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Internship FAQs

What is the purpose of an internship?
An internship allows you to apply what you've been learning in classes to a professional setting. The experience will help you test your interest in the field and assess your preparation for the workplace. It can also introduce you to people who can be helpful resources when you are looking for a job after graduation.

Who is required to get an internship?
Internships are required for Journalism and Business Journalism majors. They are optional for students in the Mass Communications sequence. Only declared Journalism and Mass Communications majors are eligible to receive credit for internships.

How do I go about finding an internship?
You must find your own internship. The department will not grant credit for an internship that you obtain through a paid finder service. Department faculty and staff will be happy to provide you with tips and leads for finding an internship. The best way to find an internship is to apply for many. Develop a strategy in the fall, research the application process and deadlines for the companies where you would like to work that summer. Attend a departmental information session, examine the department's web site, talk to your professors about good places to work, watch this site for more information and internship opportunities. If you wish to receive credit for an internship, you must meet with the department's internship coordinator, by the third week of November before the spring or summer in which you intend to serve your internship.

Do I need a resume?
Yes. If you haven't already, start assembling a resume now. The Career Services Web site is a good starting place. However, Journalism and Mass Communications resumes are different from those in many other fields. Check the resume page on this website for special tips and be sure to have the intern coordinator or a department faculty member review your resume before you send it out. Be sure to emphasize any writing or communication experience. Make sure your resume adheres to Associated Press style, is absolutely accurate and contains no typos, misspellings or grammatical errors. The applications will also ask for a cover letter and clips.

What are cover letters and clips?
News organizations and communications companies want to know if you can write, so a cover letter is your most important writing sample. Its purpose is to introduce yourself to a potential employer and distinguish you from other applicants. The letter should be direct, well-written and no more than one page. It should reflect something about you that is not apparent from your resume. Again, check the resume page on this website for tips and show your cover letter draft to the intern coordinator or any of the journalism professors for review before you send it out.

Clips are published examples of your work. Class assignments are not acceptable, but published stories are, including, usually, work you did for The Rockbridge Report. Work from a campus newspaper may be acceptable; sometimes work from a high school newspaper is acceptable, provided you have a department faculty member review and help you select your clips first. Typically, people make copies of the articles on 81/2 x 11-inch paper; be sure to include the publication's name and date. Increasingly, employers will accept clips you display on a personal Web site (not Facebook or MySpace) if it is clear that the work is from a publication, but always check first. Four to six clips are usually fine, unless the application asks for more. Select clips that show strong reporting and writing and, if possible, your range. An employer will assume that you consider this your best work, so don't include articles with typos or inside campus humor that will not translate well to an outside audience.

Where can my internship be?
Your internship may be anywhere in the world. For Journalism and Business Journalism majors, it must be with a news organization. These include newspapers, magazines, broadcasting stations, or internet news organizations. Students in the Mass Communications sequence may intern with news organizations; public relations, marketing or advertising firms; or a communications department within a company.

If I'm focused on print, do I have to have a print internship?
No. Journalism or Business Journalism majors can have an electronic (broadcast) internship or a print internship. The only requirement is that it must be with a news organization.

Do I get any class credit?
You may receive up to three credits for an approved internship.

What is required for my internship to count for three credits?
You must work at least 300 hours and keep a daily journal. After your internship is over, you must submit the journal and a portfolio of your work to the Journalism Department. Then, you will write a 10-page paper explaining what you learned from your experience and make an oral presentation to other students and faculty. Again, to receive any credit for an internship, you must meet with the internship coordinator by the third week of November of the academic year before you serve your internship.

When do my internship credits show up on my transcript?
For a summer internship, the three credits appear as J453 for a News Internship (internships for Journalism or Business Journalism majors) or J463 for a Communications Internship (internships for Mass Communications sequence students). You typically register for the course as an overload the fall term after your internship. In other words, you must take at least 12 credits in addition to J453 or J463.

Do I have to do my internship in the summer?
No. You may have an internship any term, with the internship coordinator's permission. You can also split your internship credits between terms. For example, you can earn two credits with a summer internship of at least 200 hours (which shows up on your transcripts in the fall) and earn one credit of internship in the fall, by working 100 hours during the term.

Can I do two summer internships?
Yes, but you may receive only a maximum of three credits. If one internship is paid, you may want to consider it simply a summer job.

Do I need anyone's permission before taking an internship?
Yes. Anyone seeking credit for an internship must meet and discuss her or his plans with the intern coordinator. That meeting must take place by the third week of November before the spring or summer in which you intend to serve your internship. However, do not hesitate to seek advice from the department's other faculty members. Every professor is happy to offer guidance about the profession and potential internship hosts.

When should I intern?
Most students intern for credit the summer between their junior and senior years. Also, you must be a declared Journalism or Mass Communications major for your internship to count for credits.

Can I do my internship earlier than that?
If you are a Journalism or Business Journalism major, the department requires that you take J253 or J263 before you intern for J451, J452 or J453 credit. That prerequisite may be waived with permission of the internship coordinator and the department head. If you are a Mass Communications sequence major, you should not take an internship before having J201. The idea of an internship is to apply what you learn in class to the real world. If you have little class experience, you cannot apply this to the internship.

How far in advance should I start looking for an internship?
Begin looking for an internship during the fall before the summer you want to intern. The process may be long and tedious, so you want to allow yourself enough time to look, schedule interviews, and secure the job before the end of Spring Term.

Are all internships paid?
No. You can receive credit for a paid or unpaid internship. The ideal internship is one in which you receive a paycheck and credit. But many internships don't pay. The department has some money available to help students who secure unpaid internships. Students seeking department assistance should respond to e-mail notices about the scholarships and grants, which are circulated during winter and spring terms.

What should I be looking for in a good internship?
Look for an opportunity to gain real experience in a field in which you think you want to work. Avoid positions in which you will be doing only clerical work.

Where else can I go for information?
Besides this web site, bulletin boards located in the Reid Hall library and the lab on the third floor are used to post any internship positions that the department receives. The internship coordinator also gives information sessions throughout the year that you should attend.