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Education Desk: Why Internships For J-Students Are Crucial


Summer is just a few months away and college students are out looking for internships. From our Education Desk, 90.7’s Catherine Welch talks with UCF Journalism Instructor Rick Brunson about why internships are crucial for journalism students.

Brunson: What has changed, I think, since media has become all mashed up in the last ten years is it's important for students to get a variety of different internship experiences. So we advise our students you should be interning at a radio station, a television station, a newspaper or magazine.

Welch: One of my internships, and this is going to age me a bit, was at This Week With David Brinkley. And while it was very exciting to be around Mr. Brinkley, a legend, all I did was sort mail and to get Mr. Brinkley pizza on Saturdays. It didn't really do a whole lot in terms of creating me as a journalist. What is your sense of scope in terms of the actual work that your students to do in their journalism internships?

Brunson: One thing we do here at UCF at the Nicholson School is we have an employer agreement with all of our internship partners. So our partners whether they're a producer, or a news director, and editor they actually fill out a job description and duties of what the student is going to do. On our end we make sure that they're actually getting to do some real journalism, they're getting it be able to write to research, to edit, to go out with reporters, to shoot photos or video, and to be able to produce something at the end of the internship that they put in there their graduation portfolio. That they can show to a prospective employer and show that this is something that I can do.

Welch:  Have you seen an internship really shaping change a student error perhaps even move the direction they were going in?

Brunson: We have two tracks in our journalism program at UCF: we have a print digital track and we have an electronic track. What's been really cool to see in the last few years is agnosticism when it comes to internship experiences with students in those tracks.

We'll see electronic track students who in their minds are aspiring to a broadcast career, and they're interviewing with digital and print publications. And sometimes we see them go into a newsroom that's kind of not in their major field of study and they switch sides and maybe they go work for a newspaper or maybe they're abroad. This has happened, there a broadcast student and they go into being a videographer or video blogger for a newspaper, because again everything is online now, everybody's doing video, everybody's doing audio and so you really need to be a wide open to the possibilities that the skills that you're going to learn can apply and be used someplace else.

Welch: Where do you stand in the debate paid versus unpaid?

Brunson: We love to see unpaid frankly when our students learn, when they see the internship list of companies are coming, it's a question that they always ask. When they say paid they're not seeing stars in their eyes in terms of big money, even if it's just a stipend that helps cover their gas and tolls. We’re in central Florida every road here to get anywhere is a toll road. So if they see a small stipend that just covers gas and tolls it incentivize is it a little bit.

Although there are excellent non-paid internships where you get rich experience, and you get to do a lot of things that fatten your portfolio, your experience level, and make you more employable.


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