Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Straight talk about internships from UMass Journalism students

Hannah Yoo, at her summer internship in New York with some guy at ABC World News Tonight
I am so proud of our UMass Journalism interns, because they show how far you can go when you're willing to work hard, take a chance and apply. Sometimes students don't apply for big things because they fear rejection. This is a big mistake. My advice: apply already. What's the worst that could happen? And often enough, students are pleasantly surprised and they get the gig.

March and April are busy months as students figure out where to apply. We go over (and over!) their resumes and cover letters and talk about interviewing strategies. Then, we wait to hear if they've been accepted.

But the best month is this one, when I get to hear what they've done during the summer. Internships are often a life-and-career changers for students.

This summer, our students interned all over the place, from the Student Press Law Center in Washington, DC, to WBUR, WCVB, WGBH in Boston, Elle magazine in New York. Artscope in Boston. Each summer, I ask everyone to post about his or her experience, and, below you can find the accounts from this summer.

If you're a UMass Journalism student, I hope you'll consider an internship next summer. Come to my office and let's talk.

16 comments:

Marleigh Felsenstein said...

So it was the end of freshman year and I was a Journalism major at UMass Amherst that desperately wanted to be a reporter. But I did an internship in the summer of 2014 at a criminal investigation unit at the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office in New Jersey, and it was then that I made up my mind. I no longer wanted to be a reporter, but I wanted to be a police officer. So where did that leave my academic career?

Fast forward to this summer- I landed myself an internship at the Office of Public Affairs at the New Jersey State Police headquarters, which is located in Trenton, New Jersey- a good hour and a half drive from my family’s home. That was a long drive to do office work that I did not get paid for, but while I trekked down there (and back up) a couple days a week, I had a lot of time to think about what I was doing and why I was doing it.

The Office of Public Affairs functions as a media relations office. We dealt with media phone calls, press releases, interviews with state troopers, and even a mentor program called FLEET that my office runs. I also went on a few excursions, such as a ride on a Marine Services vessel out of Liberty State Park, I got to watch a television interview, I was quoted as a member of the state police in an article, and I even got a few of my press releases and Facebook posts published!

I originally thought this would be a police internship, and even though I worked with troopers, I realized along the way that it was a police internship AND a journalism internship combined, which is perfect for my academic career, and where I want to take my life after I receive my bachelor’s degree. Internships like that one that I had can help build relationships with people that can help you down all sorts of career paths. Little did I know that I would end up with such a grand slam job.

Take the risk- drive the hours, make the coffee, organize the binders, and answer the phones. Because along the way, you might find that perfect fit. I learned not to give up so easily when I made mistakes, not to turn around and get back into bed when I sat in gridlocked traffic. It may seem hard and tiring sometimes (and maybe all the time) but I cannot think of a better way to spend a summer. Go jump into a job that you have always wanted and see if you can do it- you might surprise yourself.

Hae Young Yoo said...

I started looking into summer internships in mid-November because I could not stand the idea of having to go back to the coffee/crepe café I worked at the previous summer. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the free coffee and crepes, but having to make half-caf, soy lattes with just one shot and no foam for demanding mothers each morning got old real quick.

I landed an interview with someone from ABC News in New York in early December. But she thought I was interviewing for a winter internship and told me to keep in touch until her department actually started looking for summer interns. And keep in touch I did. I emailed her, and when I wasn’t emailing her, thought constantly of emailing her again, almost every day for the next few months. It became a personal mission for me to land this internship.

When I got the news that I did in the spring, I had on a smile and a half, standing way too happily for a weekday on the first floor of the ILC.

I can say with no fluff that interning at ABC News in the Specialized Units changed my life. The professors and advisors at UMass who keep pushing students to apply for internships because they have the opportunity to do just that are not lying.

I got to see first-hand what goes on at a news organization, how reporters, producers, editors and anchors all come together to get the news out there. I got an early head-start on how to talk to professionals, how to write pitches, do research, submit requests via the Freedom of Information Act… and how to pick up the phone and call pretty much anyone and everyone, all these things that I would not have gotten to do if I were still at that café. And let me tell you, there is no better feeling than seeing your byline.

But what I loved most about my internship is that it made me dream, and not just dream, but dream huge. Being in an environment with very smart and driven people has instilled in me a mindset that the world is wide open. Before coming here, I swore I would never want to go into broadcast, but just last week I found myself looking on Spire to see if any broadcast classes were still available.

I loved waking up at six in the morning every day this summer, going into my favorite city, contributing to a team and celebrating its successes. And the connections! Do a good job and people will remember you. These kinds of opportunities will not come your way if you’re still sitting around and waiting for someone to notice your greatness.

Jessica Picard said...

With last year being my freshman year at UMass, you can imagine how finding out I should be getting internships as early as this summer terrified me. I felt like I didn't have enough experience to land an internship. Now that I have been interning at Worcester Magazine in Worcester, Massachusetts for about 4 months now, all I can say is that I was dead wrong. You never know what you are capable of until you are out in the field doing it. You may think you cannot write a story or interview someone with confidence, but when you are put in the sink-or-swim situation of doing it, you see your true potential.

In an internship you learn so much about yourself and what you are working towards at school. Everything you have been learning comes into play, and you find out what you do and do not like doing. For me, I discovered that as much as I enjoy writing articles, what I really love doing is taking photographs. Originally I thought I wanted to go into broadcasting, and now this internship and watching the paper's photojournalist in action has caused me to put my focus in a different direction. I will still be looking into broadcast and other areas of journalism, but now I know that I want to look into photography along with it.

Take every opportunity you can get to gain experience and meet more people. Not everything will be offered to you, so sometimes you have to speak up and ask for the experience you want. For example, I was being given a lot of editorial stuff and I was able to take my own pictures for my articles, but I wanted more photography experience. So I asked if I could go out with the photographer a few times to get hands on experience in that field as well.

I would highly recommend doing as many internships as possible. You will never know if what you are going to school for is what you truly want to be doing with your life and career until you are actively living it. It's better to find that out while still in school than after. Also, you will learn valuable skills that you could never learn in a classroom.

Tyler Fiedler said...

Everyday throughout winter break I thought to myself where should I intern and what do I want to do for the summer. My dream and passion is sports. As a sports journalism major I am able to live my dream and passion by taking classes and gaining experiences in sports writing and reporting. When looking for a summer internship there are an overwhelming amount of choices in the sports field. Newspapers, magazines, television stations filtered my search each and every day. But I already was awarded an internship with a newspaper, The Daily Hampshire Gazette, while in my fall semester of sophomore year. So I wanted to go in a different route.
I finally came across a marketing internship with a company 20 minutes away from my hometown in New Jersey. The company is called Integrated Sports Media. To secure this internship I emailed the internship coordinator over and over again keeping in contact to show how interested I was in landing such internship. I then was given a phone interview and from there landed a face-to-face interview. Having the experience in face-to-face interviewing is a huge plus and something I advise everyone to practice and feel comfortable with because it can be the difference in you landing an internship and making impression.

While working this summer for Integrated Sports Media, I learned more about the marketing side of the world. As a journalist, marketing and advertising has always interested me. By taking this internship, I was able to see how the marketing side works and how they go about their business. I was able to gain experience in communication and quick thinking.

Having an internship is extremely important in making connections and landing a job in the future. If I learned anything it’s that you must do everything possible to stand out from the pack and make a strong impression on your boss. Making connections is another thing that will help later on. I strongly suggest getting as many internships as possible and start early. If you do not get the internship you want keep trying and grow through a different internship. Never give up hope. Go above and beyond what people ask you to do. Stay later than you normally would, voice your opinion, ask questions and listen attentively.

Lauren Tom said...


During my junior year last year, I was so determined and adamant on getting an internship. Last summer I had my first internship and knew I had to keep gaining more experience on my resume. It’s all about the internships and experience that many companies look at when you apply for future jobs. It’s all about the connections!

So as soon as I was finished with all my finals the first semester, I started searching and applying to internships, wanting to get an early start. I applied to quite a few places be sending out my resume, cover letter and writing samples.

I finally heard back from a place and landed an interview with Hamptons Magazine. The interview I think went smoothly and the associate editor who I was talking to ask if I could complete a writing assignment so they can assess my work. The next day I emailed her a thank you email along with the writing assignment and she got back to be right away and said I got the job!

Interning at Hamptons Magazine was an overall great experience. You learn so much and actually get to experience things first hand. I feel that some people think it’s not worth interning at these types of places because internships can sometimes get a bad rep (like going on coffee runs or filing paperwork) but it’s totally worth it. I was fortune enough to have hands on experience. I got to sit in on meetings with editors, write articles and also contact sources and PR handlers. While all this was happening, I was making connections and meeting new people! Because of this internship I had a much better view on how a magazine works and what goes in a magazine.

I strongly urge everyone to do at least one internship before they graduate. Interning is a great way to make connections and gain more experience in the field you want to go into. Having internships as a foundation will really help you later in life when your job searching.

lexi sheldon said...

I always dreamed of working for a fashion/life & style magazine. As an underclassman, I attended panels and workshops hosted by magazine industry professionals, listened to their stories, and learned how they achieved success. Despite my coursework and research, I never believed I would actually end up at a magazine like ELLE.

I happened to come across the e-mail address of an ELLE employee in September 2014. I cold-emailed her, and to my surprise she e-mailed me back AND scheduled a phone call with me. We ended up having a great conversation. She could tell I was knowledgeable in the industry, and passionate about working for a magazine. We kept in touch, and she reached out to me in December, encouraging me to apply for the summer internship program. After applying and interviewing, I was hired as a digital marketing intern!

Working at ELLE was nothing short of amazing. I had the unique opportunity to work with a really small, close-knit team, within a huge corporation. I received a ton of one-on-one attention and feedback. I did work that actually added value to the team (and to my portfolio!) There is no better way to gain experience and make connections in your desired field than to intern.

I think the best thing I took away from my internship, aside from the technical skills, was confidence. Last fall, I didn’t think I could get an internship at ELLE. As I worked, and learned, and saw how many people at the magazine genuinely want to help me achieve success, I started to believe that I could actually get my dream job some day.

In short, BJ is so right! You should apply for the big internship or job and don’t be afraid of rejection. You have nothing to lose. If you don’t take a chance you might be missing out on one of the best experiences of your life!

Brilee Weaver said...

I remember continuously refreshing my inbox in hopes that I had received that long-awaited response. I had fallen victim to the seemingly endless waiting game that follows the internship interview.

When the good news finally arrived, I felt like I held a sparkling golden ticket— an internship at Chronicle was my key to a media world bustling with activity and endless thrill.

It wasn’t until I sat behind the desk in that summertime-quiet office that I realized the phrase I so often used to describe just about any experience would pertain to this one, too: You get out what you put in.

Sure, I would consult with the list of ‘Intern Tasks’ that hung beside the computer, archiving new episodes and answering viewer inquiries; checking facts with those featured on past episodes that would soon air again; retrieving each day’s afternoon mail delivery before bringing tapes to master control.

And it would have been easy to have my internship be just that: the daily completion of a bulleted list. But I wasn’t there to be simply a doer of tasks- I was there to have an experience.

I was soon speedily performing my bare-minimum duties to welcome others, ready to leap onto the springboard of opportunity and just absorb.

I knocked on editing suite doors and was welcomed inside by skillful storytellers, shoulders-deep in their latest projects; I consulted the shooting schedule and accompanied producers as they boarded an all-new commuter bus fit for spinning classes, journeyed down historic Charles Street, or heard the stories of Dorchester residents thankful to have an affordable grocery store in their neighborhood. I even made a habit of watching noon news broadcasts in the studio… daily.

What I remember most about my internship is what happened in those lulls, when I decided to kick out that rolling chair and dive in.

Be sure your internship is more than a line or two on your resume, more than a check inside a box next to a task. While I thought I arrived at my internship with a golden ticket, I actually left with one.

Stefan Geller said...

After my freshman year of college I spent my summer interning at my local newspaper, a gig I got after only applying to internships in my last few months of school. The internship turned out to be very little work and ultimately a big disappointment. Before I returned for my second year I promised myself I would not procrastinate with internships and get an early head start. I began my internship search in November and by the end of the year I applied to three times as many places as the year before. While I only got one to reply to schedule an interview it was with Comcast SportsNet, an actual news station! And a sports station at that! I was so excited and ended up nailing the interview due to my comfort with the work. After following up for months I landed one of the four spots available for interns.

While I did not have many responsibilities at CSN, I enjoyed my time there thoroughly. On the two days a week I worked, I was mainly responsible for clipping live sports games and running the teleprompter during the six o’clock and ten thirty airings of the sports news show, Chevrolet SportsNet Central. Clipping games meant that while stationed in a large room with many computers and other machinery well beyond my understanding, I would sit and watch the games and record any and all major plays that occurred and labeled them accordingly. Also, one day I got to assist two of the station's photographers for a free trip to a Red Sox game.

From my internship I learned first hand how a news station functions, the different roles each person plays, and all about the pros and cons to being in broadcasting. I met some awesome people (most of them, including my boss, were really nice), made useful connections, and learned about what it meant to start out in journalism. But what I think was most important was experiencing how much better it is to be working in a field you like versus one that you don't; I spent my summer interning and working part-time at a Subway, and found a drastic difference in my happiness working to further my career rather than some menial job. So, yes. I would recommend doing an internship. 8/10 . Furthering your chance at a career is infinitely better than settling for a job.

Stephanie Murray said...

An internship is like the holy grail for college students. Sought after by all, found by the worthy few, my summer-long stint at my local newspaper was more than just a job. It was a status symbol, an especially impressive one since I had just finished up freshman year. So I hate to admit that after a few weeks at the Lowell Sun I really wanted to quit.

The first time I got published reporting for the local news section, my editor slapped it down on my desk. “Happy now?” He asked. “Your family has to buy fifty copies of this. That’s the deal.”

I was speechless and embarrassed. I had four credits of journalistic knowledge under my belt, and I really thought that was enough.

Of course, that was not enough. There is no specific college course that can fully prepare you to work a newsroom. Getting knocked down a few pegs by an editor can do wonders for your writing; it certainly did for mine. I spent months discussing the importance of neutrality in “Introduction to Journalism” but a breach in neutrality was the first mistake I made on the job.

Your editor is not your professor, and at an internship you are not writing for a grade. You are writing for a paper, and that paper serves the public. I became a much more conscious writer this summer because I had to be neutral by nature rather than reading my notes from class to remind me before I started a project.

The critiques I received on my writing were hard to hear at first, and I thought my editor was a real jerk. He was short with me, snarky, and oftentimes condescending. Once I took into consideration that he is not a professor and he hasn’t been trained to give criticism in a way that is easy to hear and lends itself to learning, I sifted through what he was saying and really benefited from what he had to say.

As my internship comes to an end, I really will be sad to leave. My advice is to stick with your internship even when it gets tough. Appreciate the person taking time away from their daily job to critique you. If they give you a way to improve, they see potential in you.

Christian Yapor said...

After taking BJ’s journalism launchpad class last spring, I felt more confident in finding an internship that fit what I wanted to do with my future. I spoke to about 50 people in total about internships, but in the end I narrowed it down to a couple local newspapers. Ultimately I chose to intern for the MetroWest Daily News.

I remember being so nervous about the interview, I would ask my boyfriend to conduct practice interviews with me almost every day. He would throw curveball questions, critique my answers, and tell me to cut out all the ‘umms’ in my responses. When the day of my interview finally came, I nailed it.

For the MetroWest I covered a variety of topics including: science, feature stories, and local events. I was free to write about anything I wanted, as long as the topic was local, and had news relevance. I also shadowed journalists on assignments that required going to court houses, police stations, and town meetings.

Not only did my editor make sure my internship was always educational, he made sure it was fun as well. It was so inspiring to see how passionate he always was about the journalism field.

My editor made sure I covered every story thoroughly, because he wanted me to produce high quality work I would be proud to share with the public (and future employers).

I highly recommend all journalism students to do internships, you really need that real life experience you just can’t get in the classroom. I made a lot of professional connections with journalists, editors, and people in the community; all thanks to this internship. Interning at the MetroWest was truly an eye opening experience, and it rekindled my passion for news writing and reporting. So don’t be afraid of internships (or BJ’s journalism launchpad), they will only help you in the end.

Gabriela Reyes said...

I remember my last day of the Spring Semester running through campus to get to BJ Roche office to begin the internship paperwork, since that same day I received the exciting news that I was going to be interning at The Lowell Sun. Even though, I enjoyed my time there it was not easy. I look back and remember telling myself that I was going to quit because it was too hard and I was not ready. Don’t let doubt and fear stop you from becoming that great professional you want to be. Thank to that internship, I was able to practice my writing, cover stories and received hard but valuable criticism from the editor.
While my time at the newspaper, I learn how to write in a way that readers could understand. My professors have always told me that I needed to write for the readers and deliver the news as understandable as possible. I knew what they were saying, but know that I had the chance to put that into practice was when I fully understood the importance of what they were trying to explain.
Internships are a great opportunity to put yourself out there and learn from the best professionals in the field. Don’t feel bad if your editor or supervisor make you feel bad because of a work you did. Feel grateful that they are taking their time to help you grow. Also, don’t take that time for granted. Try to take in as much knowledge as possible and remember to take notes. Have always in mind that when you graduate you are not going to be the only professional searching for a job. Hiring managers are looking for graduates with experience and the only way you would get it is through various internships.

Haley Bucelewicz said...

This summer I interned in the news department at WCVB-- better known as Channel 5 Boston. Throughout the course of my internship I had the oppurtunity to experience first-hand the ins and outs of the newsroom. I was able to both observe and take part of everything going on behind the scenes in producing a newscast. I assisted the producers and managing editors daily and even had the opportunity to write and go out during live broadcasts. I was also able to explore other departments and see how they all work together

Moreover, I was able to network and make contacts with people in the business. Making connections with other professionals is extremely important and will help in the long run. I was lucky to have one of the producers take me under her wing and push me. She taught me not only about the business, but about being assertive, having a sense of urgency, and how to survive in a high-powered environment.

I learned not only how things operate in broadcast news, but also how to be a professional. I had to be independent and assertive in order to make the most out of my time there. Only you can determine your experiences and it is up to you to take advantage of the opportunities that you are given. The best advice I can give for anyone who takes an internship is to seize the opportunity and absorb all you can. Most internships may be unpaid but that does not mean it is not worth doing because you will be paid in something much more valuable-- experience. An internship is not only worth doing, but almost necessary in this day and age. It is an opportunity to get some real world experience, explore your interests, make connections, and learn valuable lessons on being a professional.

pmaccorm said...

After successfully completing my first internship at the Daily Hampshire Gazette, as a second semester Junior, I wanted to pair that strong spring 2015 semester with an even better summer internship. I was able to do so at the Patriot Ledger, a local South of Boston newspaper that has a strong hold in the community. The experience was demanding and challenging at some times, but I am thankful for every bit of information, skill and insight I picked up along the way.

I worked as a reporting intern, or what some call a contributing writer, for the local news desk. I would keep tabs on a Tuesday List section of the newspaper and write local coverage stories. This gave me the abundance of clips that I was looking for. I was also able to expand my journalistic reach by publishing a few videos and pictures of some events that I covered. This internship was a “learn as you go” experience. One of the more difficult things that I learned was how to properly use the computer system of a newsroom. There is a certain level of mastery that needs to be achieved in order to work efficiently within the bounds of the computer system and it took me a little while to get familiar with tasks such as constructing an article and publishing articles directly to the web. All valuable experiences nonetheless!

Getting an internship is more than a something you should do, it is a need and necessary for survival as a college student. The enlightenment and experience that one gains from working around established journalists, editors and photographers is invaluable. You cannot learn about journalism in the real world from anywhere else but a newsroom. The seasoned veterans on the staff test your knowledge and patience, and if you can use what they tell you to your advantage, than you will be more successful in life. I cannot say that from experience, because I am still job hunting for after graduation, but I feel a lot better than if I just sat on my butt during the summer! There is a sense of accomplishment with completing an internship or multiple internships along with a full semester of classes and getting a degree in four years. You feel smarter wherever you go because you know that you have experience in the real world.

Emily Driscoll said...

This summer I had the opportunity to work at Comcast SportsNet New England. I was thrilled when they offered me the position and I could not wait to start my work there. On my first day in the office, I quickly learned that in order to make the most out of my internship, I had to get up and move from the desk I was confined to and introduce myself to people. On paper, my tasks were to clip games (label each major play as it happens for the game highlights), run the teleprompter for the 6 pm and 10:30 pm broadcasts and log interviews from players and team personnel. What the job description does not explain is how in order to make the most of your internship, you have to not only do a good job with the task at hand, but you need to go above and beyond to meet people and make a good first impression. On my breaks, I began going on the set of a couple of the shows where I met the camera crew, the producers and the talent. One of the reporters even offered to take me to a Red Sox game where I was able to film some standups and watch them put together their live shots. I even got to write scripts for certain blocks of the news and my work was aired on television.
Doing an internship was absolutely worth it, not only do you learn a lot in an environment that is not a classroom-- you meet new people, build connections and gain some valuable work experience. I was invited by another one of the reporters to shadow him while he does Celtics broadcasts this winter break. I will miss my job at such a great network but I am happy to have this great experience behind me.

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Meg McGrath said...

I was abroad Fall semester which made me anxious for my upcoming rising senior summer. I applied to 14 internships, heard back from only 3, interviewed for two and ultimately returned to WHDH this summer. I applied for NESN and got to the interviewing process, but ultimately they went with someone else. I was absolutely devastated and terrified that I would manage to go from two semesters my rising junior summer, to none.

Last year I established a working relationship with Brad Tatum. In desperation, I emailed him to express that I hadn’t heard back from any of the companies I applied to, and it didn’t seem to be a lack of experience, but rather I just wasn’t the absolute ideal candidate. Thankfully, I heard back from him almost immediately and he informed me that I was accepted as their social media intern.

I still have contacts at NESN, but the reality is, my resume was saved by the contacts I managed to make last summer at my internships. I cannot express how important it is to have people in your corner in this industry.

I had the opportunity to see what happens in the newsroom firsthand, how the anchors, reporters and cyber journalists operate on a daily basis. I realize now that my career is completely dependent on my own determination and this upcoming semester I intend on making the reel that will get me to the career I desire.

The connections you make, I cannot stress enough, are the top reason to pursue an internship. You can be the best there is but if no one in the industry is pulling for you, how are you going to break through?