For the hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands (?), hundreds of thousands (?!), perhaps even billions (okay, no) of people in this world that are 'J'-school students, you probably have been searching frivolously for the oh-so-coveted summer internship.
Although there are an overwhelming amount of publications to spend your summer interning with, it may seem like an indecipherable puzzle trying to figure out how to gain a prestigious internship with a national newspaper, magazine, television network, etc. Gathered below is advice from students from all around who have gained internships in their undergraduate careers, ranging from interning for international magazines to doing freelance work for CNN.
According to Jennifer Mills, an NYU student who has interned at cultural magazines ranging from ARTnews to The L, this is essential.
“Applying early is important,” Mills said, “generally, the more prestigious the internship, the earlier the deadline for applying.”
To put things into perspective, look at the LA Times; to apply for a summer position as a reporting intern, the deadline is January 1st and the dealine for their visual journalism internship it is even earlier at December 9th.
This one is especially relevant if you don’t have much internship experience or clips.
“When I first started applying for internships, ed2010 was my best friend. I would literally apply for everything,” stated Mills.
Of course, if you don’t have much experience you will need to be humble and not be too picky with where you end up working, thus, it’s smart to apply to many places in the hopes of attaining the best possible internship for what you offer.
Have a strong portfolio.
Having a strong portfolio shows that you’ve done reporting in the past and also demonstrates what kind of work you are capable of doing.
Clarissa Wei, a rising senior at New York University, couldn’t emphasize this enough. In addition to being a student, Wei has freelanced for LA Weekly, the Village Voice and the New York Times. Short story long: she knows what she is talking about.
Your portfolio doesn’t have to consist of clips from other prominent publications to necessarily capture the interest of a major publication. You could simply write for your school’s paper or start a blog: as long as you demonstrate an ability to write well, and excellent reporting skills, you should be fine. Whatever you do, be sure the writing is yours and not plaigarized.
This is one way in which Wei started building up her portfolio. According to her, freelancing starts with finding the right contact at a publication to reach out to. Once you know who you need to be talking to, simply pitch whatever story you want! If they take it that's great, if not less work for you!
Worst comes to worst, you could always just settle for a summer job.
(Photo at http://www.flickr.com/photos/canburak/461496787/)