Beggars can’t be choosers. That’s the one thought that temporarily shuts down all my concerns when it comes to intern application season. Does it matter if the workplace is diverse? Does it matter if it’s paid? Does it matter if the work environment is hostile? The way I see it, I’m at the bottom. I’m the lowly intern with knowledge valuable to our future (so I’ve been told) but no status in the journalistic hierarchy and no real life experience in the work force. And, to be honest, I can’t afford to be picky when I’m up against eager, seemingly confident university students who desperately hope they’ll be the fairytale intern that gets hired.
(NTS: there needs to be a reality show about Journalism students. My class has all the makings for a reality show. There’s drama (loads of competition), tension (not a lot of internship opportunities), a vibrant city and a diverse cast with enough conflicting political views to encourage slow motion side-eyes and passive aggressive remarks in every episode. The ultimate reward: a job with a contract longer than 6 months post-internship.)
I might be costing myself an internship by writing this but I don’t want to sacrifice my authenticity. That brings me to another concern I have about fresh graduates entering the industry: whether we matter and if our voices will be heard. It’s funny how a lot of journalists and prospective employers (who come to our classes to give us speeches on the journalism industry) say, “You are the future. You have all the modern ideas so don’t be afraid to share them. Out with the old, in with the new. We’re listening!” but those same people are the ones that ask us, “Is it worth it to be so open and cost yourself a position? You might not want to say that.” But why not!? Are we only allowed to share our ideas and thoughts if they mimic the ones that have been successful elsewhere?
Jesse Brown said in an interview with Toronto Life that in Canadian journalism “there’s a sense in the press that they don’t want to start something. They want to respond to something…we should be running toward things that have not broken yet.” While reading this I felt like an old lady at church. I was nodding in agreement and felt like closing my eyes and raising my hands to the ceiling in support of his excellent judgment of Canada’s media industry. It seems we wait for things to be recognized elsewhere before we decide it’s worth investing in ourselves. We do this regularly with artists and TV shows (I wonder how long The Real Housewives of Toronto is going to last?). Mind you, I don’t expect to walk in with hardly any real world experience and have everybody listen to the ideas I have just because I’m young and hip. I expect to pay my dues and familiarize myself with the inner workings of the industry. But still, when will Canadian media decide to take risks by undergoing trial and error and actually listen to the next generation like they insist they do but really just want our followers and tech-savvy expertise?