Find an Internship–12 Resources to Explore (updated)

IMG_2559If you’re ready to get some hands-on, professional media experience, now’s the time to look for an internship. A paid, summer internship OF COURSE is ideal. You should pursue those opportunities, but also keep in mind that at the best media companies, those spots can be highly competitive. And small companies generally don’t have money to offer their interns.

So it may be easier to look for a spring or fall internship instead. At CCNY, interns generally receive academic credit. (For more information, reach out to Professor Lynne Scott Jackson, lscottjackson@ccny.cuny.edu.)

How do you find an internship? You look–hard! CCNY students have interned at large media companies like NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, PBS, NY1, Univision, Hearst, Time Inc., Conde Nast, The New York Observer, the Daily News, WNYC and many more. Most students did the work to find positions and apply for them. You need to be relentless. Follow the program Facebook page, here. I’m posting as fast as I can. 

There are plenty of resources and opportunities out there. To get started, follow these tips:

1. Go directly to the website of the media outlet you’d like to work for and see what’s offered. For instance, click here for information about internships offered by NBC Universal. Or here for NY1. Or here for Time Inc. Or here for Buzzfeed. Cast a wide net.

2. MEOjobs is an AMAZING aggregation of media internships. It’s pretty much one stop shop!

3. Try Ed2010, a site organized by students interested in publishing. Companies post openings, mainly at magazines–print and digital. When I looked over the opportunities 5 minutes before writing this,  I noticed openings at The Food Network, Latina.com, Oprah and Time Out for budding writers, photographers, designers and editors.

4. Join linked in, the free social media network for careers.  Create a profile and sign up for the jobs email alert. Most posts are for job-jobs, but you can also receive internship alerts. Make sure you have a linked in page that includes a professional photo that’s friendly and approachable. Your resume should be clean, up to date, and slanted toward your media experience/studies. For info, read this article.

5. Check in on Mediabistro for listings.

6. Recruiters like Indeed, a no-fuss search engine for jobs that has become increasingly popular with employers. When I searched media internships, I saw several in fashion.

7. Try Findspark, a membership organization that offers support, information, meet-ups and listings to college students and recent grads interested in creative industries. Read this Find Spark story: 20 + Career Tips From Creatives Who Were in Your Shoes.

8. Sign up for Johnson Jobs; you’ll receive a daily email with job/intern postings based on your skills and employment level.

9. Looking for sports internships specifically? Click here for guidance.

10. Quieres Spanish speaking media? Try these opportunities.

11. Brush up on professional social media skills. Take a class or volunteer to be the social media manager for a nonprofit, church or campus organization. This is the hot media job — social media = most intern and entry level position entry — so make sure you’ve got the skills.

12. New resources! The career center on campus recommends: journalism jobs, media industry newsletter (sign up for job alerts) and journalism next.

FINAL THOUGHT: Don’t just apply to one or two internships. Instead, go for broke. Isn’t it better if you have lots of offers to choose from? Good luck!

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The Internship Argument

In a recent New York Times op-ed article, Ross Perlin argued that colleges are uncritical and complicit in exploitation as they steer students toward unpaid internships. The author of the book “Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy,” Perlin believes that interns are part of “a phenomenon that includes the growing numbers of temps, freelancers, adjuncts, self-employed entrepreneurs and other low-wage or precariously employed workers who live gig by gig. The academy should critique, not amplify, those trends.”

His sparked wide debate, including here at CCNY. My colleague Lynn Appelbaum, who helps place students at paid and unpaid internships, responded, noting that, “if all internships had to be paid, opportunities would decline, hurting the professional path for many, especially minorities.”

I agree with Professor Appelbaum. Though I wish every student received a paycheck, internships are still a valuable experience. Many years ago, my college internship at a large magazine publishing company, paved the way for own career in print and digital journalism.

CCNY journalism minors have interned at a number of large media outlets, including Good Morning America, ABC news.com, CNN, NY1, The NY Daily News, Fox News, BET, Transit News and Glamour Magazine. This summer, PBS, ABC News, CBS Sports, People Stylewatch, Latino USA-NPR, TV One, United Nations TV, In the Life (LGBT-TV) have all offered CCNY students internship positions. I know these experiences will change my students’ lives.

Below, my Reporting and Writing student, Patricia McGuire, joins this timely discussion:

Internships: Slave Labor or a Great Opportunity? by Patricia McGuire

“This job is absolutely a result of my internship,” says Bennecia Benjamin, a 2010 CCNY MCA graduate. After graduation, she interned at Group M, a New York-based marketing company; she’s recently been hired as an assistant print analyst.

“My internship helped me to gain focus and filled the gap from class to work environment,” Benjamin continues. “My good reviews during my internship, led to my recommendations and interviews for my current position.”

Many students many not experience Benjamin’s fairy tale ending by getting a job out of an internship. Professor Lynn Appelbaum, director of CCNY’s ad/PR program, estimates that about 10 percent of the internships in her department lead to jobs.

But even those students who don’t get hired, leave their internships with hands on-experience, potential networking and job opportunities. In today’s competitive market, employers consider internship experience a prerequisite for entry-level positions. They also serve as a vetting process and given the tough economic times, an endless supply of unpaid workers. For employers it’s a win/win situation.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers 2008 survey, 50 percent of graduating students have participated in internships, up from 17 percent in 1992. This growing popularity has made the line between a learning opportunity and free labor murky and students might not get what they are hoping for.

Unpaid internships, particularly in the summer, can be discriminatory, some experts believe. According to the study, “Not So Equal Protection” published by The Economic Policy Institute, “Low-income students are either denied the opportunity to participate in these valuable experiences, or must take on significant debt in order to receive the same advantages as their higher income peers.”

The study also discussed the lack of legal protection for interns. The set of laws that protect employees’ rights, the Fair Labor and Standards Act, don’t apply to them. For example, interns aren’t protected against discrimination and sexual harassment; an employer’s responsibility in cases of workers’ compensation is ambiguous. The study suggests that The Labor Board‘s Training and Employment Guidelines are difficult to enforce and outdated in the present economic environment.

To protect CCNY undergrads, department heads vet most of the internships before allowing students to participate. According to Appelbaum, “Well-established intern programs must have an on-site coordinator and basic criteria for intern’s involvement.” Appelbaum explains that internships during the year tend to be “less formal” than those during the summer and rarely include a stipend. Professors do their best to match students to appropriate internship but still disappointments occur.

This happened to Joselina Salazar, a CCNY senior. Her internship “wasn’t in an area I was interested in,” explains the MCA major. “What I learned was that I don’t want to do sales.” She will intern this summer at ABC news.

So, before committing to an internship this summer or next fall do your best to vet them even as they vet you.