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Nov. 26, 2012

Journalism students gain real-world experience through interning

By Brandon Blackwell

The internship has become an invaluable, and sometimes necessary, part of higher education.

The real-world experience gives students a way to test the waters of their chosen career, while being tested by seasoned professionals.

Journalism students Eric Bonzar and Sarah Shannon, who both work for The Cleveland Stater, know from experience.

Bonzar interned locally for BBC News U.S. & Canada during their election night coverage, taking on newsgathering duties.

Shannon has been interning with WEWS News Channel 5 since September, where she is paid to assist in following leads and producing stories.

Both agreed to share their experiences.

The Cleveland Stater: What is the most insightful thing you learned during your internship?

Sarah Shannon: I learned a lot about the real world of multimedia journalism. It's a whole different world now. You have to do everything yourself. All the writing skills I've learned in college have given me an advantage because I know more than just the broadcasting side of things.

What have you learned about the transforming journalism marketplace?

Eric Bonzar: I learned that national news media outlets still have a vested interest in American news and politics, and there may be a market for American journalists in other countries still.

How has the internship helped you prepare for a career in journalism?

SS: Going out on shoots with reporters, creating my own newsreel and being able to sit in a newsroom and see how everything gets put together for a broadcast has really helped.

What was most challenging?

EB: The most challenging thing was adapting to digital media news methods. In print, you can always mold your source’s quotes into something that is legible and comprehensible to your readers. In broadcast, you cannot. You have to canvas numerous sources to find that perfect one to put on television.

What would you change about your experience?

SS: I wish I could go out on more shoots. I'm an intern, so they give me some busy work to do that they really don't have time for, but it's not bad.

Has your internship bolstered or diminished your excitement about journalism?

EB: I’m still thoroughly excited about journalism, of course. I think that this experience has rejuvenated my enthusiasm about journalism as a whole, and has motivated me to study its different media.

Has the experienced transformed your methods as a journalism student?

SS: I would say so. I really am learning something different every day and have seen an improvement in my writing over the last three years. Of course, I learned a thing or two at CSU but also how to differentiate between broadcast writing, newsprint writing, online writing, and all of that has really made me the journalism student I am now.

What is your advice to students who are considering an internship?

EB: Make sure you apply somewhere where you’ll not only be fully engaged, but where you will learn the most. Try to absorb as much knowledge outside of your comfort zone to help make you well-rounded as a journalist. Apply for an internship, and work as if it could potentially turn into a full-time employment opportunity.