Two sentence description of what you did: I reported and wrote breaking news, daily and enterprise articles about courts, crime and town politics for the Long Island desk.
Major at Dartmouth: Government
1. What was most satisfying about your internship? I love journalism because I get the chance to learn something new every day. I'm never stuck behind a desk for long periods of time — instead, the bulk of my time is spent talking to people and learning about their stories and perspectives. When I am behind a desk, I'm investigating longer-term pieces or crafting cogent ledes. Being a breaking news intern at Newsday means that I come to work with little to no idea about what I'll actually be doing, which is so exciting. What's most personally satisfying is that "aha" moment when the story comes together, and does so in a way that breathes life into an otherwise dry or complex issue.
2. What’s the best way to enter your field? Any essential elements of preparation? Networking: The world of journalism is super small. Everyone knows each other, which means networking is essential to both finding and ultimately landing internships and jobs. But, before you network, you need to have the skills and experience to back you up. Google your favorite journalists and use LinkedIn to see how they got where they are, and what sorts of skills helped them get there. Use the Dartmouth Alumni Network to search for journalists and ask for career advice.
Multimedia skills: It's also essential to be comfortable with photo/video/audio-editing software. That doesn't mean you have to be a professional, but you should be able to produce a multimedia package. Jones Media Center often has workshops on Photoshop and other softwares, and you can also access free tutorials on HTML and what not through sites like Lynda.
Clips: Still, internships alone aren't enough — it's the clips that you get at those internships are what will ultimately set you apart from other candidates. Have a wide variety of clips, from breaking news, to features, to analytical pieces across a wide variety of subject matter. Most places ask for three to five clips.
Internships: Internships are so essential, and media outlets nowadays really expect you to have at least one journalism internship before they'd even consider hiring you. Don't get hung up on "big name papers" — instead, look at the skills and experiences they picked up along their path and figure out ways to develop those skills yourself. Small papers/media outlets can often be even more formative experiences for young journalists as they often are able to help train journalists on a more personal level.
Applying to jobs/internships: Do your research before sending out your package of clips, cover letter, references and resume — think of it as your first assignment. Find out who are the recruiters at the media outlets you'd like to work for one day, and start working relationships with them. This means everything from sending them clips to updates on your career (but not constantly, of course). Keep in touch with editors at past papers you've worked at, as they can often give you good leads on jobs or let you know of a position opening up at that very paper! This is an example of ways that internships can lead to jobs. Send your package on — or preferably ahead of — deadline, figure out who to address it to, and make sure you have no awkward typos.
Job-training programs: Lastly, keep an eye out job training programs like the Los Angeles Times Metpro, NPR's Fellowship programs, Gannett Talent Development Program, the Atlantic Media Company's Fellowship program, etc. Also, think of journalism graduate school carefully. Think about what you want to get from J-school before you apply/enroll in a senior year haze.
3. What advice would you give to others seeking opportunities in this field? I'd highly recommend joining a journalism organization, like the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors, etc. Joining an organization (at a discounted student rate!) shows that you're seriously interested in becoming a better journalist. These groups host annual/biannual conferences featuring professional development workshops, mentoring programs, job fairs, etc.
These organizations also have chapters that offer get-togethers, student scholarships and internship opportunities, etc. I'd also recommend awesome journalism training programs like the Chips Quinn Scholars Program, The New York Times Student Journalism Institute, the Sports Journalism Institute, etc. While you're in school, seek out freelancing and stringing opportunities to keep your skills polished.
And lastly, don't be afraid to just ask questions and create your own opportunities. Last spring, I cold-called every D.C. news bureau and pitched myself. I landed an internship at a national wire service and developed several relationships with potential employers — including The Los Angeles Times, who hired me as a D.C. intern for this upcoming summer. You might feel like a weirdo, but as long as you know your goals for the internship and what you can contribute, you're gold. In the meantime, check out some tips on landing an internship, learn some data and business reporting skills (here's a list of bootcamps), and make sure you have a professional social media presence. Oh, and seek Dartmouth funds to host unpaid journalistic opportunities.
Note: Want to learn more about internships in Communications? Don't miss our panel February 21, 4:30 PM in Career Services. Sign up today!