Internships: valuable work experience or glorified volunteering? 

Before you go chasing an internship hoping for on-the-job training, there are many factors to consider.

Internships can be helpful if you’re starting out in your early-career path, particularly if they offer you genuine workplace experiences or a chance to get a foot in the door of your industry.

However, the possibility of exploitation is something to be mindful of when considering interning in your chosen field.

Here, we speak with two past participants about their experiences interning in the writing and visual arts sectors. We also hear from Carol Mackay, part of the Internships Change Management Group at Never Not Creative. She offers an important perspective for would-be interns and employers alike.

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Thuy On is the Reviews and Literary Editor of ArtsHub and an arts journalist, critic and poet who’s written for a range of publications including The Guardian, The Saturday Paper, Sydney Review of Books, The Australian, The Age/SMH and Australian Book Review. She was the books editor of The Big issue for 8 years. Her debut, a collection of poetry called Turbulence, came out in 2020 and was released by University of Western Australia Publishing (UWAP). Her second collection, Decadence, was published in July 2022, also by UWAP. Her third book, Essence, will be published in 2025. Twitter: @thuy_on Instagram: poemsbythuy