Will Peach is one of the site editors over at Gap Daemon, the gap year travel community website for backpackers and gap year travellers that I’m also working for.
Breaking into the travel sector as a budding young writer or editor can be tough. Securing an internship is the first step on the ladder. But once you’re in how you can take it that one step further?
These ten tips can help you land a job in the travel. It’s doesn’t matter how long, how short or how much blood and sweat your internship is either!
Prepare With Care
After securing your post and getting the green light it’s time to go into preparation mode. Ask yourself what you want to get out of the position but bear in mind that a job might not always be possible. But remember: that doesn’t mean you can’t utilize the opportunity.
Draft up a list of goals. This might be a certain number of contacts or a certain number of published pieces. Fix a tangible goal in your mind, commit it to writing and review it every morning before you check in. You’ll be surprised just how much energy and motivation this can give you.
Show Your Passion
Ultimately it’s passion over skills that will help land you a job in the travel sector. Show yours from the get-go and get in the hearts and minds of your co-workers and contacts.
Draft a list of questions or knowledge points that you have about the sector. Carry these with you and ask the supervising editor or the freelance writers for their take. Make sure your tactful though and do this at lunch, outside of work or just limit it to one at a sensible time (an email perhaps). The last thing you want to do is distract them from essential and immediate work.
Identify a Mentor
Finding a mentor within the travel sector is essential to success. Admit that you don’t, nor will you ever, know everything. Nurture a mentor-student relationship with someone in the trade. It doesn’t have to be with someone within your internship, it could well be with a contact you make along the way.
Charm them well and take them with you outside of the internship should nothing result. Not only will this open you up further to connections and contacts but you’ll also learn a lot too. Ask them nicely for Skype or email progress checks and pick their brains!
Network Like Never Before
As you work within your internship you should constantly be keeping an Excel spreadsheet of contacts you make along the way. Record names, companies, titles, email addresses and the ways you first came into contact.
Network as much as you can. Ask your intern supervisor to take you to trade meet-ups. Ask them for people to contact. Ask them which pubs the travel crowd hangs out in. Never, ever, stop asking.
Be a Lynchpin
This goes for all internships not just travel. Be a lynchpin. Identify opportunities don’t just wait for your supervisor to hand you stuff.
Due to the junior nature of the role they probably won’t expect much of you. That’s why its crucial you demonstrate that you can handle responsibility. Look at ways the company can reach out. Do they have a Facebook fan page? Are they following up with blog commentators? Could they better the copy on company landing pages?
Deliver solutions. Deliver ideas. Don’t be timid.
Build Your Brand
A travel internship will provide you with opportunity to put your name out there, no matter how junior you are or how low the organisations expectations.
Build yourself a webpage. Work the URL into your email signature within the company system. Link your companies social network channels to your site or social networking profiles (especially if you have some control over them). If you can get away with tweeting or posting your own work from their accounts, then by all means do it!
Direct each contact you make within your internship to your personal brand. Working for free? The company has no right to stop you!
Build Your Portfolio
No matter what the role of your internship is you’ll always have an opportunity to work on meaningful pieces. If they don’t come your way it’s up to you to ask for them.
Get lucky and put the work into your portfolio. Don’t get anything come your way? Then focus on re-writing company material, seeking to improve it and filing it in your portfolio. If you followed the steps before and your portfolio is online then all the better!
Have An Exit Plan
Sometimes internships don’t work out, especially in the travel trade given the matter of competition and the economy. But by having an exit plan you can increase your chances of finding work off the back of it.
That list of contacts? That portfolio you built? Tie them in. Go through the list and tell people what you did and that now you’re available, all the time keep drawing them back to examples of the work you did.
Pitch to these contacts and offer the services and the skill-set the internship helped build. Even if they’re not forthcoming there must be something you can do well for free which can turn into paid work later.
Maximise Your Job Chances
Rule number one of facing the end of your internship: ask about the potential of staying on. If you’ve taken the steps outlined and shown great worth the company won’t be in any rush to lose you.
If it doesn’t work out then make sure you update your portfolio and your branding channels to reflect the fact you’re now available and searching for work. If people still think you’re busy they’re not likely to ask.
Enjoy the Experience
The last and perhaps most important tip? Make sure you enjoy your travel internship. Treat every day as an opportunity and as a chance to learn. Working in travel is fun!
Travel internships, either in editorial or travel writing, are pretty difficult to find, not only because they’re so competitive but also because not many companies offer them. If you’re looking to break into travel writing, why not check out Gap Daemon’s Travelling Intern Program. I really wish this had been around when I was travelling as you can earn up to £1,000 for your writing.
Have any of you snagged a job in travel editorial off the back of an internship?
Friday 16th of December 2011
No probs Will, thanks for all your advice, it's all really helpful. I think you've covered all bases here, hopefully at the end of my Gap Daemon stint I'll have some more tips to add.
Will - My Spanish Adventure
Thursday 15th of December 2011
Thanks for letting me write for your site! I'm wondering how your internship is going? Any other pointers you can add to the mix?