Need an internship in the media to graduate? Want an internship in this field to gain some experience? Maybe both? Your answer is probably ‘yes.’
Media industry internships give students an opportunity for experiential learning. This is especially important for communications majors in digital media, journalism, production, and public relations. Landing one can highlight the students’ ability to demonstrate what they have learned in the classroom within a work environment—separate from academia. It exposes them to the professional world.
Before getting exposure however, students first need to search for internships and then apply. This process can be stressful. It takes time, energy, and a balance of other school work and commitments to submit well-done and completed applications. So, here are several ways for students to make this internship process much more manageable, according to experts.
“You can imagine what it’s like to be a journalist, to write, to have to meet deadlines, to have to interview people you’ve never talked to before, but you want to experience that in a real world setting and make sure that it’s a good fit for you before you graduate and try to get a job in that line of work,” Beth King, Internship Coordinator at the Career Resource Center, said.
Therefore, know the purpose behind getting this internship. Narrow down the focus of the internship search, and use databases such as HawkHire and Indeed.com, she said. “Bookmark those career sites to find them again,” King added. Consider the geographic location of the internship, she reminded. Also, figure out what is necessary to complete the application, and by when.
After this initial search, completing these applications accurately is essential. “Give yourself maybe 2 hours a week at most devoted to it—even if it’s just an hour, then it makes it manageable…You have to put time on your planner, on your phone, to achieve those goals,” King explained.
Students should also ask themselves these questions: “When will I be able to finish this application?” “Which application needs more attending to than the other one?” and “Do I do this one online, or do I have to mail this one in?” said Christine Garmendiz, a T. Howard Alumna and SUNY New Paltz senior, who interned at TruTV in summer 2017.
What is the T. Howard Foundation? Well, it is an internship program for college students, whose mission is to increase diversity in the media and entertainment industry. Garmendiz’s experience raises another key point. Students should look up potential resources and internship programs that can further propel their professional development and future careers.
To apply to programs and internships, Doreen Thomas, a Training and Recruitment Coordinator for the T. Howard Foundation, said to answer the prompt. Students must pay attention to the details within the questions being asked. They need to spell their name correctly, give the proper contact information, and revise their resumes, she added.
In preparation for the interview, students should visit the company’s websites to get a sense of its vision, mission, and products, she explained. This gives students some background on their potential organization. Both King and Thomas stressed the importance of practicing for the interview, as well. Businessinsider.com and themuse.com are websites students can refer to for preparation material including mock questions, Thomas added.
Thomas also said students have to constantly apply, and not wait until January. The earlier students begin the process, the better chance companies have in reviewing their application in advance. “Don’t get comfortable,” she warned.
Garmendiz couldn’t agree more. “Apply to everything, and have experiences that you can really talk about that you know you’ve grown from, and if you can’t find that, then that’s what you need to start looking for,” she said.
Mentorship is also key for an internship and life experience, Thomas said. It has a reciprocal benefit for the mentor and mentee, she explained. Both individuals learn from each other. “The more experience you have, the more questions you have,” she included, and that relationship is helpful for those moments of inquiry and advice. Maybe this professional network can even turn into a life-long friendship, she added.
“People always need help. It doesn’t matter who you are,” said Garmendiz. Asking for help “is a lot stronger than thinking you can do it on your own.”
Moreover, students who know what they’re interested in, can get in contact with their department, and students within the department who can be a resource to them. Talking with Journalism Professors, Bret Berry and Meghan Sperry, can be a start, Garmendiz said. Media students should also speak with their academic major advisors and internship coordinators to ensure they will earn academic credits toward their degree.
“I would definitely try to reach out to alumni as a media student because they definitely have the most experience, and you need to go through what they went through already, so they would give you the best advice,” Jenn Seelig, SUNY New Paltz senior, who interned at News 12 Long Island in summer 2017.
Now, during the interview, students should never forget to ask questions toward the end. This is their opportunity to stand out, and gain valuable information they can’t find on the company’s website. They should ask about the work environment, and inquire about what interns have worked on in the past.
Also, students should always send a thank-you note in 24 hours or less, added King. Last but not least, follow-up with an email 2-3 weeks later to stay in touch, and ask any additional questions about the next steps in the process.
Therefore, with careful planning, relevant research, dedication to applying, and interview practice, students can sift through the rough patches of this process. Hopefully with these steps, they can successfully land an internship in the media.
And if you do land one, remember: “You have to think of it as a job. It is your future career, you have to treat it like one. And if you do, that’s how you learn,” Seelig said.
Regardless, be wary of the r-word: rejection. Accepting and understanding this can make the difference between a candidate who continues to apply to internships in this field, and one that doesn’t.
Don’t give up.
“Rejection hurts. But I always tell students, they’re not rejecting you. They’re rejecting a piece of paper with your name on it. They haven’t met you,” said King.
p.s. Last week Sunday, I completed the polished version of my article. It’s been submitted to an online publication to my school, and got in. Here’s to getting published! Much to be thankful for this year and always.
Here’s the online version: