Jessie Sharpe is a Yuin woman and UOW Bachelor of Journalism student currently undertaking an internship with the Illawarra Local Aboriginal Land Council as part of her degree.
Along with assisting the Land Council to bring their website up-to-date, Jessie’s also in the early stages of a larger journalism project aiming to collate and showcase local knowledge of the Illawarra’s natural landmarks.
“We’re going to be doing a bit of work on the importance of specific landmarks in the Illawarra. So far it’s just been finding super knowledgeable people and everyday people that have some sort of connection to landmarks, like Mt Keira.”
“I’ve found a bunch of people that I can talk to. A lot of people are really willing to help out, and most people when they find out the topic, they want to talk about it, which is really cool.”
Even though it’s still early days, Jessie’s already found value in the workplace experience from her internship that sets it apart from just classroom learning.
“There’s little skills that I’ve picked up that I wouldn’t have if I didn’t do this internship. Actually working with people from different teams that aren’t doing the same thing. You know, I want to go in-depth and talk to business students about their internship so I can write about it, but they’re busy doing things for their internship. It’s very difficult to plan time, even with [my boss] Patrick. He works for the Land Council, but he also has a job teaching, and he has kids of his own, so it’s sometimes challenging to work with people who are doing different things.
“It’s something that you don’t expect because when you do group assessments, we all have the same goal, but here the goal is for the good of the Land Council, and we all have our separate ways of going about it.”
She’s also learned that working and turning in work in a professional environment isn’t quite the same as student work and submitting assessments to be graded.
“It’s very interesting doing the process for them and not just for me or for uni. When I talk to people I say I’m an intern for ILALC, so that means I have to be professional - which I always am - but it’s a bigger responsibility. Even though it’s not a newsroom, it really is giving me the experience that I needed and that I really wanted to get out of it.”
“I have a bit of freedom, but I also have that bigger responsibility of ‘who’s seeing this?’. With assessments, they’re not always going to get seen, whereas this is the type of thing if they say yes, then it goes.”
Jessie credits WIC, and specifically our student employability and engagement coordinator Caitlin Stuart, with helping her secure her placement with the Land Council.
“There was a post on the Woolyungah Instagram page about internship opportunities, and I’d just gone through my subjects and one is specifically called ‘Journalism Internship’. So I spoke to Caitlin about it, spoke to [the Land Council], and I loved what they were doing. It’s not a newsroom, but I have the opportunity to do so many different journalistic-style things. I thought ‘You know what? I’m gonna go for it.’”
Overall the internship with the Land Council hasn’t just been something to tick a box in completing her degree, but a positive experience showing her how rewarding relevant work experience can be.
“There’s a sense of pride that I get out of it. I’m proud of the efforts that I’m putting into it more than I would be if it was just an assessment. It’s definitely making me want to work harder, which I did not expect. Obviously, I’m doing the internship subject, but I’ve put in hours outside of that. They’re doing some pretty cool things and I’m excited to help them out.”