How to land an internship and maximize the experience

By Bryan Anderson

It was toward the end of my freshman year when I first began looking for internships. Searching through the database inside the School of Communications Internship Office, I stumbled across the Greensboro Grasshoppers. Though I have an interest in journalism, I wanted to perfect my multimedia skills. After making a cold call to the person in charge of hiring interns, I landed a sit-down interview in Greensboro. Because I didn’t have a car at the time, a friend was kind enough to drive me over. Despite being in my first year of college, I was selected as a media/production intern because of my work in student media at Elon University. I became the first freshman college student the organization had hired in its 10-year history.

Throughout my internship, I worked to hone in on my multimedia journalism skills. I was always the last to leave the office and said ‘yes’ to every opportunity thrown my way. When I make a commitment, I like to invest all of my energy into making my employers proud. By being open to new ideas and willing to embrace challenges, I was able to excel in my internship and was offered another internship the following summer.

In the fall of my sophomore year, I met with a journalism professor who used to work at the Raleigh News & Observer. One of his former students also interned there during her sophomore year. He put me in touch with the internship recruiter. After submitting clips and making multiple phone calls, I was able to get an internship position for the N&O.

Not knowing what to expect on my first day, I was assigned to the political reporting department where I wrote about 40 articles on a host of different topics. I also interviewed several high-profile candidates, including Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. I was able to make the most of my internship experience by performing tasks without being asked, offering story ideas and accepting any article assignment that came my way.

Advice for obtaining an internship

  • Be confident and take the initiative to contact people
  • Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you
  • Talk to faculty members and fellow students about their past internships
  • Give and take: Help others if they have questions for you and reach out to acquaintances
  • Search online for employer contact information and specific individuals
  • Make your cover letter stand out. I enjoy using an anecdotal paragraph to talk about how one experience reflects on the larger skills I have to offer

Advice for maximizing the internship experience

  • Say ‘yes’
  • Ask question if unsure how to do something
  • Be the first to arrive and the last to leave
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