Celebrating Stepping Stones
Learning is never confined to the four walls of a classroom but surrounds everyone on a daily basis. There is always something to learn from the multiple connections we make and the interactions we have with people, as it shapes us in various ways. On the 26th September 2019, Journalism, PR, and Advertising students at Middlesex University Dubai all came together to celebrate their summer achievements at the second annual internship achievement ceremony.
One of the guest speakers was Omar Qirem, CEO of Edelman Dubai and Chairman of the PRCA MENA, who initially started as an intern for the British Government. The way internships worked back then was completely different than how they do now.
Omar explains that he started off his first job 20 years ago by ‘cutting out newspaper articles, getting a glue stick, putting them on a piece of paper and faxing it to government ministers’.
To some, that sounds absurd, especially due to the technological revolution but it just shows how many opportunities we all currently have. I bet most of you students reading this haven’t even dealt with dial-up!
The three main things that Omar advises students to do are:
Firstly, read the newspaper daily – always keep yourself updated with the world that surrounds you and expose yourself to new discoveries.
Secondly, get a mentor – it is important to be able to acquire feedback and direction from someone who is a professional within the industry as it helps you evolve and grow whether it is professionally or personally.
Lastly, be passionate about communications!
The panel discussion, moderated by journalism lecturer Mark Lomas, invited three Middlesex University Dubai alumni back, to share their experience of working in the ‘real world’ for a year. This was a great opportunity for current students to see how these three wonderful ladies have made it and what they have gone through to make it all happen. Sometimes professors can constantly push you to go for internships but when you hear how important they are from a graduate, it adds a completely different spin to the whole conversation.
One of the topics discussed was how to approach an employer about making the shift from being an intern to becoming a full-time employee. Granted, all three speakers believed it is a difficult conversation to have but one that must be pushed forward. Jecinta Wangui, Assistant-Editor Director at KidzBlog, shared how she achieved this.
“So I made a list of responsibilities, how I am able to deliver, what I am responsible for and justified it. The entire idea is to show what your added value and contribution to the company is. You cannot merely say that you have spent 6 months there and need a job now. You need to show you have spent quality time and show that the skills you provide are valuable to the company. Ultimately you need to convince them that you are an asset to the company and be able to set yourself apart from others” Jecinta explains.
Another hot topic that was discussed was the whole ‘paid versus unpaid internships’ debate. Shraddha Sundar, PR and Marketing Executive at Aster Hospitals, said that ‘students should not feel entitled to pay just because they are putting in that 9-5 job. As an employer you see students coming in there to learn and that they’re not coming in with bags and bags of experience, so why should employers pay you so much?’
Jecinta explained that when she started at ARN (Arabian Radio Network), she had no prior radio experience and she expressed that it would not make sense for them to pay her. Sometimes internships are worth doing, despite not being paid, because it works like a second university, where you are able to gain knowledge, learn new skillsets, and acquire feedback from industry professionals, which helps you grow in the process.
The entire dialogue changes when interns do have a year or so of experience to back up their capabilities. It was concluded by all three speakers that students should be given payment for the minimum – transport and food, but ideally, they need to be paid for the amount of experience and value that they bring into the company.
One of the most exciting things about working at Grayling as a Junior Account Executive for Joann Joseph is the people that she gets to meet. Joann says, “it is really important to work with people that make you feel comfortable and welcome”.
Here is some feedback from our students about their summer internships:
Name: Maheshpreet Kaur Narula
Placement: City 101.6 with ARN
Duration: 2 months
“City gave me a chance to apply what I’ve learnt and pick up new skills like video editing, audio editing, interviewing and creating content for radio. What made this internship different though was the amount of fun I had! I would wake up at 4:30 am every day, come in by 6 am and yet I loved it because of the people, the show and the sunrises. Massive shoutout to Malu, Sid, Pari, Loki, Ollie and Eisha who made this internship my favourite.”
Take a look at how one of Maheshpreet’s workdays looks like:
Name: Melina Serrao
Placement: Weber Shandwick MENA
Duration: 3 months
“My experience was filled with a lot of learning, growing and developing both personally and professionally. My tasks involved researching and providing detailed analysis on findings, producing comprehensive and traditional coverage reports on a weekly basis, crafting documents and tailored media lists for client briefings and tracking secured coverage for global clients such as Netflix, McDonald’s, Nespresso, Uber, Dyson, MasterCard and TikTok”
Name: Sukayna Kazmi
Placement: Khaleej Times
Duration: 6 months
“Working life is exciting and fun at times but there are challenging moments too. When you have never worked before, you don’t really know what sort of obstacles may come your way and sometimes they take you by surprise. However, it is these very challenges that mould you, make you grow and develop as an individual. They teach you a lot of essential skills that will be quite valuable once you start working full-time. Work-life brings a lot of responsibilities and independence. There is a lot expected from you in a working environment but through experience, you will learn to meet those expectations. Work-life may not have been what I had expected, but after working in Khaleej Times for 6 months (this being my first job ever), it really gave me a whole lot of experience, lessons, and guidance that will help me prosper in the coming years.
Name: Aya Rabie Fahim Aly
Placement: ItsHerWay (Startup)
Duration: 3 months
“What I’ve learned during my summer internship was the importance of aiming higher; to create content that stands out and to reach my goals no matter the circumstances. I’ve learnt things that I never imagined I can do, and I realised I’m capable of so many things, in which I was able to connect with other industries and learn more about their experiences. Communication and curiosity is key. I never want to stop exploring and learning – it’s a journey in life.”
Name: Kritika Gulwani
Duration: 3 months
“During my summer break, I got the opportunity to work with Noon, as a Business Development Intern. My 3-month experience at Noon has been very rewarding and I got to work hands-on on the newest product of Noon. The team also helped me gain valuable insight into the digital payments industry as well as enhance my existing range of skills and knowledge.”
Name: Anamika Prem Kumar
Duration: 3 months