The Internship Thing

The information in Mindy McAdams’ post about how would-be journos can still get jobs in journalism is written for, obviously, journalists, but it applies to nearly anyone working in any field of media these days.

She says that three things remain true:

  • Many successful journalists do not have a university degree in journalism.
  • Many graduates with a university degree in journalism will never have a journalism job.
  • Some people who study journalism at university are not well rounded in their knowledge.

There are still journalists out there in younger demographics that didn’t study it. So while the philosophy major who bumbled into a newsroom might sound like a fictitious trope, it’s still possible. ((Mac McClelland, MoJo’s human rights reporter, for one, though we wouldn’t call her bumbling, and we don’t think she studied philosophy.)

More importantly is McAdams’ second and third points: a lot of j-school grads will never work in journalism.
It’s because they studied nothing but journalism (or journalism and English, which according to journo Matt Waite is like “majoring in journalism and minoring in journalism…”) or because they spent so much time studying they didn’t get any work experience.

McAdams writes:

Most journalism jobs are off-limits to all applicants who have not completed at least one internship. No internships = no job. It really is that simple. Many students, it seems, refuse to believe this applies to them. These are usually the students who are obsessed with getting high grades — as if anyone in a newsroom would ever care what grade you got in any class!

We think it’s kinda funny how McAdams, who teaches journalism at the University of Florida, really tries to get students to take internships. Yet “we see a lot of students who: (a) take no internships at all before they graduate; (b) take only one internship; (c) take one or more “low value” internships….all we can do is counsel,” she says. What on earth are you spending $20k a year on if you’re not valuing your professor’s advice?