The idea of applying for an internship with Zahra Media Group was first presented to me by my friend, John Connell. We were fishing on a lake in Longford, the sunset had cast the surrounding countryside in an orange shade and seemingly wild horses were galloping through the fields behind us. It would have been an idyllic scene if I hadn’t been clumsily assaulting the lake with a rod while swearing at the no-show fish. Some months before I had mentioned to John my interest in exploring the field of publishing, and every so often he would send me a job or internship ad. He mentioned that he had spotted another one I might be interested in. The first thing that struck me about it was the range of skills I was expected to have, and that I’d have an opportunity to develop. “Sure, all they can do is say no,” he reminded me.
What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word “intern”? Probably a bright-eyed recent graduate scurrying around the workplace making teas or coffees while looking alternately perplexed and anxious. While it’s certainly true that internships are primarily the domain of young graduates seeking work experience, they’re also on the rise among less traditional categories. More and more people who have been out of the workforce for some time, owing to illness, child raising or for personal reasons, are opting for so-called “returnships” as a way of becoming reacquainted with their field. An intern may also be seeking an escape from an unfulfilling job and hoping to strike out on a new career path.
After completing my master’s degree, I had many options to consider, and I won’t deny the range of possibilities was a little paralysing. I had become a bit of a bookish hermit during my BA. By the time I completed my master’s degree I was fuelled mostly by caffeine and a burning desire to consume more and more texts. I needed to broaden my perspective and gain more experience. I tried to diversify my skills by studying foreign languages, receiving a teaching certification, volunteering at several institutions, travelling whenever possible and, finally, participating in internships.
If you have the time, energy and resources, I can recommend an internship to anyone seeking to enter a new field and gain more experience. Of everything I’ve done since leaving university, they’ve been the most rewarding and educational. My time at Zahra will be coming to an end soon. I’ll be moving on to The Lilliput Press in Dublin next week, but I have no doubt that the experience I’ve gained at Zahra will be useful to me there. It was certainly useful during the interview, seeing as I could now discuss my “extensive knowledge” of InDesign, social media management, proofreading, editing and a host of other skills acquired at Zahra.
When I first started fishing, I’d strike out with my rod and the line would fall just a few feet from the shoreline or go astray and land far from its intended target. With a few hours practice, however, I was able to cast the line more and more accurately until I was reeling in bountiful catches. Admittedly I was only catching pondweed, but, hey, it was more than when I started. I suppose there’s a lesson about perseverance in there somewhere, but I don’t feel qualified to dispense much wisdom until I’ve actually caught a fish!