By David Perell
The media landscape is a competitive one. Large news publications like Time Magazine, the New York Times and USA Today have struggled to adapt to the digital landscape due to legacy business models built for analog distribution systems. The combination of esteemed reputations and cost cutting measures including layoffs make it increasingly difficult for students to find internships.
Fortunately, smaller, resource constrained startups are on the rise. The media world never sleeps. All pieces of a media business require thorough upkeep from the day-to-day grind of journalism to trying to meet ad inventory guarantees. The unwavering grind of media startups is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for proactive internship seekers.
Small media companies do not have the resources to actively recruit interns. As a college student, it is your responsibility to make a connection with the company, stand out as a candidate and prove yourself. Each step requires a significant time commitment that should be justified as an investment in your future.
Step 1: Stand out by maintaining an active and professional Twitter account
Twitter is a hub for journalists, entrepreneurs and professionals in the tech industry. It is the best way to engage directly with C-Level executives, startup founders and respected journalists. Twitter is a place to grow your brand, connect with the companies you seek to impress and identify trends in an industry. Actively engaging with professionals on the service is an unparalleled opportunity for networking and learning.
My advice: Follow journalists, analysts and other college students who share your passions. Do not follow major brands because you will not be able to connect with them directly. Big brands receive thousands of social media mentions per day, most of which are ignored.
Instead of reaching out to brand accounts, focus on connecting with your favorite journalists, social media managers and lower level employees who can advocate for you.
Step 2: Publish on Medium
The community of media and technology professionals publishing on Medium is unprecedented. Medium profiles link directly to a user’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. Medium’s most influential users leverage their existing networks to “go viral” and build their brand on the website. With one viral post, an industry professional reading an industry blog in their free time may discover you.
Additionally, Medium is easier to use than Weebly, WordPress or any other content management system.
Step 3: Establish strong connections with adults
I cannot stress this one enough. Throughout life, you never know whom you will see again and who will prove to be important. The people you will meet on Twitter may someday help you find an internship or a job later in life. The golden rule is to treat new connections like they are your
friends instead of professionals in the industry who can get you an internship. Nobody likes to feel used, but everybody enjoys helping people they care about. Establish a friendship, learn and engage.
These tactics helped me receive two internships. I applied for my internship with Skift after seeing a tweet on my Twitter feed. I replied immediately, interviewed with the company twice over Skype and received an opportunity as their first intern within a week. Today, they are the largest industry intelligence and marketing platform in travel, providing news, information, data and services to all sectors of the world’s largest industry.
I received my second internship by texting a friend who worked at Intent Media as their Director of Global Talent Acquisition & Human Resources. I met Ash while I was traveling to Canada during the summer of 2013. We met at an airport restaurant when he worked for Facebook. We exchanged phone numbers, connected on Facebook and I received a tour of Facebook one month later.
My connection with Ash is one of friendship before networking. Become close friends with any professional you meet and build rapport with them before asking them for help. Most professionals have connections but will only use them when a relationship has been established. Ash is still a very close friend of mine.