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The unexpected internship: from journalism to the commercial drone industry

As a student during COVID, I never thought such an economic shift could affect me so early on. But come March 2020, and every major company running an internship or cadetship program in Communication and Journalism had halted their initiative program.

I was devastated that I could not graduate in 2020 as planned and set out in my newfound career as a writer. All my university units had suddenly gone online, and my chances of entering the workforce had dwindled to non-existent.

As a Journalism major, it was hard to accept that dream cadetship programs at companies such as the ABC were no longer available. Like the job market, applicants flocked to the few internship vacancies left – fighting over what remained. I sat out a semester at university in 2020. Finding an internship had become too hard.

With help from Navitas corporate at our campus, we were enrolled in workshops designed to help us find an internship by creating stand-out resumes and gaining interviewing practise and feedback.

The position for Digital Marketing Intern at a UAV systems company called Carbonix popped up, and I applied. UAV stands for unmanned aerial vehicle, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had no prior knowledge of drones, not even as a hobbyist.

I was out of my depth when it came to drones and the UAV industry.

I prepared for the interview, relying heavily on my advertising and public relations units. I had chosen to major in journalism because I was a storyteller, and at the interview, I was able to entertain them with stories of my previous work and my encounters in life. It wasn’t the perfect formula for an interview, but I had won them over on likability, and my feedback on how I could help them with their social media engagement and manage their platforms better.

On the first day of my internship, it became clear that I was the only one in my position, and besides management, the company was mostly engineers. As an unexpected intern, I realised I had the perfect opportunity to take a product online and showcase it in ways Carbonix hadn’t been doing before. I was able to apply my skillset across their platforms and create valuable content without the background knowledge in aerospace engineering.

Navigating the corporate hierarchy was not always perfect, still, into my second month, I was sending my work directly to management and getting feedback from them for the digital marketing campaigns. As an engineering intern, I would have been expected to complete either 60 days or 400 hours but as a communication intern I had only 100 prerequisite hours. When I completed my hours, I emailed management in advance to let them know I was almost finished. For a 100-hour internship unit it was hard to imagine I would learn as much as I did.

By now, I’d managed to carve out a place at the company and a position that was exclusive to my role there. I had set up and successfully implemented SMART goals for their social media platforms, a regular content flow relevant to industrial drones and aerospace engineering, and future content.

Just before the end of year, I was offered a position to come back in January as an employee. I loved my time working as an intern, but I loved it even more when they saw how valuable I was to them long-term.

By Ave Redman