The internship story

Sometimes, when one door closes, another door opens.

I had been a volunteer at the local art gallery for well over a year. I worked on the front desk greeting visitors, answering questions and processing sales in the shop. The gallery is an amazing place to be, and all of the staff are absolutely lovely. But I was beginning to feel like I could get more from the experience.

My interest in public relations led to some opportunities with the marketing team which I seized with both hands. I helped out with some media monitoring. I even wrote a press release. And then:

“We have a project for you…”

I was going to independently research how the organisation could raise its profile with local university students. Research! My favourite thing! I was stoked.

The gallery suggested that I try to turn it into an internship. I was doubtful that it would work, but they insisted so I emailed a name at Deakin that I had heard in connection with internships for Public Relations.

“I have this opportunity… It wouldn’t work as an internship, would it?”

To my surprise, the reply came:

“Of course. Great. Brilliant. Here’s how to start. Here’s what you have to do. Here’s where to enrol…” 

OK, an internship. I wasn’t planning that. Even better.

A week or so later, I sat down at the gallery for a chat.

“We’re sorry, but we’ve been a bit too optimistic. We don’t have the time to give an intern the attention they deserve.”

The whole project was dropped.

Of course I was disappointed. But I also understood. The gallery has a very small staff, and a lot of big projects coming up. I was grateful for the initial enthusiasm and the time they had been willing to invest in me so far.

So no internship then. OK.

I spoke to my contact at Deakin, explained the situation. I said:

“Don’t worry, I didn’t really plan on an internship anyway. Nothing lost. Thanks for your time.”

About a week later, I receive an email. It’s from the internship coordinator.

“Hi Kathlene, Thanks for keeping me in the loop. I know you said you weren’t really looking for an internship, but…”

The project placement he suggests is perfect.

Firstly, because it includes so many of my favourite topics: Australian history; democracy, civics and citizenship; museums, exhibitions and public spaces.

Secondly, my academic achievements fit this position like a glove:

  • An (almost finished) Bachelor of Arts with majors in Australian Studies and Public Relations
  • A Graduate Certificate in Liberal Arts (Museums & Collections)
  • A Bachelor of Education

Thirdly, the work suits me down to the ground. It’s analytical, requires attention to detail,  critical thinking, and a little bit of creativity. I get to work independently for long stretches of time, but I am also a part of an enthusiastic team.

Fourthly, I will be working for the Victorian Government, and (perhaps it’s my Canberra upbringing) I have always imagined I would one day join the public service.

In short, I am now a research assistant at Parliament of Victoria. I am working with a small team to write and present an exhibition on the period between 1901 and 1927 when Federal Parliament ‘borrowed’ Parliament House.

Every day I get to comb through library catalogues, browse Trove and sift through photos and documents that are over a century old. I do a whole lot of reading and quite a bit of writing. It’s like a dream come true.

And all because another interesting project didn’t quite work out.


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