One of the best ways to get practical experience in journalism is to find an internship.
Whether you are looking for a print, on-line or broadcast journalism
internship, positions are offered by most media outlets, and you may
make vital connections that will really get your career firing.
How Do I Find an Internship?
News outlets sometimes have internship programs which they offer direct through your university. It's worth investigating this with your tutors. Also, many outlets accept applications online and direct to their office. Send out resumes complete with cover letters outlining your experience and career objectives. Send these documents far and wide, as it doesn't really matter where you land an internship, but the experience you gain working in a news environment. Broadcast journalism internship applications may also require a DVD of your past classwork. If you can provide this, you will stand out from the pack.
Try to send an e-mail to the coordinator of recruitment for the company, as well as the editor, letting them know your application is on its way. This will also help familiarize them with your name.
Make sure you have your submissions in early - towards the end f the school year, or before mid-year holidays. If a news outlets often receive a bottleneck of applications once exams are over, and you are understandably less likely to succeed if you do this.
Remember there's nothing wrong with a little initiative. Even if a news organisation does not actively seek internees, still pursue them.
When you are invited to an interview, it is important to have prepared correctly. Make sure you are attired as a working journalist at the company would be, and your research has been thorough. Stay up to date with developments on the outlet's website and print or broadcast installments, and know important figures in the organization. Make sure you have prepared questions of your own, as this shows you are switched on a genuinely interested in the position. A journalist must have above all things an inquiring mind. Ask about what areas you would be involved in, your duties, who you would report to. Be engaged, and take notes. Make sure you bring yourself into the picture - mesh your goals with the company's.
Internship Tips and Advice
Most journalism internships are unpaid. Your real reward is in experience (and possibly university credits). Be like a sponge and absorb everything. Make network connections where you can, stay up to date with the company's media output, and general current affairs. Don't have any illusions about the so-called glamour of working in a media office - you will work hard, and this work will often include filing paperclips, making coffee and doing vox pops. Accept your duties with grace.
Ensure you come away with more than just university credits when your internship is complete. Get business cards and arrange an interview with your superior to discuss your experience. You can formally thank him or her and ask for a written reference for future job applications or internship positions. Be sure to emphasize the value of your time at the outlet, and part on good terms. The experience you have gained and networking you have done will likely benefit you well into your future career.