Branch out from your degree area with an internship

Anniina’s internships taught her that there are more opportunities out there for her than she realised

Anniina Burgermeister - BA English and Creative Writing student

But what goes into making a podcast?

A podcast is much more than the ability to press play on the end product. There are many steps before and after that all contribute to the making of a podcast, from planning and writing all the way through to impact and evaluation.
You might think that your degree doesn’t apply to podcasting, or that you don’t have the right skills. This isn’t the case – internships are all about using your transferable skills to gain experience that will be invaluable after you graduate.
Anniina, in the second year of her BA (Hons) English and Creative Writing undergraduate degree, has completed two podcasting internships through the University’s internship schemes, giving her an insight into the podcasting process from start to finish. 
“Seeing that it’s not just for music or technical engineering students and that there’s also something for English students is great.”
A podcasting internship was the perfect way for Anniina to combine her interests with the skills that she has gained during her degree.
“I love podcasts and I thought doing something like that would be completely different because that’s not something you get to do at uni. We get to do scripts and we get to do poetry and prose, but podcasting isn’t really a thing.”

Editorial experience comes in many forms

Particularly for English students, editorial experience is considered highly sought-after and hard to come by, when in reality there are plenty of opportunities to gain experience outside of publishing houses and newspapers or magazines.
This is what Anniina discovered during her time as an Editorial and Copywriting Intern for the Culture and Heritage Exchange (CHEx) Podcast, run by the University’s very own Criminology department.  
Working with two researchers, Anniina took the information given to her and used it to create and shape a podcast structure that would be both interesting and informative for listeners. 
“The researchers did all the research and looked into different articles, the podcast guests’ studies and theses, which they sent to me and I used to make a podcast structure,” Anniina explains. “I was writing an intro and writing questions for the guests, making bullet points of what I wanted them to address in their answers, making overall points, reference lists and even content warnings, to make sure the podcast was well-structured.”
Having a degree – any degree – is said to open up 70% of job opportunities to you. But it can be difficult to know exactly what those opportunities are until you experience them for yourself. 
“It is a bit eye-opening,” Anniina says, “because I don’t have to just focus on books. I can use writing and research skills and go in a completely different direction with it and it’ll still apply.”
Getting experience through an internship allows you to explore your options before you graduate, which can help you to form your plans about the future. Anniina’s internships taught her that there are more opportunities out there for her than she realised. 
“It’s good to know that there are other options and you don’t just have to become a teacher. You can use research skills and apply them to sociology podcasts, which has been really helpful for my mindset going into third year and knowing that I’m graduating in a year.”

Taking your skillset to the next level

Internships aren’t just about putting the skills you already have to use, but about gaining new ones that will make you more appealing to employers.
Anniina’s podcasting internships haven’t just helped her to develop in the editorial and copywriting areas, they have given her experience of a professional environment and the communication and time-management skills needed to thrive in the workplace.
“I think that confidence is a big one,” says Anniina, “especially in the workplace. I hadn’t had much work experience before this apart from babysitting and working in a grocery shop during the summer, so being part of that professional office environment was something that was new to me. Having experience of how to talk with co-workers, going out for lunch with colleagues and how to operate that space was useful.”
Having the confidence to stand up and put forward your own ideas, taking initiative and developing your creative thinking are all valuable skills that can be gained through an internship. 
“It has made me proactive,” Anniina reflects. “I’d come in and suggest my ideas and we’d work together to figure out a plan. I was working together with colleagues but also being proactive and independent.”
Anniina Burgermeister - BA English and Creative Writing student

One internship, many opportunities 

During her time as an Impact and Evaluation Podcast Support Intern for Fotonow, Anniina’s work took her in a whole new direction. 
“My duties changed in the middle of the internship. What I thought my job was going to be was researching the social impact and how to do podcasts, and I did that for the first few weeks – just looking up different podcasts for inspiration.”
Then, Anniina was given the opportunity to gain experience in a completely new area. 
“I had looked into everything that they needed to know already, research-wise,” Anniina remembers, “and then my supervisor said that if I was up for it, I could start experimenting with this audio program and start learning about audio engineering. So, I went in that direction a bit more and by the end of it I was producing a podcast and looking up jingles and sound effects, editing audio files, etc.”
In the end, Anniina looks back on the experience as the most exciting part of her internship. 
“I really enjoyed the audio editing because Adobe Audition – the program that I used – costs a lot of money, and I’m not going to have the opportunity to use that unless it is for a company.”
 As many interns find, these unexpected opportunities give you a chance to branch out from your degree areas and widen your skillset. 
“Doing English, I don’t get to do a lot of engineering or technical stuff, so getting that experience and having the freedom to play around with it – they gave me a full four hours just to experiment with it and have fun – was really enjoyable. I’d already done some research, but who gets to do audio engineering just like that?”
Anniina case study - adobe software on screen
Anniina using Adobe software
Anniina case study - adobe software on screen
Anniina case study - adobe software on screen
Not only this, but Anniina’s internship with Fotonow gave her the opportunity to develop her professional network and make useful connections for after she graduates.
“I think that internships can be a really good way of getting your foot in the door for after graduation,” Anniina says, “because I’m now working with Fotonow as a volunteer and getting more work experience. They asked me to stay on if I wanted to and I said absolutely!” 
“It allows you to get a foot in the door and bond with the team – networking-wise you can make good connections and if they need someone after graduation then they already know me and I’ve already done work experience with them, so that’s really useful.”

The University of Plymouth makes it easy for you to find the perfect internship

Anniina applied for her first internship after opting to take a work experience module on her degree, unsure of what she wanted to do other than gain some more experience for her CV.
Luckily, our dedicated School of Society and Culture Industry Liaison, Lee Whittock, was on hand to help her out. 
“Lee has been a heaven-send for the applications” Anniina says, recalling his help in finding her a placement for her work experience module. “I knew that I needed a placement, but because the module didn’t start until after the application deadlines for the internships, I kind of panicked and emailed Lee asking for help. He arranged a meeting between us to go through them together and talk through what I wanted out of this and what he thought would be fitting, and he made a list of two or three internships that he thought would be good for me and said to send him my CV and cover letter so he could forward them on.”
Here at the University of Plymouth, help is available at every step of the way to make sure that you get the best out of your internship experience. 
“It made it seem easy and he made it very manageable – he really helped a lot with that process. I think having that middle person was really nice, because he finds all of these opportunities and sends them forward, which is the hardest bit.”
Beyond the application process, Anniina recalls how Lee attended the initial meetings with her for both of her internships, introducing her to the internship providers and overseeing the process. 
“It felt like we were being looked after,” Anniina says, “but not in a babysitting way, by providing us with a professional who knows what he’s doing and is able to ask the right questions about the work that we need to do.”
Support is not just available from the University, but from the internship providers. 
“Fotonow was really helpful – they have someone who coordinates placements and internships because Fotonow is so big on offering work experience, so they had one person just focusing on that outreach aspect and were very on top of it.”

The bottom line

A podcasting internship might seem like an unlikely choice for an English student, but Anniina’s story shows that anyone can take part in and benefit from an internship that they might never have considered before.
“They’ve shown me that it’s okay not to just focus on one particular direction,” Anniina emphasises, “but that you can build around your skills, especially when you’re just starting out, because there are so many different things that you can do. You can do one thing and then move onto something different. It takes the pressure off. I’d like to do more in third year.” 

Don’t get intimidated by the job descriptions. Sometimes they sound very clever, and I think ‘well I can’t do an editorial position’ or ‘I can’t do this type of work’, but when you really boil it down – which Lee was really helpful with because he was picking apart the descriptions and telling me the skills that they are looking for – you see that you can go for it. Don’t underestimate yourself and just go for it anyway, even if it sounds a bit high-brow or a bit clever.

Having completed two internships, Anniina’s top piece of advice is to have confidence in yourself when applying. 
This article was written by Aimee Whittle, BA (Hons) English and Creative Writing student, as part of her internship with the School of Society and Culture.