As I approach the end of another sunny summer in Madrid interning at hellomagazine.com, I'm looking back at what I've gained from the experience and how this will benefit me in the future.
Last summer I did a social media and marketing internship. This time round I was a lifestyle intern. Aged 24, the word 'intern' is starting to wear a bit thin. I've treated it as a proper job and I think this is one of the reasons I've gained so much from it.
Let's face it, no one interns for financial kicks... never, whatever you do, calculate your hourly rate - there will be tears. So it's important to take a different approach and recognise how you benefit from the opportunity in other ways.
A key word here is experience. My portfolio of work has grown exponentially over the past three months. I've written for the travel, cuisine, bridal, fashion and health and beauty sections of the website. And writing ten plus stories per week means that I've got a fair few by-lines to my name over a cross-section of areas.
Aside from kick starting my portfolio, I've also managed to build up useful contacts within the industry. This will all stand me in good stead for when I return to the UK to start my NCTJ in a couple of weeks. The course requires me to do a work placement on Fridays for assessment and as they are happy with my work, I'll continue writing for hellomagazine.com's lifestyle sections in London.
I tend to bang on about the merits of blogging but once again my blog has come in really useful. When I arrived in June, the cuisine section of the website was undergoing some changes and content was taking a new direction. This new direction is something I've played a fundamental role in - very much helped by the fact that through my food blog, I could demonstrate previous experience as well as my greedy interest in all things food-related.
By the end of August I'll have six solid months of journalism work experience to my name which I hope will help me find a job within the industry at the end of my course.
The biggest, shiniest pearl of wisdom I've learnt at hellomagazine.com is to make use of the people around you. Day in, day out you're surrounded by your colleagues who are fountains of knowledge just waiting to be tapped into.
Make sure you ask questions, for their advice and most importantly their feedback. Part of the reason my journo skills have improved so much this summer is because from the start I asked my editor for feedback on my work. She is always more than willing to take the time to tell me how and why she has edited my work - which is exceptionally helpful - and having a few complimentary and encouraging words passed your way never goes amiss either!
As I'm returning to London to start my NCTJ as well as continuing writing for hellomagazine.com, I'll be inundated with shorthand homework and of course bombarded with invitations to red carpet events. However, I will endeavour to take time out of my jam-packed schedule to update with my progress down the journalism career path.