Millennials, internships and the creative industries

Millennials graduating in 2020 are now faced with the challenge of securing well-paid jobs during the pandemic. However, with the creative industries’ resilient nature and early digital adoption, millennials have more opportunities than ever to enter the creative field.

Back in March 2020, COVID-19 spread like wildfire and eventually reached every corner of the world. Millennials graduating in 2020 are now faced with the challenge of securing a well-paying job in this post-pandemic world. The new economy during and after COVID-19 for millennials is creating a bleak future where well-paid jobs are difficult to secure. However, millennials have more opportunities than ever to enter the creative field.

To explore the topic of millennials and the new economy further, I interviewed Brian Hallett, a photographer, director and content strategist who has been in the creative industry for more than 18 years. 

He offered valuable insights into how millennials can enter the creative industries, the rewards and conditions of these careers, and how this demographic can succeed.

Internships: The gateway to creative industries

As more millennials invest in their education, the creative market is becoming increasingly full of talented and highly qualified individuals, making competition fierce. But internships can offer millennials the skills and experiences needed to position themselves better within the creative industries.

It may seem disheartening to know that years of education can only guarantee an internship, but it’s important to understand the value that internships provide. They can be a great opportunity to build your soft skills within a company where you learn to make quick decisions, build your creativity and gain confidence in public speaking. And according to Hallet, internships allow you to build experiences and make contacts. 

Though some may consider pursuing an internship as moving down the ladder for millennials who have already been in the working world, in reality, it’s going sideways. Hallett explained how the career ladder is not a straight line and how millennials can build on their past experiences and skills. Internships have led many millennials to well-paid jobs, an example being Summer Wang, a Google UX Designer I interviewed via LinkedIn.

She expressed, “My internship helped me a lot. It taught me what a real UX designer life looked like. I gained the chance to work very closely with project managers, engineers and writers. Luckily, one of my projects launched during my internship. I would say that was a very helpful industry experience to me”.

This means that internships can help millennials in launching projects successfully with the assistance of their mentors and colleagues.

The rewards and working conditions of creative workers

It may seem like the rewards and working conditions of creative workers have decreased, but millennials can adapt by banding together and fighting for fair pay. The current civil protests across the world have opened doors to reforms and fair treatment. This can be applied to the creative world as well. 

In his book, The Cultural Industries, David Hesmondhalgh mentions how “wages are… kept down by the ready availability and willingness of creative professionals in other cultural industries to transfer across into another field” and have thus created a “permanent oversupply of artistic labour”. This means a saturated market. And a saturated market means creative professionals are faced with low rewards.








Hallett expressed a similar sentiment when amateur photography boomed with the advancement of technology and the resulting decrease of event shoots’ market value. What’s key is for “creative workers…[to] come together to defend their interests against such forms of low pay and exploitation”, says Hesmondhalgh. Change can happen when a collective group of creative workers fight for it.

What is the New Normal and how can millennials make themselves stand out?

Hallett mentioned how the New Normal is based on the small changes we are creating in regards to innovation and how it shifts our lifestyle on a personal and professional level. The reality is that the world before COVID-19 does not exist in the future.

In the documentary, My Millennial Life, Hope dreams of being a magazine writer and has had at least five magazine internships since she graduated with a Bachelor in Arts and English. In her spare time, she cultivated her skills by writing blogs, which ultimately led her to be “promoted to [an] online editor and blogger for Huffington Post by the end of the documentary.

The lesson is clear: we must create personal projects to build our portfolios––otherwise, why would someone hire you if you haven’t proved you can do it?

Julia Trang Nguyen is an International and Multicultural person who has lived in the USA, South Korea, China and Spain. She recently graduated from IE HST with a Master in Visual and Digital Media (MVDM). She is passionate about learning in school & from people and is excited to jump start her career in design. Feel free to add her on LinkedIn and check out her Behance.