Henry Kerstens

Internship with Consumer Affairs Victoria (Summer 2014-2015)

As an Arts/Law student majoring in Communications, I am particularly grateful to have had the opportunity to complete a communications internship at Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV). Not only did the experience provide practical insight into the previously unknown world of media and communications, but through daily exposure it also reinforced the theories studied in my course.

Henry Kerstens

During my three-months spent with CAV, I was stationed within the Education and Online Services Department. This team was responsible for maintaining CAV’s social media presence across Twitter and Facebook, as well providing strategic communications for upcoming campaigns and dealing with media issues relating to the organisation. Given the scope of this department’s mandate, my responsibilities as an intern were naturally quite diverse. While one day I could have been drafting tweets for CAV’s Twitter profile, the next I might have been helping film content for a campaign or conducting usability-testing on a new App. Fundamentally, this allowed me to appreciate the machinery of the media process from a range of different perspectives. My department’s role as creators, editors and distributors of CAV’s media meant that I was afforded unprecedented exposure to how organisations manage these different functions in dealing with their media directives.

Personally, the experience was invaluable in my own development as a communications student and aspiring communications professional. Interacting daily with audiences across social media forced me to challenge and refine my skills as an effective communicator. Strict deadlines and expectations provided a glimpse into the work ethic and dedication required to succeed in the high-paced professional world. Working alongside large teams of experienced and talented communication specialists allowed me to realise myself as a professional ‘equal’ – capable of contributing accordingly. These are just a few of the lessons that I learnt through the Arts Internship experience. Reflecting now, I can also say that it has made my subsequent studies endlessly more dynamic and engaging. Admittedly, it can sometimes be difficult to recognise how the theories learnt in class relate to a possible career outside the classroom. With the benefit of this practical experience, however, I am now more capable of identifying how these teachings apply in a professional real-world context. This realisation has been incredibly helpful in making me more assured of my career ambitions nearing the end of my degree. While an Arts degree is unique in it’s breadth and ability to be largely self-directed, I realise that these factors can also make finding graduate employment frustratingly difficult. Gaining industry-based experience in my field has not just given enlightening educational insight, but has given me a platform from which I now feel comfortable applying for jobs and entering the workforce.

Academically, completion of the 12-point Arts Internship Unit was a rewarding exercise in creative development and self-reflection. For the major assessment, students are asked to complete a report on a broader academic issue stemming from the work they undertook in their internship. I chose to explore the viability of social media as a means of communication for government organisations, using CAV as an example. As the largest piece of academic work I have ever submitted, I relished the opportunity to apply my broad research and analysis skills from university to a specifically focussed case study like this. Again, the faculty gives you broad discretion to direct the project, so you can pursue a task you feel personally passionate about. Other assessments included a unique podcast task, and a reflective journal that allowed me to arrive at many of the discoveries I have shared in this testimonial.

CAV offices

I have no hesitation in confirming that completing an Arts Internship was one of the most constructive decisions I could have made for my degree and career. The realisations I made personally, the skills I developed professionally and the lessons I learnt academically all culminated to provide one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. I encourage all students who are seeking some career direction and are looking to gain some practical industry experience to apply for these amazing opportunities that Monash offers.