By Edith Leung

Every summer, hundreds of journalism and communications students from different universities head into various media organizations to complete their internships.

A three-month intense training session is like being on a battlefield where you have to fight hard to be the last warrior standing – getting offered a permanent job at the company.

To win such glory, students have to prepare by reading and listening to the news, and most importantly, learning to be tough.

Warren Girard Ellis, winner of the 2010 Eagle Award for Favorite Comics Writer, once said, “You’re miserable, edgy and tired. You’re in the perfect mood for journalism.”

Like warriors fighting in a prolonged war, those who persist for a longer haul will eventually win. His words ring true because journalists need to be versatile and willing to make personal sacrifices such as being available at all hours.

But internships are valuable and allow us to get to know more about how media companies operate and help students learn whether they are suited to this career and can adapt to such tough conditions in a competitive industry.

The media industry is a small circle of professionals. So, once students make a mistake, they risk ending their career before it even starts.

I have heard of some previous interns refusing to work overtime, failing to recognize politicians or celebrities, and even peculating from the company. And of course, those students are black-listed and could never enter the journalism industry again. In short, it is just natural selection, where the stronger ones survive.

Nonetheless, students should keep in mind that they are representing the school and every single act could tarnish the university’s long-standing reputation. Editors will not coddle or cosset interns like a babysitter because news reports require accuracy and timely delivery.

Interns do not have the luxury of making mistakes, but one must learn from the missteps and never repeat them. Enthusiasm is also a key ingredient that makes you stand out from the rest.

Be tough in the line of fire or on the front lines of an event, always ask for help when in a difficult situation, read the news every day and you will be on your way to becoming a professional journalist.

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