AFL Youth Central Rookie Reporter Ben Rowles looks back over the amazing and invaluable experience of his internship with AFL Media.

I often hear fellow university students complain about their experiences with various forms of work placement.

Some say the hours are too long. Some can’t stomach the concept of voluntary work. Others find that the occupation they are involved with isn’t all that it’s made out to be.

Fortunately, I can’t say I have had the same experience.

Sure, rolling out of bed at 7am on a Friday is hardly my cup of tea, but when I eventually gather the courage to face the cold Melbourne weather I know I am going to get a lot out of my day ahead.

An Exciting Prospect
Back in early 2013 I was lucky enough to be selected as part of the inaugural Rookie Reporter Program run by AFL Media in conjunction with Youth Central and the State Government of Victoria.

In the initial stages of my application process, I wasn’t really expecting a great deal to come of it. I had only just started my second year studying a Bachelor of Sports Journalism at La Trobe University and had been turned down for similar roles with other sporting organisations.

As I went through the process, though, I started to become excited at the prospect of working at one of the great media outlets in this country and the experience I could walk away with if I was to be selected for the program.

Eventually, after submitting a few articles and attending a few interviews, I got the good news that I would be joining four other young people at AFL Media over the coming months.

Getting the Complete Experience
From my first day walking around the wonderful facilities at AFL House up until now, I can honestly say I haven’t had a bad experience.

I’ve also had days that are busier than others, but, from my point of view, if I’m busy running around all over Melbourne following the next big football story, it’s hardly something worth complaining about.

Highlights of an Action-Packed Year
In such an action-packed year in which the AFL has well and truly been under the spotlight for a multitude of reasons, it’s hard to nominate a personal highlight.

The first that springs to mind was my debut press conference (affectionately known in journalistic circles as a “presser”), which was a routine Mick Malthouse appearance at Carlton Football Club’s Visy Park.

The thing that struck me about Malthouse was the presence he has among the reporters in the room and the way he can almost bully them into not asking questions.

I was lucky enough to share an audience with him after the press conference as part of a university group, which interestingly revealed a much lighter and jovial side to the three-time-Premiership coach.

Another solid learning experience came when I asked my first question at a presser to an equally short-tempered coach: Hawthorn’s Alastair Clarkson. While the press conference was a scheduled one, it took place in a pretty informal setting at the check-in area of Melbourne Airport before the Hawks flew out to play a match in Adelaide.

I wouldn’t say I was nervous about asking a question, but I did make a concerted effort to bide my time and make sure it was relevant to the game ahead. Fortunately, Clarkson was good enough to give me a pretty detailed answer about the impending return of midfielder Brad Sewell.

Of course my time spent at AFL Media couldn’t have been complete without being somehow involved in the Essendon saga.

As the season went on I could tell the reporters almost got as sick of asking the questions as coach James Hird or the players were of answering them. One moment in particular, however, that sticks in my mind, was the day Hird failed to attend a press conference that he had demanded go ahead to address his future.

Speculation was rife that the former Brownlow Medallist was on the brink of announcing his resignation and the media pack was heavily populated to say the least.

When it was announced five minutes before the engagement that Hird had cancelled and assistant Simon Goodwin would take his place, it was almost funny to see almost half the reporters leave and a couple of camera crews pack up to go home.

Needless to say, many of the journalists there were not amused at the sequence of events.

I also enjoyed attending a few games in the press box, writing match reports or articles based on the end-of-game interviews conducted by the coaches. I am currently working on a piece that provides a short summary for each round of the season, to be published in the 2013 Grand Final edition of the AFL Record.

This Is the Path I Want to Take
All of these experiences have reaffirmed to me that this is the path I want to take with my career.

My time spent working with the wonderful array of journalists, presenters and editors at AFL Media has been an invaluable addition to my university studies, and it is a venture I know will hold me in good stead for the future.
Some of the roles I had to complete early on were quite tedious and simplistic (holding microphones, light reflectors and banners at press conferences and so forth), but I recognise that they are all part of getting the complete experience from the ground up.