Journalism Internships: FAQs and Myths
· MYTH:"The best internships are paid."
Not true. Some of the best internships are with media outlets that attract many applicants but don't offer compensation. But these opportunities can be the gateway to jobs because "experience" itself is prized by employers.
· MYTH:"It's better to intern for a big name media company than a small one."
Employers look for the most qualified candidates to fill job openings. You might get to do a lot more substantive work for a small newspaper than a large national paper. Prospective employers are more likely to be impressed by the responsibilities you had than the name of the company you interned for.
· MYTH:"I'm graduating this spring, so I should be looking for a job, not an internship."
Of course you should be looking for a full-time job. But consider doing an internship as a back-up plan. With the current state of the media and the economy, good entry-level positions might be difficult to come by. An internship certainly beats unemployment. And sometimes media companies hire interns who do a good job.
· FAQ:"When should I start looking for a summer internship?"
Your strategy will vary depending on your goal. If your target is a big name company in a big city, start applying at least four months ahead of summer. Check company listings -- many have specific application dates, and some as early as eight months prior to summer! The summer internship application deadline for the Washington Post, for example, is November 1.
· FAQ:"When should I start looking for a fall or spring internship?"
Allowing yourself at least a 10-week lead time is a good rule. If you plan to intern during the fall, you should launch your internship search no later than mid-June. For an internship beginning in January, try to get your resumes out by mid-October.
· FAQ:"Why won't some companies allow me to intern unless I receive college credit?"
It's illegal for profit-making companies to have people perform work for no compensation. But federal compensation laws make an exception for college students who enroll for credit and intern in a field specifically related to their college studies.