Science journalism intern Rockwell shares his experience of learning by doing and what he discovered during his internship at Refraction Media.
I’ve spent the last month as a science journalism intern here at Refraction Media, and it’s been a pretty fascinating experience.
I’m about half way through a Masters of Science Communication at the University of Western Australia, which you might notice, is on the opposite side of the country to Refraction’s office in Sydney. I was lucky enough to get my expenses covered by a travel award from the university, and doubly lucky to have supervisors who would tolerate me putting a massive hole in my Master’s project timetable to be here.
Refraction is a small company, and an unbelievably busy one. I was thrown into the middle of everything. On my first day I was uploading to Refraction’s Careers with STEM site. By my second day, I was editing articles and profiles. Day three, I was elbow deep in writing and building a brand new maths quiz. And that pace pretty much kept up the entire month I was here.
Which might all sound a bit chaotic, but it’s pretty much exactly what I wanted. Working in a real media company is completely different from studying, and there are some skills you just can’t pick up until you’ve practised them. Plus, the vibe was excellent – the feedback was constructive, everyone was really supportive, and to top it off, the office is in the middle of a really chill coworking space.
Here are three skills I’ve learned as a science journalism intern at Refraction Media:
Convincing an editor to accept your article isn’t something I’d ever been taught to do, and it can make or break you as a journalist. Rather than being given fully fleshed out assignments, Heather and the team gave me a general idea of what they wanted, and got me to pitch my angle for the article back to them fully developed. Working through developing my own angle for a story and getting feedback on it was an awesome learning experience.
While I’ve been here I’ve interviewed everyone from kids to professors. I’ve organised formal media interviews over the phone, and just wandered around stopping people and asking them questions at events. I’ve learned that the worst thing that could possibly happen is that your subject politely say ‘no thanks’, but that most of the time people really, really love to talk about themselves and what they do.
Refraction do a little bit of everything, and I feel like I learned a lot about how the publishing industry works just by listening. It helped that I was invited to meetings, and not just to sit in, but to contribute. Because Refraction always has a couple of projects on the go at once, even though I haven’t been here very long I’ve now seen every stage of the publishing process happening around me.
I’ve been at Refraction a month, and I feel like I’m only getting started. I never felt like ‘just’ the intern. I got great feedback, great practice, and I met some great people along the way. It’s been an absolute blast, and I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to take the opportunity to work here again.
– Rockwell McGellin
To find out more about internships at Refraction Media, click here.