I recently got a call from my mentee “Steve,” who was upset about not getting into the prestigious — and competitive — Sports Journalism Institute summer internship program. The program was created in 1993 to help college students interested in sports journalism careers and enhance racial and gender diversity in sports departments nationwide.
Steve really felt that he should have been accepted, but I could have told him that he was never going to get into the program. Why? No one looking at his resume and body of work would have accepted him into their program. He thought all he had to do is play a sport (and he doesn’t play football or basketball) and major in journalism. He hasn’t participated in his school’s campus media outlets, nor has he done a single internship. And he attends a school that doesn’t have a strong journalism school.
Steve failed to understand just how competitive internships specifically and journalism in general is. He doesn’t understand that there are students who hustle to start internships during their freshman year. There are students whose schools have great connections to programs or who have their own network of connections. And sports is particularly brutal because so many students want to get a foot in the door for a limited number of slots.
Unfortunately, Steve isn’t the only student I know who is in this predicament. I am truly shocked at how many students of color who think all they need to do is get a degree and it’s off to the races. But how are you going to get a journalism job if you don’t have a portfolio that shows off your skills? How are you going to show that you can survive — and thrive — in the real world if you don’t have internships on your resume?
To that end, All Digitocracy has teamed up with the National Association of Black Journalists’ Digital Journalism Task Force for an hour-long Google Hangout on Air January 12 at 2:30 p.m. to discuss tips on getting an internship and making it work for you. Our guests are:
- Wendy L. Wilson, former managing editor at Ebony and Jet magazines and news editor at Essence. She has also worked at George, InStyle and Teen People. During her career, she has been responsible for recruiting, hiring and managing college students in company internship programs; and
- Malika Andrews, a junior organizational communication studies major at the University of Portland who is sports editor for the student run media outlet, The Beacon, a reporter with the Associated Press covering the Portland Trail Blazers and one of 12 students chosen to attend the Sports Journalism Institute this summer.
Our guests will offer their unique perspectives on the importance of internships. Then attendees will be allowed to ask questions of the panelists. The event will be live-tweeted and recorded for later viewing. I hope you’ll be able to join us!
Benét J. Wilson is the founder and owner of Aviation Queen LLC, a freelance writing, multimedia and consulting firm. She is a freelance aviation/travel journalist and blogger who has written for publications and blogs including USA Today, AirwaysNews.com, CrankyFlier.com, ACI-NA Centerlines magazine, Aviation International News, Airport World, the Airline Passenger Experience magazine and the Runway Girl Network. She currently serves on the board of the Online News Association, where she chairs the Diversity Committee. She is also vice president-digital of the National Association of Black Journalists and serves on the board of the Center for Collaborative Journalism.