Thoughts from Profs: Internships

By: Amy Rogan, Pulse Adviser

The Communication Department at the University of Findlay is very proud that one of its journalism majors recently won a company-wide contest during her summer internship at Spectrum News 1 Ohio. Olivia Wile won the best video for a “day in the life of an intern”. Which reminded me of my own internships and the invaluable experience they offered me.

When I was in college at the University of Findlay studying Communication we did not have the fine TV studio and control room we have now. UFTV did not exist yet so I was forced to look elsewhere for some real-life experience.

My first internship was at an independent station, WFND, in Findlay. It was the smallest of the small newsrooms. The news wires came in on a dot matrix computer and part of my duties was to “rip wire” and hang the stories on the designated nail (Ohio news, weather, sports, etc.) A reporter and I once actually chased a fire engine through town to find out what was going on. Those were the days…

My next internship was at WTVG in Toledo the summer before my senior year. I had to report to the station at 5:30 a.m. and would work until 1 p.m. I helped the morning and noon producers write and edit their shows. It was there that I locked myself in an editing bay and taught myself how to edit video on the huge tape machines that were standard at the time. This came in handy for my first paying job in TV as a part-time video editor.

I would get done in Toledo about 1 p.m., drive back to Findlay, change and go to work at the mall until 9 p.m. Yes, I was one tired girl. But I kept my eye on the prize.

My last semester in college I did a third internship at WCMH in Columbus. I would drive from Findlay to the central Ohio NBC station every Tuesday and spend the day with reporters, photographers, and producers doing what I could to learn from the people actually working in the business. I spent time interviewing people in every position. This paid off for me as well. I went back to WCMH almost two years later as a part-time assignment editor and worked my way into a producer position.

My internships were invaluable to me. I did everything I could to learn in the classroom but that real-world experience is priceless.

As the UF Center for Career & Professional Development office states on its internship page, “An internship is a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Internships give you the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections in professional fields you are considering for your career path.”

And how! My first internship actually persuaded me to change my emphasis from public relations to broadcast journalism. My last two internships were directly influential to my first two jobs in TV journalism. And at each of those internships I met people who mentored me. I learned how to make the most of my experiences. I built social capital with the people I worked with.

Forbes.com recently published an article on internships stating that research conducted by Bates College and Gallup shows that “at least 80 percent of us want purpose in our work and having an internship during college is the most powerful way to get there.”

Internships are a chance to connect with other interns, future peers and mentors. It’s a chance to stretch yourself and get outside of your comfort zone. You can’t get anywhere if you don’t get moving. Even if it means actually chasing a fire engine.

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