Practicums or internships pay huge dividends to university students, but not always in dollar and cents.
Up front, I need to disclose a bias. I’m a beneficiary of internships (think Roswell Daily Record, Roswell, New Mexico in 1979), have hired countless reporting interns from my days as a newspaper editor and have overseen many university students in their internships for about 20 years.
Many internships are unpaid. But some of these professional, off-campus experiences come with a pay check, as was the case with senior Ethan Rice, a multimedia major at Taylor. He worked for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources in Indianapolis this past summer.
“It was a huge transition both professionally and personally, as I started to go to work in an office and moved for the summer into a city where I knew very few people my age and had to create social opportunities for myself,” Rice said.
“At the DNR, I was able to gain valuable experience both on what it is like to work at this sort of job, as well as getting opportunities to improve and utilize a wide range of my skills. It was encouraging to get feedback from and work alongside industry professionals, and I created several outputs that will be very useful in my portfolio.”
Junior Sam Jones, a multimedia journalism major, said, “My internship at the Chronicle-Tribune has been one of learning and growth in many areas,” Jones said. “I’ve been exposed to different areas of writing, such as event coverage and crime reporting, which really can only be experienced in a professional newsroom. I’ve had the opportunity to work with other writers, and to improve my writing with their help.”
Senior Justin Chapman, another multimedia major, interned at an unpaid internship at the Indianapolis Business Journal (IBJ) in Indianapolis, IN. This was his second such experience, having interned earlier at the daily newspaper in Noblesville, Indiana, The Noblesville Times.
“My IBJ internship helped me learn even more problem-solving skills,” Chapman said. “I was put in situations where I was not quite sure what to do, but I had to take steps forward and trust I would figure it out. Meeting other IBJ employees was great as they taught me different lessons and pushed me to write better and report better.”
Sophomore multimedia journalism major Holly Gaskill, said, “The summer I interned at my hometown’s newspaper, The Berne Witness, where I had previously interned in high school,” Gaskill said.
“While The Echo provides a great on-campus opportunity to learn and grow in skill, being at my hometown newspaper often pushed me out of my comfort zone and gave me the responsibility of a real reporter outside of Taylor,” Gaskill said. “I had to work with people who had presuppositions about our newspaper, all while being seen as a real reporter, not some college student. It was thoroughly enjoyable to bear that responsibility. I look forward to gaining more perspective at future newspaper internship opportunities.”
Taylor alumna Abigail Yasmeen Roberts, who graduated in spring 2019, after working on The Echo completed an internship at the Marion Chronicle-Tribune in the fall of 2018.
“I worked part-time as a reporter and photographer at the Marion Chronicle-Tribune,” Roberts said. “I wanted to invest in the local community and learn what it meant to tell their stories well.”
She said only a month into her practicum, word came over the police scanner about a local house fire.
“I jumped into a car and drove toward the billowing smoke on the horizon. While interviewing members of the family who lost their home, I was able to jump directly into the situation and ask personal questions when the opportunity arose. Their responses are what made the resulting story impactful. It was an amazing feeling to see stories I had written and photos I had taken make it to the front page,” Roberts said.
In hindsight, she said, “My time at the (Marion Chronicle-Tribune) was the perfect introduction to print journalism. The Marion Chronicle Tribune allows budding journalists to dive into every aspect of the print journalism process. There is room for mistakes. The staff is gracious and eager for you to learn. My time there was the perfect stepping stone to professional journalism endeavors.”
I would agree 100% with Abigail. She shared with me Wednesday afternoon that she had applied, been offered and had accepted yet another internship. She beamed as she said she would start as an intern in New York City in January 2020 at ABC World News Tonight with David Muir. OK, I was kind of beaming, too.
Oh, and, in case you were wondering, Abigail’s internship is a paid one!
Alan D. Blanchard, Ph.D., associate professor of journalism and Communication Department co-chair, advises The Echo. He had a prior career as a newspaper reporter,
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