Amanda, 21, grew up in Hertfordshire, UK, and chose to pursue an MA in journalism in Australia. Her jobs in Australia included reporter – intern positions at The Illawarra Mercury in Wollongong and B Magazine in Sydney.
What job were you doing?
Reporter – Intern
Why did you choose to work there?
I was living in Wollongong at the time and the regional newspaper The Illawarra Mercury was based there. My journalism tutor suggested I apply for an internship there so I did. By doing an internship it meant that I studied less courses for my MA.
How did you find the job (website, paper, etc.)?
I moved out to Australia to do a MA in Journalism. Part of the MA involved an internship at a regional daily newspaper. In my interview the editor asked which area of reporting I was least interested in and I told him sports. This probably wasn’t the best answer for a “pommy Sheila” to give a redneck newspaper editor and on my first day I was thrown in the deep end as he handed me a cricket story. It might sound macabre, but I was relieved at lunchtime when I was sent to cover a drowning story. That story made the front page, while my cricket report was on the back.
What was your day to day routine?
I started work in the office at 9 am. I was given press releases to follow up in the morning and often had to write up sports stories and correct badly written ones. This was a challenge for someone who did not know the difference between rugby union and rugby league. I normally asked my sports crazy friend if he could sense check it before I submitted it. In the afternoon I’d go out with a photographer to cover a story. This was the best part of the day as I got to see a lot of the NSW coastline and countryside. I’d have small stories to write like interviewing a local artist but bigger responsibilities such as covering the education supplement. I’d go to local schools and interview the teachers and kids and write up different aspects of the school which I really enjoyed. Each day at the newspaper was different and I covered everything from the war on terror to swimming galas.
What was the salary like?
As I was on a student visa and the work was part of my degree programme I was not paid but the experience was invaluable and when I finished my newspaper internship I moved to a second internship at a magazine in Sydney – the freebies were great! (Learn more about working in Sydney Australia here)
Is accommodation included if not, is there accommodation locally and do you know what’s the cost?
I shared a flat with a friend while I was doing my MA and working. A two bedroom flat (one street away from the beach) with a balcony with a sea view cost me about £65 a week!
Would you recommend this type of job? Do you feel this experience will help you with your career?
There aren’t too many places where you can lie in the sun sipping award-winning Shiraz whilst writing up an interview, but Australia is one.
Although I was not paid for the work, if you are abroad and have the time, or are studying abroad internships or work experience is invaluable. I would not have been given such an opportunity here in the UK and since returning I have edited 5 magazines, interviewed Jean Christophe Novelli, have been published and more importantly paid on several occasions. The work I did in Australia started off my portfolio, gave me a good grounding in all aspects of journalism and when I returned to the UK freelance commissions soon followed.
What’s the night life like?
Wollongong was a small student town about one hour from Sydney which has a great nightlife although a little more expensive on a student/intern budget. Don’t forget your ID security have been known to ID 40 year olds even though the drinking age is 18!
Are there other things to do like sports/beach/tourist attractions?
Where do I start? If you like sports you can’t beat Australia. The beaches are also amazing and Wollongong is a top surfing destination. Sydney has all the usual offerings with my favourite hangouts being The Rocks and Darling Harbour, Manley and Palm Beach for scenery and the George Street for shopping.
What’s so good about working out there?
There was not the long hour’s culture as in the UK – people actually want to leave the office. Although I was an intern most reporters worked 9 to 5 and at the magazine it was a relaxed dress down culture.
Do you plan to work abroad again (or have you since you worked there)?
Yes, I would love to return to Australia to work in journalism or marketing. I’d also like to set up a hotel or spa in Australia or SE Asia, if I had the money and some helpers!
Out of interest did you go to College or Uni in the UK?
I graduated with a 2:1 in media studies and Swedish from UEA where I’d spent three years writing for the student newspaper Concrete and enrolling on every available photography and writing course. After graduation I knew I wanted to study journalism and I wanted to go to Australia, and thought: why not combine the two?