Why you should do an Internship

via depts.ttu.edu

I did two internships while I was in college. Both were unpaid, but taught me a lot about town and state politics, including what would be expected of me when I finally graduated and started looking for a job of my own.

I want to focus on my internship at the JI, which is located in Manchester, CT. It’s actually five minutes from my home in Vernon. MCC actually set me up for that internship.

When I transferred from the University of New Haven to MCC, I finally realized that I wanted to be a journo. I had taken most of the classes for my associate’s degree by the time I got my internship, so I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. — I was completely wrong.

My teachers at MCC did a great job of getting me ready to write and perform at a higher level, but nothing prepared me for walking into a newsroom full of both veteran and new reporters.

You have to get over being intimidated. I know that I was for a week or two after I started. Obviously, the nerves won’t go away immediately, but you need to realize that these are normal people working full-time. They aren’t “normal” in the sense that they will swear more than a sailor, but they are just doing their jobs. Once you get over the fact that they aren’t super heroes, or whatever, you can get to work and, hopefully, get them to respect you.

When you find out what you will be covering, study it. I don’t care if you Google or Bing the town for hours, but really start to understand what the town is like and what you are going to be reporting on. Read as many stories on it as you can and make the calls to all the town officials. Find out what is currently going on and what has happened in the recent past. Find out everything.

When you are caught up on the town, introduce yourself to all the sources you will be talking to on a regular basis, the town manager, mayor, first selectman, school and finance board chairmen, superintendent, principals and the town clerk. Town clerks will be your best friend. It’s nice to introduce yourself the person and get to know them on a level where they can trust you. It’ll make a difference in the future.

Make sure you ask all the reporters around you questions. If you have a question and need help, don’t hesitate. If you don’t start asking questions right away it’ll make your lift so much harder. You will be assigned to an editor who will probably be busier than you think. Obviously, ask them questions, but your fellow reporters are just as capable of answering questions as your editor. Asking questions to the people around you will open the doors for you. It may sound silly, but at least try. There will be some reporters that won’t give you the light of day, but others will take you under their wing and help you along. Editors will do the same thing. Just remember to be honest and never, ever, sell yourself short.

One thing I highly recommend is to make goals for yourself. They can be as small or large as you want, but at least make an attempt at it. You will not regret it.

My biggest goal was to get hired at the JI. I worked like there was no tomorrow for me. I wrote as many briefs as possible and as many stories as I could. I made my best effort to work, as though, they wouldn’t be able to live without me. Obviously, I was 19 at the time, but I really was doing everything that I could. In a business where each paper has had “hundreds” of interns, you need to make yourself stand out. To succeed in journalism, you want people to remember you, your work ethic and how you handle things under pressure. That’s something to live by in your career.

Have an internship story that you’d like to share? email me at jonathanstankiewicz @ gmail.com.

Jonathan

If you are looking for an internship, take a look at what journalismjobs.com has to offer. If you don’t already know about the site, you should bookmark it ASAP.

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4 Responses to Why you should do an Internship

  1. jessjonesjournalist says:

    Hi Jonanthan, great article. I think it’s definitely worth doing internships while at university, a great way to make contacts and gain invaluable experience.

  2. Pingback: Town Clerks.. Your “BFF” « Just Starting Out

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