304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
MNSPJ Intern Night 2023 brought dozens of students and journalism professionals together in downtown St. Paul at the UBS Forum at Minnesota Public Radio (MPR). The event was moderated by MNSPJ Board President Catharine Richert of MPR and featured a panel that included: MPR News Deputy Managing Editor Nancy Lebens, Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal Managing Editor Mark Reilly, KSTP-TVAssistant News Director Daren Sukhram, Star Tribune Business Team Leader Meg Ryan, Mpls. St. Paul Magazine Associate Editor Madison Bloomquist, Minnesota Reformer Deputy Editor Max Nesterak, Sahan Journal Managing Editor Chao Xiong, and Marianne Combs from the Center for Broadcast Journalism.
Addressing the importance of internships, Aliyah Demry, a senior at St. Cloud State University, talked about her internship with MPR. She said she has learned more about reporting and about behind the scenes production, including the booking of guests and how to put together show rundowns. She also said her internship presented a personal challenge for her to make sure she was doing things right and that she was doing enough. But she brought to the job an enthusiasm for writing and for knowing what news she wanted to cover. This energy and focus, she said, has been important to the success of her internship.
“Learn all you can about the publications you want to work for,” added Mark Reilly.
Panelists discussed internship opportunities at their respective media outlets, including 21 upcoming positions at MPR (15-20 of which are 6-month paid summer internships), up to 12 paid positions at the Star Tribune up to 10 positions at KSTP (in both broadcast television and radio), two 6-month opportunities at Mpls. St. Paul Magazine, and an intern position in partnership with Dow Jones News at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Marianne Combs discussed the non-profit Center for Broadcast Journalism and its goal of placing interns with professional newsrooms, radio stations and educational opportunities. And Star Tribune Business Editor and internship committee member Megan Ryan advised those interested to watch for annual internship ‘career fairs’ that the Star Tribune began holding in October two years ago. Each represented media outlet had at least one internship opportunity.
So what makes for a quality intern? An overriding assessment by panelists was that it took an organized and driven individual willing to take initiative and, at the same time, learn.
“Show up on time,” advised Daren Sukhram, “and be a ‘sponge’.”
Meg Ryan talked about the qualifications and qualities a media organization like the Star Tribune looks for in an intern applicant. “Have the confidence to know that we hired you for those reasons,” she said, “and don’t be afraid to show (your qualities).”
And a good cover letter, it was pointed out, is just as important as the qualifications listed on a resume – maybe more so, as it can give context to those qualifications. Not only does a cover letter need to display good grammar and writing ability, but it should illustrate how what you’ve already accomplished elsewhere can contribute to what you will be able to do for the next employer, according to Madison Bloomquist.
“We had an intern applicant actually pitch a story idea in her cover letter,” said Bloomquist.
The panel discussed workloads for interns and the appeal of a versatile worker, especially given the changing nature of the field. As Sahan Journal’s Chao Xiong pointed out, journalists are needing to be more skilled in the use of multimedia platforms – not only writing, but taking video and editing. Data analysis is also becoming increasingly important in telling a story, added Mark Reilly. And the final product can be anything from a printed article to a podcast.
After the panel discussion, students attending the event broke out into small groups and met with panel members for round-robin Q & A sessions. There were questions about how to put together a resume, job duties and experiences, and how to find out what’s going on – what’s news. Some of the replies were universal, like asking questions and making connections. Gearing a resume to the job and highlighting experience over education were some suggestions for job applications. Asking questions about how people feel and connecting with people who don’t agree with or have the same likes as you were suggestions for getting more perspective on an issue in the news.
“Sometimes you’ll discover hidden elements – stories within a story,” said KSTP-TVs Daren Sukhram. “Understanding the ‘why’ is important!”
Those in attendance left with resources and a better understanding of internship opportunities.
Be sure to watch this space at MNSPJ.org and our Facebook page at facebook.com/mnspj/ for future student opportunities, including our annual scholarship competition, which will go live by early February, and the return of Intern Night in October or November 2024!