We spoke to a current intern at ITV, Jess Blackner, who was working in their Digital Acquisitions department. Jess had spent two years looking for the right internship and eventually landed a dream 6 month Media Internship at one of the UK's biggest broadcasters. Dealing with a range of tasks and processes, Jess was part of team that worked on assessing programmes for ITV and its associate channels.
Tell us a little about your internships, what were the main tasks you were trusted with?
Jess Blackner: A lot of what I am doing at the moment is confidential due to time sensitive information. Some of the things that I have been working on have not been released to the public yet. A lot of the time I am databasing and assisting the Acquisitions Manager with any work she has.
Much of this includes analysing material, I was lucky enough to attend the pilot screenings in May. These were where all the broadcasters review the pilots for programmes in the autumn. We get to see them and decide whether we want to buy one or not.
There are lot of forms and stages to go through if we are thinking of buying a programme. There is a lot of paper work, which wasn't something I expected. There is a lot of dealing with external companies and new software.
There was a press release today that announced the launch date of a new channel, ITV Be and there will be new programmes for that. We have to make sure each channel has enough stock with programmes that will keep people interested. So it is our job to decide which programmes best suit that, which is why we went to the pilot screenings to see what was on offer from the US.
What was the most beneficial thing you took away with you?
JB: There is an awful amount you can learn and loads of training you can do at ITV. There is a lot of support and they are concerned about your wellbeing too. They have an ITV One thing where you have access to everyone including the broadcasters and there is lots you can learn from them too.
I got the chance to use some new software that I hadn't encountered before, which was very useful as well as the use of Macs, as opposed to PCs. My time keeping has also improved massively, because a lot of the work we are doing is time sensitive. With this, your schedule soon fills up and you will have quite a few things you need to do that day.
Another thing that I've found really beneficial is the improvements made to my analysis skills. You get to watch lots of material and then review them to see if they'd be good on a certain channel. So you have to be very analytical when you watch things. I can't watch TV anymore without criticising it in my head.
What was the biggest difficulty you faced during your internship?
JB: The move was quite difficult really. I moved down to London from Nottingham. I'm quite lucky that I have had a really good team of people around me because I know that a lot of people have not had a great experience with internships and have felt left out.
There was nothing that ITV were frustrated with me about, they were all really lovely and my manager couldn't help enough. I thought they'd be demanding a lot more of me, but they were very understanding and patient.
Did you feel like a valued member of the team?
JB: Absolutely, my team are actually really lovely that makes a really big difference. It's quite laid back as well which is nice. No one made me feel like I was only there for a limited period so they didn't need to bother with me. It's very easy to feel comfortable in that environment, because nobody is dismissing you as "just an intern" and no one is frightened to help you out.
Do you feel like you gained career long skills from your internship?
JB: Alongside the career skills, I've also made loads of great connections. I've also honed my skills a bit better after leaving university. With things like researching and analysing my skills have become so much better. I was very shy at university, but now I'm much more confident and independent. This is something that I realised that I could actually do and wanted to do so that has spurred me on.
What advice would you give a student/graduate looking for a media internship?
JB: You can job search as much as you want, I spent a whole year and would sit there and do 50 applications, most of the time for roles I didn't want in the sector. But I thought I should do it anyway. I did some training at the Production Guild and undertook some basic training just to improve what I could offer. Production Guild do offer a lot, it costs but it's still relatively cheap considering what you learn.
You have to keep talking yourself up, because it does become demoralising week after week when you are looking and feel like you're getting nowhere. I'd also be wary of opportunities that require you to work for free, because a lot of them aren't very good and can take advantage.
Be proactive while you're job searching too, because the year you spend job searching doesn't appear on your CV. So I started a blog and did more photography, which impressed the interviewers at ITV. They could see that I was doing something with my time. So a creative hobby alongside, especially in media, really does help.
Use social media as well. Twitter has allowed internships to become a lot more readily available so take time to look on there. The same with LinkedIn make sure you have a profile on there for people to find you. I don't use it as much as I should but it suggests you are serious.
What advice would you give a student/graduate currently undertaking a media internship?
JB: I think because internships have a negative image so you go in thinking you're going to get all the crap jobs and you're not going to learn a lot. You get to shadow some great people and it is from them that you can learn a lot. Go for it with the training, if they offer it then really give it ago; even if it it's tech training, Google Docs or how to use your Mac better. Being somewhere like ITV, a lot of the jobs are filled internally, just because you've got an end date to your internship, doesn't mean you there won't be opportunities to stay on after that. They are training you up so they are not going to train you up well and gift you to a competitor.
In your view, how important are Internships?
JB: I think internships are really important. I think a lot of graduates are struggling and some have already got ahead by doing an internship over summer or working part time. If you can go into application processes showing you've already had a proper job then you will stand out, because employers have handfuls of CVs so they can pick who they want.
In relation to getting ahead in Media, internships are hugely important. From speaking to my colleagues most of them got into their field by knowing someone in the industry or fell into it by accident or luck, but now it is so competitive and you can see that with the amount of people who have media degrees. The amount of people that have put a lot of effort into learning as much as they can about Media and are not going to get anywhere is huge but there are just not enough opportunities.
Companies do need to utilise graduates more. There are quite a lot of people I know that have the passion and the drive that want to go somewhere in media, but they are not being given the opportunity.