In My Opinion: Courtnay McLeod: Helping ensure internships are more than making cups of tea

I’VE seen this from all sides.

I’ve been the over-eager student desperate to impress someone, anyone, during a work placement.

I’ve also been the television presenter that has sighed (mightily) when asked to accommodate another work experience person for a few hours.

And I’ve been the university lecturer dismayed when students return from a week in the vibrant media industry only to say they’ve made the wrong career choice because it was, well, painfully dull.

From every angle, it appears that work experience doesn’t work; it doesn’t complement existing educational structure or practices, it rarely motivates or inspires, and sometimes it fails to offer a genuine insight into one of the world’s most exciting industries.

At its very worst, work experience can be a turn off. The industry can haemorrhage talent at the very point it should be embracing it.

This work experience predicament was one of the reasons I joined Bauer to lead its Scottish Media Academy.

Given its size and reputation for innovation, Bauer receives countless letters requesting work experience.

From what I’ve seen, most include the line, “I will happily make cups of tea”. This shows how low the bar is set. People don’t expect much, they don’t do much, and in turn the employer doesn’t get much.

The chance to talent spot is nil. It’s a lose-lose situation.

So, for individuals, educators and employers, work experience needs to be enhanced. Cue: ‘Go Think Big’.

It’s a joint venture between Bauer and O2 to open up, and shake up, work experience opportunities, with the intention of inspiring a generation and getting young people in to good jobs.

It all sounds very ‘worthy’ but if you look at the website you’ll see the opportunities are real. The commitment is there.

Given the academy’s objective to find and develop talent, it is now working closely with Go Think Big to provide new multimedia training events.

The first is being held at Clyde 1 in Glasgow on Sunday.

Importantly, this training isn’t only for those with a burning desire to work in the industry. Media skills are increasingly also life skills and transferable to most jobs. Media training can no longer be reserved for those pursuing a glittering career.

The Go Think Big training events have been designed by experienced academics and are being delivered within the industry by leading media professionals and lecturers.

This is the ideal combination: a real mix of theory and practice in an inspiring setting. And, yes, these sessions are free – entirely free (for more information, email here).

But let’s be honest, this isn’t entirely altruistic. Bauer is on a mission. There is talent in Scotland and Bauer will be the first to find it and the best at developing it. On lots of levels, improving work experience is just the right thing to do, even if it results in less people making cups of tea.

Courtnay McLeod is director of the Scottish Media Academy and regularly teaches broadcast journalism at various universities and colleges, with special interests in media convergence issues and broadcast writing styles.