5 questions to ask before applying for journalism internships

By Bridgit Bowden
Photo credit: photologue_np/Flickr
It's time to start thinking about summer internships. Starting the process can be overwhelming, but planning ahead can help you breeze through your applications.

Last year, I applied to more than 10 internships. For me, the process was stressful because I didn't think through all the details before sending applications. If I had planned more, I would have been able to narrow my options, spend more time on each application and manage my stress.  It's important to know what you're looking for in an internship before you go through the often time-consuming process of applying.      

Here are five questions to ask before you start sending your resume left and right. Hopefully, it'll make the process easier.

1. Is this internship paid -- and do I even need a paid internship?

Paid journalism internships can be difficult to find. Most unpaid jobs are less competitive.  But, not everyone can afford not to earn money for a whole summer.  Just know doing an unpaid internship now can lead to a paying gig later in your career.

2. Will I need housing? 

If your internship is not in your hometown, it's important to think about where you'll live. Some internships provide housing, and some leave the search up to you. Will you be near a college campus? Subleasing a student apartment for the summer is a great option.

3. Will I need a car?

Will you be located in a city? Can you use public transportation? Ask your potential employer if you're required to have a vehicle.

4. Will I get clips?

Ask your potential employer what your tasks will be during the internship.  Will you be reporting? Focusing on online content?  Getting coffee (hopefully not)? Make sure the job is something you're interested in doing.

5. Will I make connections relevant to the career I'm pursuing?

Again, think about what you want to get out of an internship. What kind of networking will you be able to do?  Internships are a great way to try something out you think you're be interested in but have never tried. Your career path might just change.

Once you've spent time thinking your options over, get to work on those applications.  Spend some time updating your resume and tailor your cover letters to each job.  If you're a student at the Missouri School of Journalism, the Career Center can help you out with that.

One final tip: Don't let rejection get you down. Last summer, I didn't get a single offer.  I ended up staying at school and working as an editor and producer at KBIA, mid-Missouri's NPR affiliate. While there, I learned more than I could have asked for from any competitive national internship.

Things will work out -- just maybe not the way you've planned.

Not sure where to find journalism internships?  Check out ONA's Next Gen or JournalismJobs.com.

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