Hot Topics: On the Internship Front
‘Tis the season. No, not that season. It’s internship season. And, especially for journalists, financial worry season. I only say “especially for journalists” because we are essentially required at such a young age to get them and so many are unpaid. For some people, that’s alright. They move back in with their parents for the summer and do an internship for the local paper of NBC affiliate. For the rest of us, though, we have things to pay for: rent, groceries, bills. Most students even have loans to worry about.
Unpaid internships are nice if the company houses you in a fully-stocked intern house. But I’ve yet to see that option anywhere except California, and those are the most competitive positions. However, most unpaid internships provide you with nothing except “the experience of the trade”.
Now, I don’t discriminate when it comes to internships. I have had one of each so far and, while I did enjoy my paid internship, I have gained the most from my unpaid one with Racer X Illustrated.
I’ve been asked many times exactly how I got that internship. Some people think that I had to go through this rigorous process of written applications and interviews, while others seem to think that I was contacted to be an intern by the guys at Racer X. I wish the latter was true. But, unfortunately, it isn’t. The summer before I started college, I started looking at what I wanted to do with my life. I knew that I would need more professional experience than my personal moto blog, MX Insight, but I wasn’t quite sure where.
Once classes started, I was really inspired to start contacting people. I actually went to Transworld Motocross first in hopes of scooping up an internship position. I had grown up reading Transworld Snowboarding and, though it is corporate owned, it seemed like the guys at TWMX had the most fun, laid-back environment. In short, I emailed the lady who was supposedly in charge of all the hiring and stuff a grand total of four times, all within the span of two months. She didn’t get back to me. Ever.
With that company off the list, I really had three other options that would be acceptable for me.
- Vurb Moto – Though I really felt like Vurb was more of a multimedia-based establishment, it was on my list. I really liked (and still like) its up-to-date vibe and interactivity and all of their features were (and still are) really unique and interesting. But, because of the multimedia nature of the site and my limited amount of time that I would be able to give, I saved them as a later contact.
- Don’t Get an Internship - Though I really wanted to start on the rest of my life early and get an internship, I knew it wasn’t necessary until summer. I could go through my first year of college easily without an internship. But I really just didn’t want to do this. I was too excited to start working to just stop looking. Plus, I had this feeling that if I got started now, I would gain enough experience in the industry by the time I graduated to ensure me a job somewhere.
- Racer X Illustrated – This was the long shot in my book. Racer X is really known as the ESPN of moto news. I mean, they have essentially the most prominent staff in the moto media industry. It was intimidating to even think about contacting them, let alone possibly working there. But I really liked their work. Very professional, very race-based, and most of all, very rider-oriented.
So I ended up emailing Bryan Stealey, the president of Filter Publications (the company that publishes Racer X Illustrated), inquiring about internships. He told me that the company doesn’t have a formal internship program, but that I should send him some of my clips anyway and we might be able to work something out. Then, before I knew it, I was the one and only intern at Racer X.
My experience with Racer X so far has been unbelievable. I’ve not only done the basic intern work, but I’ve also been published both online and in the magazine. I’ve had the opportunity to interview some of the top riders in the sport and form connections that, let’s be honest, I wouldn’t have been able to form otherwise.
My tip for people looking for interviews is simple. Even if the place you want to work doesn’t list any open opportunities for internships, still email somebody at the company. Tell them you’re interested. If they say that there aren’t any openings at the time, just tell them you’d like to stay updated on when opportunities do become available. Then, keep in contact with that person. Send them a message wishing them a Merry Christmas or a Happy Easter. Be sure they remember your name so when they do decide to bring on an intern, your name is already in their minds.
With Racer X, they didn’t have any information on internships. There wasn’t even a section saying whether they took on interns or not. But I still emailed and look where I am! Contact is your friend. Don’t ever let the lack of information on a website stop you from trying.