Getting an internship was the topic of discussion as 10 journalism students who had killer summer internships spoke to a group of their peers at an advice session in Annenberg Hall on Wednesday.
The panel members, comprised mostly of juniors and seniors, had all interned at major publications and TV stations, ranging from The Detroit Free Press to Vibe magazine. Throughout the 45-minute session, each gave their best advice on how to score that dream internship.
Amond the panel members were: Michael Trim, who worked for the Boston TV station WCVB, Elizabeth Vaughn, who interned for The Philadelphia Inquirer and Nicole D’Andrea, who was at Philadelphia magazine.
As well as providing details of their internships, the ex-interns offered advice to students looking for internships.
Michael Trim, a senior broadcast journalism major, interned at an ABC affiliate in Boston, WCVB. Though he had no experience or contacts prior to the internship, he still managed to land the gig, simply by filling out an online application.
Trim stresses the importance of having an internship as a means of networking.
“It’s your ticket to a job in the industry,” Trim said. “It’s a way to get your foot in the door and make connections.”
The group agreed that networking and forming contacts are key to obtaining a good internship. Whether with professors, fellow students, or guest speakers, the students ranked making connections as the most imperative part of building a career in journalism.
Along with creating contacts, Trim advises an applicant to “have a well-updated resume and cover letter, and to be creative.”
Trim emphasized meeting application deadlines and getting a resume to as many media outlets as possible – he applied to several cities including Boston and Washington, D.C. Trim said a strong cover letter and a good resume is crucial to finding an internship.
“I got the internship by applying and by showing initiative,” he said. “Think about getting your application in.”
He was based at the assignment desk at the station. His job was to obtain information about the reports and confirm their accuracy. He also got experience in the field with professionals.
“I traveled with reporters and photographers,” Trim said.
Trim stressed the importance of having an internship as a means of networking. “It’s your ticket to a job in the industry,” Trim said. “It’s a way to get your foot in the door and make connections.”
Regardless of how many people you know, or of how spiffy your resume might be, the most important thing to winning an internship, and ultimately a job, is straight persistence.
Elizabeth Vaughn can certainly attest to this. Vaughn is a senior magazine journalism major who interned at The Philadelphia Inquirer as well as Allentown’s largest newspaper, the Morning Call.
Vaughn’s strategy for getting an internship was simple: go straight to the editor and ask for one.
“Initiative trumps most other things,” Vaughn said. “I just kind of went up to them and bullied my way in.”
She also recognizes that having an internship is essential to gaining the kind of experience needed to land a job in such a competitive business.
“The journalism degree is practically nothing without having experience,” she said.
For much of the panel, the internships were their first. However, this was D’Andrea’s third. She previously worked at Connecticut Magazine, followed by Philadelphia Weekly, and finally Philadelphia magazine.
“By that time I was ‘internship-ed’ out,” she said.
It was her first time living in Philadelphia as a non-student. “It was exciting to live in Philadelphia in the summer,” D’Andrea said.
Although it may not have been as exciting as her past internships, she advises students not to be picky.
“I didn’t get to write that much, which was disappointing,” she said. “But make the best of it. I got ambitious and decided to get a job.”
She said she spent a great deal of time at Philadelphia fact checking. Fact checking consists of going over a given story and making sure all the quotes and facts are accurate. D’Andrea says that her writing improved as a result of this position.
“I learned a lot about writing through fact-checking,” she said.
In order to get a desired internship, D’Andrea also said it is sometimes necessary to continually contact the publication. It may seem futile to do so, but she claims that it is crucial.
“Just be a pain and call the editor over and over again,” she said. “If you want it bad enough, you’ll get an internship.”
Many of the other interns emphasized that in almost all cases an internship is how one will find his dream job. If given the option between a class or two and an internship, the interns advised heavily for the latter.
Since summer internships are only available to residents, they are usually easier to get than internships during the school year.
A concern that students may have is whether or not it will affect their studies. D’Andrea reassures students, saying that a committed student will do both well. She experienced a similar conundrum in her line of internships.
“I had to do my schoolwork and miss a lot of writing opportunities; I was just a body at [Philadelphia Weekly],” she said. “I didn’t suffer in my studies, however.”
The meeting emphasized continually and persistently applying, in addition to networking with various contacts at Temple. The interns are aggressive toward their careers because of their internships.
For Michael Trim, his internship was a validation. “It solidified everything for me,” he said. “I know this is what I want to do.”