Internships take McDaniel students to big cities where they reach for and meet the stars

By Rachel Hooper

Several McDaniel students had exciting internships this summer in cities from Philadelphia to Washington D.C. They shared with me the highlights of their experience, what they learned, and their advice for other prospective McDaniel student interns.

Julia Saunders, a junior communications major and journalism minor, spent her summer interning with Philadelphia’s radio station 102.1. Saunders worked in the promotions department of Q102 between 24 and 40 hours a week. Some of her responsibilities included less glamorous office work, but her other tasks included promoting the station at parties, clubs, and special events.

“I got to meet a lot of amazing people,” said Saunders, who was impressed with how much responsibility the company gave interns.

“It’s all about how well you get along with people and networking.”

Saunders felt that the timing of a junior year internship was right for her because it helped her confirm what she wants to do before she spends her senior year job hunting.

Senior Cal Cagni, communications major, spent his summer participating in The Washington Center’s Mass Communication program. He had a 30-36 hour per week internship at NBC4, working in the DC Scene department doing jobs such as filming, editing, and researching upcoming events in the D.C. area.

He especially enjoyed helping film interviews with comedians and musicians. Cagni learned a lot from his internship experience including “being able to prioritize and being able to juggle a lot of different responsblities and work and still have fun and a social life.”

He believes senior year was the right time to get an internship because he needed to have completed certain classes, without which, he believes he wouldn’t have done nearly as well. Cagni’s advice to McDaniel students is to get an internship during or after junior year.

Rachel Hooper and Mary Stokersmith

“If you do a good job, it may turn into a job,” Cagni said. Cagni aspires to return to NBC4 in an editing or production type job.

Senior Leslie Shirk, English major, film & video and writing minors, spent her summer as an intern at ABC News Washington D.C. bureau.

She worked 40 hours per week in ABC’s digital news media department reporting stories for ABC’s online news.

Shirk describes the best part of her internship, “I got to meet George Stephanopoulos…It was really interesting to get the opportunity to work with these people who have been in the industry so long and learn from watching them…there’s no experience that can really match that.”

Shirk stated that the internship really helped her “fine tune” her writing skills.

Regarding her ABC experience and the tight deadlines, “I’ve never been in such a rigorous working environment.”

When she graduates, Shirk hopes to go into the TV production or journalism field, perhaps at ABC in their production or digital news department.

Her advice to McDaniel students, “I’m one of the people that advocates internships anytime in college.”

She feels the advantage of an earlier internship experience is that you can make up your mind if that’s the field you want to go into; it’s a great chance for networking, and there are great contacts.

She feels she got to put into practice what she learned at McDaniel, “Professor Dalton always said…get all the facts but keep it concise,” and on the website you literally can’t write more than a certain amount.

In summary, Shirk feels that internships are real life experiences that help to solidify what you learn in class.

Unlike the McDaniel students above, my journalism internship was during the summer between my freshman and sophomore year. I spent my summer in the news department at KYW – CBS3 TV station in Philadelphia. My experience was at a news station that is ranked market 4 and the work environment was fast paced.

The biggest thing I learned was the importance of a mature attitude and sense of responsibility. You have to remain intact at all times. It can be hectic because you’re constantly on deadline – sometimes working three different deadlines for three different shows.

I was most surprised by how much they let me and my fellow interns do at such a large news market station. I began working 24 -36 hours a week in the News Department at the assignment desk. While I had to answer phones, listen to press conferences and police scanners, I also had the privilege of being assigned to the reporter/anchor Mary Stoker Smith as her intern. I would research stories for her, make phone calls to locate people to talk to, and help her out in the field.

The best part of my internship was the last few weeks when I put together my own story package, start-to-finish. I wrote my script, picked out video for the editor, and voice-tracked my piece at an editing session.

Regarding the timing of my internship, I feel that even though I had only one year of college, I was still sufficiently prepared to participate in the internship. Additional technical classes such as editing could have helped me, but the lack of such classes didn’t affect how well I did.

While we learn a great deal about journalism here at McDaniel I feel that I learned a number of skills out in the field with a reporter every day that I could never have learned in the classroom.

I strongly recommend starting internships early in your schooling so you can have more the one internship before graduation. I now have a better focus on what I still need to learn and my journalism courses will have more meaning. CBS3 really helped me set goals as well as prepared me for jobs later in life. Many broadcasting professionals I met recommended starting small and working your way up. Starting early and participating in more internships can help you do just that.