By the end of a student's collegiate career, they have spent more than enough time in a classroom. Countless homework assignments are followed by essays and tests. But there is no substitute for experience; by the time many students reach their senior year, they begin preparations for the exciting opportunity to participate in an internship.
Internships within the journalism and public relations department typically last about a length of a semester and are worth between 3-15 credits.
Dr. Ron Raymond is the internship coordinator for students within the department.
“The student actually will begin the process of setting up the internship by contacting the organization they are interested in interning with,” Raymond said. “But we also have a list of organizations that have accepted interns in the past.”
Additionally, Raymond recommended that students consider taking internships later in their college years.
“First of all you might get hired out of it. Secondly, even if you don’t, you’ve probably made contacts willing to give you a strong reference. That can open up other doors for you. That’s why I lean towards taking it in your last couple of semesters because there’s more opportunity there.”
Raymond also mentioned that there are a wide variety of options when it comes to choosing internships.
“Students work for hospitals, working in the local media and non-profit organizations. It can be in a variety of capacities.”
An Edinboro graduate of communication studies, Amanda Burkley, worked for the non-profit organization known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
“It was a lot of fun,” Burkley said. “I definitely learned a lot about what non-profit organizations are about.”
“I want to work for a non-profit, but instead of working for the cancer center or JDRF, I think I’m going to work for animal shelters, like the ASPCA.”
There seems to be quite a few misconceptions about how much work goes into a non-profit organization. Burkley came to realize this in her time as an intern.
“I originally thought it was going to be solely about fundraising, but it’s not. There’s a lot of other stuff you have to do for it too. It was definitely a learning experience.”
JDRF is the leading diabetes research foundation. That being said, what goes into a normal day as an intern?
“Not every day is the same. There would be days where I would work on their monthly newsletter. There would be days where I would have to work on flyers that other non-profit organizations would ask us to help with. There would be days I would be making phone calls to different schools to see if they wanted to participate in the walks. There would be days where we would go on visits with new diabetics.”
Each year, towards the end of March, JDRF holds a fundraising event. Burkley experienced first-hand how much work went into that event.
“Through the first few months, it was a lot of making phone calls, getting donations, sending out thank-you letters, sending out invitations for the event, doing the set-up for the event, running the event and then going through inventory at the end of the event. You gain more than experience in whatever career field you’re thinking of.”
When it comes to the job market, there is nothing more important than experience. Yet sometimes, students may have trouble transitioning from working in the classroom to working in a professional setting.
“From an educational standpoint, the classes and the curriculum should prepare you well for an internship,” Raymond said. “It’s a great opportunity to marry your educational and professional goals together.”
Raymond also spoke fondly of his job as internship coordinator and it seems like he really enjoys working with students. “If somebody comes to me and they say, ‘I’d like to do an internship and I have absolutely nowhere to go.’ Then, the two of us will talk about their goals. It’s students and myself working closely together.”
Raymond is also relatively new to the job of internship coordinator. He’s been doing the job for “less than a year.” Even though he only just started, Raymond spoke fondly of his position.
“I love it. I get to work with students, helping to set it up (the internship) and walk them through the process, which is pretty neat. Midway through the semester, I’ll make an on-site visit and I’ll talk to whoever the site supervisor is at the organization. And that’s fantastic because it gives me an opportunity to meet new people and find out more about their organization. In almost every situation, they’re generally very, very happy with the performance of the students, which reflects well on the university.”
Working as the internship coordinator also allowed Raymond the chance to expand his own horizons.
“I love the fact that I’m able to... establish relationships that may be long term. I think it’s been really rewarding from that standpoint.”
If you are thinking of a way to get a leg up on the competition in whatever job market you’re going to work in, simply remember that internships are a way to do that.
William Stevens is the Online Editor for The Spectator.