Your internship awaits
Internships no longer are optional for today’s media students. In fact, most students undertake more than one during their college careers. Employers demand real-world experience, and nothing delivers like internships.
The Indiana University Media School and the College of Arts and Sciences career team work with students to develop search strategies for identifying, applying for and successfully completing internships.
But the best source of information may come from students who already have a few internships on their resumes.
Disney ABC Television Group, Burbank, California
Duties: Assisted on sets, facilitated asset management for editors and developed an efficient system of organization for wrap materials.
Advice: Make finding an internship a priority. It’s tough, but it takes time to do research and tailor cover letters. If you have connections, use them! If you don’t fear not! Show people your passions until you make the connections.
To make the most of an internship, set goals. In addition to putting your all into the work given to you, be sure to identify what you want to learn more about, whom you’d like to meet and any other questions you may have. Curiosity is key.
KRBD Community Radio News, Ketchikan, Alaska
Duties: Recorded audio, reported on local and regional stories, wrote scripts, produced and mixed down reports, hosted the station’s live Morning Edition broadcast and conducted live on-air interviews with guests from around Ketchikan.
Advice: KRBD is a teeny, tiny public radio station. I was one of five full-time employees. Like many of you, I initially only applied to big newsrooms during my internship search: CNN, NPR, Slate, etc. I wanted a bustling, high-pressure internship.
But my time at KRBD has provided me with more real-world reporting and production experience than any internship in a huge newsroom would have. Here, I got to touch every part of the production process. I created and hosted my own investigative series. I hosted Morning Edition.
These are experiences and responsibilities that would never have been handed to me in a bigger media market. So, apply to the small newsrooms and local newspapers. Chances are, you’ll get to do a lot more than get coffee and make copies.
WFHB Bloomington Community Radio, Bloomington
Duties: Field reported on feature stories in and around town, conducted interviews for daily/community news stories from the WFHB newsroom and edited audio for daily evening news read using Audacity.
- No internship is small.
- Every internship gives you a ton of experience which would be helpful at some point in the future.
- Give your 100 percent wherever you go. Employers look for honest commitment and will reward them in due time.
- Never shy away from expressing your thoughts, because employers don’t prefer a “yes man” and want interns who can think on their feet.
- Most importantly: If you enjoy the work you do, it will reflect in your performance.
- It is not necessary for the internship to be based out of a big city. Wherever you get an opportunity, please take it. This is the age to take risks!
Rubenstein Public Relations, New York
Duties: Drafted pitch ideas and sent them to the media, distributed press releases, created media lists, researched, helped plan and staff events, and created clips.
Advice: I knew I wanted to experience interning in New York City, so with the help of my career adviser, I researched PR firms on the city Chamber of Commerce website. To make the most of my internship, I always ask to do more and to be given more responsibility. No one is ever impressed by the person who does the bare minimum.
Young Hollywood, Beverly Hills, California
Duties: Slated celebrity interviews, timed interviews, set up studio before talents arrived, created call sheets for field shots, helped making Instagram and Snapchat stories and wrote interview questions for hosts.
Advice: My advice to students looking for internships is to connect with as many people as possible and network whenever you can. Almost everyone is willing to help.
I have a mentor out in Los Angeles who I connected with through a friend from freshman year. I remembered that her brother worked for Access Hollywood, so I asked for his phone number. We set up a time to chat, and he spoke with me about his career and later talked about potential internships. He is very connected in the entertainment industry and will be very helpful in the future. It is all about who you know!
Asexma A.G., Santiago, Chile
Duties: Created Twitter and Facebook page updates sharing news about the Chilean and world economies and took photographs at events to share on social media.
Advice: Just go for it! My internship experience was unique, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I was able to practice speaking and writing in Spanish, take photos and work with social media pages. It was hard — especially with the language barrier — sometimes, but if you stay positive, you can get a lot out of your experience.
The National Student, London
Duties: Wrote articles related to sports, news, politics and arts/entertainment; covered live events, including the reopening of the Borough Market after the terrorist attacks; edited content written by other writers; posted content to the website; shared content on social media; and monitored a news wire to give writers story ideas.
Advice: I would suggest taking advantage of the fantastic programs The Media School has to offer. Once at your internship, don’t just be complacent with whatever you are asked to do. Make sure you go above and beyond, and ask to undertake more assignments and projects. Your hard work will not go unnoticed, and you may even be offered a job at the completion of the internship. I was thrilled to be offered the assistant news editor position at The National Student, and I am honored to be the publication’s first international employee.
FC Dallas, Frisco, Texas
Duties: Reported and wrote stories on the team, created graphics, managed social media channels, recorded voiceovers, helped with on-camera productions and maintained the team’s website.
Advice: Finding internships is the easy part — being able to land them is where it gets tricky. While I was fortunate enough to kind of have my internship fall into my lap, it’s not hard to do a but of research and come up with three or four realistic internships for you to aim for.
When applying, any prior experience with the company or the area of the internship is very helpful. I had spent a summer as an independent reporter covering FC Dallas for a website, but having that experience to point to helped show the company that I already had the knowledge necessary for the internship. Being able to relate to the company is also a plus, so doing some research into what they’re all about won’t hurt either.
In terms of making the most of the internship, the biggest thing is just being willing to do whatever they ask of you. Obviously take care of yourself and don’t overwork yourself, but don’t be afraid to work extra or do something outside of your comfort zone (or your internship zone) if they ask.
KXAN News, Austin, Texas
Duties: Shot standups, wrote and shot voiceover-to-sound, produced packages, conducted interviews, assisted with production, wrote teasers for daily shows and pitched story ideas.
Advice: Be aggressive, but not too aggressive! Call the news desk, send emails, follow up — even if you don’t get a response. Seek employees at your dream companies on LinkedIn and message them — ask them how they got their job! The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t get a response or you get a “no.” Hey, at least you tried and got your name out there!
Detroit Chop Shop, Detroit
Duties: Produced, edited and shot the Detroit Chop Show Video Diaries Season 6, a YouTube documentary/reality TV series; recorded sounds; edited graphics; and created the commercial sound library Action Movie Sound Effects Library.
Advice: It took several years of persistence and exercising some savvy networking skills for me to land this unique opportunity. Just know what you want out of your life and career, and make a daily commitment to pursue it. Eventually you will get noticed for your passion and skills, and if you’re faithful with little opportunities, the big ones will open up at the right time.
Duties: Edited and created video, cut highlights, assisted with research, fact checked and logged games.
Advice: Search and apply early. Apply to anywhere and everywhere you think would help you—the worst they can do is say no. Think not just about what you can get out of the internship (skills, relationships, etc.), but also about how you can add value, even as an intern.
Emmis Communications, Indianapolis
Duties: Wrote consumer blog posts, produced social media posts and did voiceovers for app review videos.
Advice: Networking! Simply having a conversation with a family member or friend can help you out, because they might have connections.
WebMD, New York
Duties: Pulled reports, created audiences, set up deals and learned about the industry.
Advice: Take full advantage of the people you know, because even if they can’t help, they may know someone who can.
ExteNet Systems Inc., Lisle, Illinois
Duties: Created advertisements and external marketing materials, helped prepare a film set for a live-steam interview, created visual aids for presentations and established a weekly email updating staff on key events occurring around the telecommunications industry.
Advice: Finding an internship can be hard. It can feel like there is so much competition. My advice to fellow students is to first meet with a career adviser and evaluate your SWOT analysis to help determine which career opportunities might be best for you. Then, I would advise that students go onto the Walter Center Career Services website and apply for any internships available, especially ones that apply to your SWOT analysis.
After that, I would check in on when career fairs are and which companies will be there. Research what they do and why they want to recruit you. Impressing a recruiter is one of the best ways to get your foot in the door for a potential interview for a job or internship. Always make sure to get a recruiter’s business card (and give them your resume) and send a follow-up email. It will go a long way in the filtration process for recruiters. If they can remember you, you are more likely to get the job.
Duties: Provided on-site assistance at field and studio shoots.
Advice: Networking is extremely important. Talk to professors, friends, family, advisers — anyone who can help you get your foot in the door — if you don’t know where to start.
Once you have your internship, utilize every opportunity you have there to get to know the other employees and gain knowledge of different equipment or software. If you don’t have an assignment, go around and ask if there’s anything you can shadow, or make something on Premiere or Final Cut to expand your editing knowledge. The worst thing you can do is sit at a desk for hours doing nothing.
I don’t have as much knowledge with audio as I would like, so I asked one of the audio guys if I could sit in with him for a couple hours, and I gained knowledge during that time that I wouldn’t have gotten if I didn’t get out of the chair and ask. Accept every opportunity that comes your way, and never think a job is beneath you.
Finally, enjoy every moment of what you do. You’re doing something you love. Take time to appreciate that.
The Herald-Times, Bloomington
Duties: Produced daily sports video package content for the website; anchored, hosted and reported on all IU sports; assisted with social media content; edited all video packages; served as on-air talent; and attended, shot and edited press conferences, b-roll, sporting events, interviews and more.
Advice: First off, I want to say be as involved in extracurricular activities and student media as humanly possible. The number one thing interviewers told me was how impressed they were with how much I did during my time on campus and throughout summers.
Secondly, start thinking early (November and December), start applying early (January and February) and apply to as many internships as you possibly can. I know it’s tedious and stressful, but having options to pick the best to support your desired career path is so important. Each internship is different and will provide you with different opportunities that will help push you and make you better.
Picking your internship is kind of like picking your college, because you wat to find the best possible fit to help you better yourself for your future career.
TigerBeat magazine, New York
Duties: Created polls and wrote content for the website, assisted with article research and helped with online Shopify orders.
Advice: Honestly, the best thing I’ve ever done is just apply to anything and everything. Even if you think you’re not qualified, you’ll never know who will reply to you. Also, make sure you have a cover letter that really shows your personality. It sets you apart from everyone else.
Reporters Without Borders East Asia, Taiwan
Duties: Working on press and media freedom initiatives
Advice: If you value an organization’s mission, don’t be afraid to establish a relationship with them early on. Once you dive into your college career, it’s great to follow up with those connections you’ve made.
Everyone tells you how important networking is, but I never took it seriously until an internship came out of it! I would encourage students to network out of the conventional ways of career fairs, but rather use faculty and previous employers to guide you into the industry you’d like to work in one day.
HTTV LA 62.3, Inwindale, California
Duties: Reported and edited video stories for the Weekly Economic News, recorded audio for news stories and anchored for the Evening News and Weekly Economic News.
Advice: If you are a Chinese student and want to be an anchor, reporter or producer, this is a great chance to get broadcasting experience in the States.
Bohlsen Group, Indianapolis
Duties: Assisted with writing press releases, strategy documents, pitches and other written deliverables; organized and prepared client promotional materials for distribution; research and compiled media distribution lists; assisted with market research and media outreach; and engaged in social media on behalf of the company and its clients.
Advice: Use your connections. Don’t be afraid to ask friends to put you in contact with people that can help you get your foot in the door. Additionally, start your search early! A lot of internship programs have early deadlines, and you don’t want to miss out on a good opportunity.
Media Mix, Evansville, Indiana
Duties: Assisted with web design, migrated content to new website, gathered marketing materials for client banners and signage, and provided on-site assistance at commercial shoots.
Advice: 1. Apply to every internship opportunity, even if you feel you’re not qualified enough. 2. Ask everyone you know if they have a friend in the media or advertising industry (chances are, they do). 3. Research companies you would want to intern with, and if they don’t have a formal internship program, offer up an informal one!
The New York Times, New York
Duties: Edited copy for the foreign, national, business, metro and sports desks; fact checked; wrote headline and other pieces.
Advice: Read every email that comes out with internship listings. Check all listings you can in order to find what’s out there.
Any time you meet with alumni, get business cards and keep in touch. Take advantage of every opportunity you’re given.
As far as making the most of the internship, ask questions. You will learn so much more by asking questions.