What is an internship and what does it entail?
An internship is a form combining academic studies with professional activities. Students can augment classroom learning by working in the media. By completing suitable academic work under the direction of a faculty member and a professional, students may earn three hours of academic credit. Students may earn a total of three hours of credit during their undergraduate career.
Several dozen students complete formal internships in electronic media every year, even though an internship for academic credit is not a graduation requirement. The electronic journalism faculty strongly encourages students to consider an internship as their one elective course. In addition to a formal academic internship, many electronic journalism students work part-time for many area broadcast and media outlets.
More specifically, to earn internship credit, the electronic journalism student must:
- Work at least 140 hours at the organization where the student is interning. Usually, this involves working 10 hours a week for 14 weeks. During the summer months students work 8 to 10 weeks to accumulate the 140 hours.
- Maintain an electronic version of all work they completed during the internship.
- Submit reports to the internship coordinator that outlines the progress of the student's work and notes any potential successes or areas of possible improvement.
- Have an exit interview based on a written evaluation with the internship coordinator at the electronic media outlet.
The internship coordinator may check with the on-site supervisor by e-mail or telephone. Unless all steps in the process are completed to the satisfaction of the sponsor and the intern coordinator, the intern will NOT receive academic credit for the internship.
Undergraduate internships are graded S/U. An "S" means the intern has satisfactorily completed all requirements and is entitled to credit. A "U" means the intern has not completed such requirements, and is therefore not entitled to credit. Graduate students receive grades.
The three credits count as JOUR 597.
Why do an internship?
An internship provides the bridge between the theoretical and the practical; between an academic setting and the workplace; between the School and the professional community.
An internship also is a testing tool. It allows a student to gain firsthand experience in a particular field of interest. The opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge while investigating possible career choices permits the student to make more informed decisions in many areas. The ideal internship is one in which the student is convinced at the conclusion of the experience that he/she has made the correct career choice.
Ideally, a student applying for Electronic Journalism internships will be a junior or senior. A recommendation from a SJMC faculty member or demonstration of previous journalism experience could also qualify a student for an internship. Completion of JOUR 361 is preferred, but not required.
The student should position the internship to provide maximum benefit to his/her career. For some this will be prior to the capstone senior semester and for others it will be after. Students selecting the former internship placement will be finely-tuned for the upcoming senior semester experience and those choosing the latter will offer their electronic media placement a ready-to-be-employed young professional.
Choosing an Internship
The first decision the student must make is to determine whether he/she wishes to remain in Columbia for the internship experience. The school maintains exceptionally close ties with all area electronic media outlets that almost assure an internship placement.
Should a student wish to leave Columbia, the internship coordinator will work with the student to process appropriate application paperwork to best insure the student receives the placement he/she desires.
Students from the school have an excellent placement record at both statewide and national electronic internship opportunities.
Once a sponsor agrees to take an intern, the intern coordinator processes a contract that gives students the opportunity to enroll for credit.
Will electronic media internships pay either a salary or tuition?
The reality of the electronic media business is that there are so many students desiring internship experience, media outlets do not feel compelled to pay student interns or provide them with tuition reimbursement, unlike print and advertising/public relations internships.
When can internships be taken?
Internships are offered during fall, spring, and summer terms. For a summer internship, credits are awarded for the Summer II session only, although interns are well advised to begin the internship early in the summer or as soon as possible after the end of the spring term.
What if the internship isn't working out?
If this is the case, you should immediately contact the intern coordinator so that the situation can be corrected as soon as possible. Don't wait until it's too late.
What if a student wants to work beyond the 140 hours?
Electronic media outlets may not require students to work beyond the 140 hours or assign deadlines that conflict with other academic responsibilities. However, students may voluntarily extend the number of hours of the internship.
May you do more than one internship?
Yes, but not for credit. Unfortunately the reality of the modern electronic media workplace is that most outlets will not, because of liability concerns, allow you to work without receiving academic credit. Thus, because you are limited to one three-hour academic internship, you will most likely not be offered any additional opportunities.
You are encouraged, however, to gain as much part-time work experience as you can. Such experience will be impressive on your resume.