What To Watch Out For When Doing A Creative Internship - PROGRESSING YOUR CREATIVE CAREER
What To Watch Out For When Doing A creative Internship
Fantastic, you’ve now gotten yourself your very first internship. It is important that you get most out of it that you possibly can. Throughout its duration, you may come across a few warning signs that suggest you’re not in the right place.
Firstly - Are you happy?
Are you where you want to be? Does this environment feel like somewhere where you can grow, learn and be comfortable?
Secondly - Are you being given meaningful tasks?
Some internship programs have been known to treat interns like assistants i.e. getting coffee, running errands etc. You can do this in any job but in your internship you want to be getting hands-on experience that you aren't able to get anywhere else. If you’re being treated incorrectly and not being used to your full potential reach out to your boss or supervisor and speak up about your issues and they may be able to help you resolve them. If your circumstances do not improve have the courage to say, "no, this not for me" and move on. There is no shame in moving on if the internship or environment is not working for you. Your time is too precious to waste.
Thirdly - Are you being compensated?
Now, not all internships will pay you - in fact, in my experience, most don't pay you at all - but they should be able to offer you some form of compensation, whether that be a free lunch every once in a while, transport passes or, at the very least, credit for your work.
Let me tell you a story from early on in my creative career; I was doing an internship as a photography assistant at an events company in Melbourne. We were covering a prestigious international horse racing event, 'The Melbourne Cup'. I was tasked with shooting photos in the VIP areas, the finish line and the Bird’s Cage.
Leading up to the event it was of my belief that I was being paid, but a few days before, the lead photographer informed me that I wasn't. I pushed back on this matter, due to the high status of this event. I was young but knew an event of this magnitude would come with a healthy pay cheque and, as I was going to be doing as much work as everyone else that was being paid, I thought it was only fair that I be compensated as well. The photographer went on to tell me that he had tons of people who kill to be in this position and that I should be thankful for the opportunity (I should have known that things weren't going to go well from here).
Undeterred, I showed up to the event and shot the photos. At the end of the day, the lead photographer who had organized for me to come down took my memory card and loaded all of my photos onto his computer. He assured me that I would be credited for any of the photos he used. A few days went by and the exact photo I had taken appeared on the winning trainer's official website, no credit for me though. Annoyed at this, I emailed the photographer and asked what the deal was?
He first stated that the photo was was his. I then proceeded to show him a photo of the exact image on the back of my camera. He then told me that it was my fault, for not naming the file with my name in the metadata, even though he had taken the files directly from the camera before I had even got a chance to place them onto my computer and into Lightroom to put my trademarks and copyrights in the metadata. He then backtracked and assured me that he would fix it up. A few hours went by and then, on his photography events company’s Facebook page, he put up an album saying Melbourne Cup 2013. He had put up a few images of mine that had his watermark plastered all over them and then he credited me in the album description on Facebook! Not on the actual famous Melbourne Cup winning horse trainer’s website.
It was at this point that I evaluated my situation:
Was I happy? No.
Was I somewhere I could learn and grow? No.
Was I being fairly compensated? No.
I then professionally thanked him for the opportunity and informed him that I would no longer be participating in his ‘program’. Like I said earlier, it’s important to know when you are being taken advantage of and it is important that you have the strength within yourself to know when to walk away. Your time is precious and you do not want to waste it.