Frontloading an Internship – the Pros and Cons

Written by Tess Poplawski

For some students, completing an internship unit is a course requirement before graduation. For Media and Communication students, that unit is either KKB431 Work Integrated Learning 1, KKB342 Work Integrated Learning 2, KKB351 Work Integrated Learning 3 or KKB352 Work Integrated Learning 4 depending on your degree.

Each unit aims to prepare students for the ‘real world’ by ensuring they experience what it is like to work in the industry, have the opportunity to network with people and work in a professional manner.

If you are unsure if you need to complete an internship before you graduate, make sure you head to the QUT website and find your course structure.

Many students know what an internship is and whether they need to complete one. However, what many students don’t know is that they can frontload an internship. I’ll admit, I was one of them. It wasn’t until I had a conversation with a close friend about 12 months ago that I finally learnt about this whole ‘frontloading’ concept.

The QUT Creative Industries Faculty recognises that industries don’t work off academic timetables. Their Work Integrated Learning (WIL) program provides flexibility, enabling students to commence their internship ahead of semester dates. Students can start their internship over the summer break prior to semester one, or over the winter break prior to semester one. This is what they call frontloading.

Having frontloaded my internship this semester, here is what I consider to be the pros and cons of starting an internship ahead of the semester.

Pros of frontloading

1. One step ahead

The greatest benefit to frontloading is you’re one step ahead of your peers, or should I say competitors. Frontloading gives you a greater chance of securing an internship.

Because many students don’t know about frontloading or may not be as proactive, there are limited students completing for the same internships in comparison to if you were to do it during semester dates.

2. Limited classes

If you frontload, you only have to attend one lecture and one tutorial! Yes, they are during the holidays, however wouldn’t you rather attend two classes instead of one class each week during the semester?

3. More time

By frontloading, you are also extending the time before your first pieces of assessment are due. If you don’t frontload, you have approximately four weeks to find an internship, before you must withdraw from the unit. Four weeks is not a lot of time when your competing with over 300 students for the same internships.

Starting the internship process of updating your CV and resume and actively seeking a position, you will be less stressed and be able to be more selective in the internships you apply for.

4. Finishing before the semester starts

Depending on how many days you are required to work per week at your internship, you may complete your 100 or 200 hours before the semester starts. This will allow you to either pick up another subject to study during the semester or if it is your final semester, it will allow you to focus on either 1,2 or 3 subjects not 4.

Cons of frontloading

1. Being proactive

The greatest challenge to frontloading is being proactive. Frontloading takes place during university holidays. That’s right, holidays. Therefore, you will need to actually do some work such as emailing your QUT supervisor and completing assessment pieces. Don’t worry the first assessment pieces include updated your CV and resume so it’s not too much work.

2. Contacting businesses during holidays

More specifically to those frontloading during the summer, you must acknowledge that some businesses may be closed due to the Christmas. Therefore, it may be a little more challenging to get in contact with people.

Speaking from experience, I highly recommend you frontload your internship if possible. It’s evident there are more pros than cons. Just remember, if you put the hard work in at the start you will be rewarded at the end.

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