internships, because we believe in the value that on-the-job training delivers to promising individuals who can also teach us a thing or two!
We recently beefed up our formal internship programme, in line with the revised BBBEE Codes of Good Practice… and asked one of our new interns to keep a bit of a diary of his experience.
Here’s the first in a series of what he had to say – uncensored!
An intern’s perspective on The Moon (part 1)
My name is Njabulo Brian Thabede. I’m a Durbanite in the City of Gold, Johannesburg. I’m here chasing the dream I’ve craved and studied so hard for, for the past five years.
I have always been passionate about communication and, for as far back as I can remember, at school I was always the talkative one of the bunch. I studied public relations and, once I got the gist of the course, my dream was to be part of a communications agency.
Gearing up to enter the corporate jungle, some friends and I started profiles on job sites, uploading our CVs and looking for companies in our respective fields of study. I stumbled upon an advert from Blue Moon, a company I knew little of. I then went onto Google to see if this would be the kind of company I would want to start my career with. I was amazed.
Having sent through my CV and after waiting for two weeks with no response, I took the initiative to email and ask how the selection process was going and whether I could provide more information. A few days after that, I received the call for an interview… and without any hesitation, I headed to the big city.
I eventually got the job. I remember my stomach turning, my nose sweating and my hands shaking. I remember the arguments I had with myself, questioning whether I was ready to leave my friends and family behind and face this new world alone. I had so many questions, but I was driven by the desire to reach my dream.
At Blue Moon, in the creative department, I have the opportunity to express my creative side and discover new things. All the work that happens in this company is relatively new to me.
So what are my current challenges as an intern in a competitive and perfectionist company such as Blue Moon?
The biggest of all is to make an impact in the limited time I’ve been given. You see, as an intern, you are not really trusted to handle or deal with a lot of work; you just kind-of take work as it comes. (Even when you ask for work, other employees tell you that they don’t have much to give you – they are too busy on huge accounts to help you or to teach you things.)
However, interns should be given real responsibility, once the gerbil work is done, to gain experience juggling accounts and practising time management skills.
I wasn’t given real work right away – I had to ask for it. And I had to be determined: “I’m going up to anyone – whether it’s the MD of the company or someone else – and saying, ‘Give me work to do!'”
My boldness paid off: I am now writing blog posts, proofreading documents, going to client briefs and meetings, and researching and developing new campaign ideas.
I’m getting much more out of the experience, now. I am sure, however, to initially ask my direct supervisor for work – I don’t go over too many heads to get an assignment.
The second big challenge is that interns are expected to bring a “next generation” perspective to an office. I am often asked what young people are thinking on any given issue – as if I, with my public relations degree and nicely rounded vowels, somehow represent everyone under 35.
A director looking for new marketing ideas that tap into the zeitgeist might ask me, while I’m doing the photocopying, what the kids are excited about these days. I should know: I am an intern.
Top tips (so far)
- There are plenty of internships out there. Don’t settle for one that doesn’t match your personality. (I have a few friends who are working for companies that are very stuffy, and they just don’t fit in.)
- Your first internship may be your first chance to see how your tertiary learning applies to the real world. Capitalise on this, because it is the best way to evaluate what you’ve learned in school and what you need to learn more of. If you can walk away with that, it’s worth your time.
- I believe your internship should compensate you somehow – whether by a pay cheque, stipend, housing subsidy or other perks. A company should give you more than its name on your resume in exchange for your work. Don’t take a job unless the company is putting money behind it by paying or training you well.
- Interning should at least be a foothold in the industry you work in. To ensure this, make contacts of your co-workers. Ask questions; find out how they got to where they are and who they know in the industry. It could just land you a job.
- Expect to start evaluating your job prospects. If you keep your eyes open during the course of your internship, you’ll get to see what other people are doing. Pay attention, because that could be you in a couple of years.
For more entertaining reading, catch part two of An intern’s perspective on The Moon here.