Some of you may have noticed that I have not been updating as of late. For those of you who don’t know, I am a college student, and have just completed my sophomore year at Amherst College. This semester was also filled with assignments from my internship at New England Public Radio. At the risk of possible conflict of interest, I refrained from my usual media blogging.
However, with the end of a school year also brings the end of my internship. This, however, is the beginning of tips from my first journalism internship.
- Do keep up with schoolwork If you happen to have an internship during the school year, wanting to prove yourself as vital member of the news team, not just a college intern, is natural. But letting your schoolwork slip is not the way to do it. When I’ve had too many assignments and just under so much stress, I have taken off time off from work. Your bosses will understand as long as you give them enough notice and make up your hours.
- You don’t have to know everything before you start. Internships are learning experiences, and for someone who goes to a school with no journalism program, I’m super grateful for all that I learned on the job. Just try to pick up skills and get the office’s routine down and you should be fine.
- In broadcast, tape is key. A hard lesson I learned while working in radio was you could do all the research you wanted and do some rockin’ interviews, but unless you get it on tape and find some suitable sound bites for your story, you don’t really have anything. I was quick to learn this even though it’s such a stark contrast to the print journalism I did prior to my internship. There are always possible derailments to getting tape in radio–the subject doesn’t call back before your deadline, they call back but they don’t want to talk to you, or, they are willing to talk but they don’t want to be recorded. In radio, you have to find ways around these mishaps, most of the time, depending on the story.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. I feel like this statement is true in life, but especially in radio. Yes, be serious when conducting interviews by staying on topic or when writing up your script (I have made a few mistakes myself). But also be yourself and relax. You get some of your best tape from interviewees when they feel you’re having a conversation, not interrogation. The best stories don’t necessarily sound like straight-up news reports, but more like the voice of the story is talking to you, explaining something like a friend would (this took me a long time to learn as well). Also, while dress code ranges from workplace to workplace, as you continue to work, you’ll learn what you may be able to get away with.
Take it from me. My first day, I was dressed like this:
And by my last day, I was more laid-back.
- Lastly, keep in touch. Okay, so remember how I said “Don’t take yourself too seriously”? While that’s still important to keep in mind, it’s very possible to not take yourself seriously and maintain competency. This is important. Take your job seriously–do a great job, have a good attitude and respect your co-workers. It could pay off in the long run, in terms of asking for advice or other tasks that could open up at the office after your internship is long over.
For the final assignment of my internship, I completed a feature about the recent changes to College Board’s SAT. This was probably one of my favorite parts of the program because I got to pitch the topic, traveled across western Massachusetts to do interviews, and voiced a longer piece than my usual cut-and-scripts and spots. But don’t take my word for it. You can listen/read all my assignments from the links on my Resume page.
Are there any tips you have journalism internships or working in general? Share in the comments below!