Master of Journalism student Bec Zajac completed an internship with the ABC's 7:30 program.
The former Director of the Centre for Advancing Journalism, Dr Margaret Simons, informed Masters students that she had secured four intern spots at the ABC's 7:30 program, and invited those interested to apply. She then short-listed candidates and asked them to forward on their CV's to 7:30. Later that week, the Bureau Chief at 7:30 got in touch and asked me if wanted to come and intern later that year.
My first day at the ABC was actually the day the "Sydney Siege" took place. Given the story was being covered nonstop by all national networks, it was incredible to witness how 7:30 worked under pressure to cover the issue in a thoughtful and nuanced way. During those first few days, as well as working on a story about the role of social media in the siege, "Social media and Sydney siege - from rumour mill to terrorist tool to unifying force", I assisted reporters on an interview with Peter Costello for a story on tax reform, "Peter Costello cautions against major tax reform as Government prepares for debate", an interview with Tim Costello for a story on foreign aid cuts, "MYEFO: $10 billion deficit blow-out but surplus on it's way says Government", and an interview with analysts about the cabinet reshuffle, "PM Abbott hopes to reset the government with a cabinet reshuffle".
The highlights of my internship were being able to work on news packages from start to finish and to see stories develop from ideas to finished pieces on a whole range of topics. During my month interning I was a part of this process for stories about the resurgence of Dungeons and Dragons, "Game of Thrones with dice - Dungeons and Dragons fantasy role-playing game gets new life", the power of online citizen detectives, "Citizen detectives take on the cases they think authorities neglect" and the Asian Cup in Melbourne, "Australian soccer's chance to shine as Asian Cup hosts comes with pressures". It was great to see what a collaborative process news making is at 7:30 and to watch what are disconnected threads of a story in the morning turn into a tightly knitted narrative by the evening. It was also wonderful to see that the skills I'd attained during my degree such as researching, interviewing and writing were useful in a real-world context.
Throughout the internship, I definitely felt like I was using the skills I'd learnt during my degree in the real world. During my degree, I think I've really sharpened my news sense, learning to spot when a story is newsworthy and learning how to cover it in a way that pushes the story forward. This was useful when I was pitching ideas or researching stories for the program. During my degree, I've also learnt how to get my head around an issue in a short amount of time and how to find sources for a story and conduct interviews to get important information under deadline pressure. All these skills came in handy when I was helping out with research, sourcing interviewees and pre-interviewing talent for news packages.
Advice for future interns
Don't feel like you need to be a journalist with a decade of experience to contribute to the work at the organisation. They know you're learning, they will give you work you're capable of completing and they will really appreciate the work that you do. Also, be patient; don't push yourself onto a story but always be ready to make yourself available for whatever is needed. Also, if you have nothing to do, always stick your hand up to help out with research or just start researching something you’ve heard being talked about. You never know when it might come in handy!
Visit the Master of Journalism web page