The importance of being an intern

I am Mihaela Pavel and I study BA Animation. Last year, I had the amazing opportunity to work with Advocate Art, a company founded by a group of illustrators who liked the idea of having an agent, but not the other things that often came with that. As they work with many other companies, I have been placed as an art intern for Collaborate Agency in Worthing, doing illustration work for children's books.

Even though I am currently doing an animation degree, I felt like the job description was perfect for my set of skills. I wanted to expand my horizons and to get experience in a slightly different field. As a student, any work experience that you can get your hands on is invaluable, so don't run away from a challenge! Who knows, trying something different may even awaken a new passion in you like it did for me. I never realised before how important transferable skills are and how many career opportunities await me with the degree I have. So, if you want to see the inner workings of a leading company in your field, then the best way to do so is by taking up an internship.

How I got the internship

Many students complain about the lack of opportunities when it comes to employment, but what they don't realise is that you are the one who needs to 'hunt' for every opportunity and to keep looking, even after taking a few steps back. The University of Portsmouth does offer great career support services, but actually getting an internship or a job is entirely up to your own initiative.

At the beginning of my second year, I signed up to different newsletters and job boards at the university and I worked hard on my CV. I kept applying for as many internships and placements as possible and even though I got rejected from quite a few, that did not deter me at all.

For this internship with Advocate Art, I was lucky enough to be given full support from the University of Portsmouth, including quite substantial funding. The university encourages eager, hardworking students to find the best work opportunities, and it even offers financial support at times, so keep an eye out!

What I gained from it

Remember that in the end, it's about more than just having something to add to your CV. Being an intern means gaining hands-on experience in your industry which is invaluable. As well as the specific creative skills required in my field, I also developed team working, organisational, and time management skills, among many others.

Every employer will look for such experience once you graduate, so having this on your CV already gives you an enormous advantage over most graduates.

Therefore, my advice is to stop waiting for your future to happen, and rather make it happen!