Tuesday, February 22, 2011

When should I start interning?

Q: I am in my first year of college and I really don't know where to start. Should I be interning now or do I have to wait? What can I do to gain experience? -- S.R.

A: The first thing you should do is get involved in campus media. Before you apply for internships at newspapers, radio stations, TV shows, etc., it really helps to get some experience working on school newspaper, TV station, etc. This way you'll have some work samples (newspaper articles, a reel, etc) to show when you apply for internships.

Ideally, you should try to intern somewhere every summer. Initially, you'll probably have to take an unpaid internship. But after you have one or two under your belt, you might be able to land a much-coveted paid internship if you have a good portfolio.

When you apply for jobs, hiring editors and media recruiters probably won't even ask about your GPA. What they care most about is 1) where you have interned, and 2) your work samples. In addition, having multimedia skills is really important if you want to work in journalism these days.

Learn how to shoot and edit video, make podcasts, use a digital camera and Photoshop, understand basic HTML, etc. If your college does not offer courses in those areas, there are summer programs available and/or you could teach yourself through online tutorials and books such as "Building Websites for Dummies." I've taught myself a lot about multimedia and convergence journalism through those kinds of self-help guides.  â€“Mark Grabowski