Internship FAQs

  • What is the purpose of an internship?
    An internship allows you to apply what you've been learning in classes to a professional setting. The experience will help you test your interest in the field and assess your preparation for the workplace. It can also introduce you to people who can be helpful resources when you are looking for a job after graduation.

  • Who is required to get an internship?
    Two internship credits are required for Journalism, Business Journalism and Strategic Communication majors. You must work 100 hours to receive one credit, so you can easily complete this requirement in one summer. You may hold two internships during your W&L career, but you are not required to do so.  Only declared Journalism and Strategic Communication majors are eligible to receive credit for internships.

  • How do I go about finding an internship?
    You must find your own internship. The department will not grant credit for an internship that you obtain through a paid finder service. Department faculty and staff will be happy to provide you with tips and leads for finding an internship. The best way to find an internship is to apply for many. Develop a strategy in the fall, research the application process and deadlines for the companies where you would like to work that summer. Attend a departmental information session, examine the department's web site, talk to your professors about good places to work, watch this site for more information and internship opportunities. If you wish to receive credit for an internship, you must meet with the department's internship coordinator by the end of November before the spring or summer in which you intend to serve your internship.

  • Do I need a resume?
    Yes. If you haven't already, start assembling a resume now. The Career Services Website is a good starting place. However, Journalism and Mass Communications resumes are a little different from those in many other fields. Check the resume page on this website for special tips and be sure to have the intern coordinator or a department faculty member review your resume before you send it out. Emphasize any writing or communication experience. Make sure your resume adheres to Associated Press style, is absolutely accurate and contains no typos, misspellings or grammatical errors. Keep it to one page.

  • What are cover letters and clips?
    News organizations and communications companies want to know if you can write, so a cover letter is your most important writing sample. Its purpose is to introduce yourself to a potential employer and distinguish you from other applicants. The letter should be direct, well-written and no more than one page. It should reflect something about you that is not apparent from your resume. Again, check the resume page on this website for tips and show your cover letter draft to the intern coordinator or any of the journalism professors for review before you send it out.

    Clips are published examples of your work. Class assignments are not acceptable, but published stories are, including, usually, work you did for The Rockbridge Report. Work from a campus newspaper may be acceptable; sometimes work from a high school newspaper is acceptable, provided you have a department faculty member review and help you select your clips first. Typically, people make copies of the articles on 81/2 x 11-inch paper; be sure to include the publication's name and date. Increasingly, employers will accept links to published articles or clips you display on LinkedIn or a personal website. Four to six clips are usually fine, unless the application asks for more. Select clips that show strong reporting and writing and, if possible, your range. An employer will assume that you consider this your best work, so don't include articles with typos or inside campus humor that will not translate well to an outside audience.

  • Where can my internship be?
    Your internship may be anywhere in the world. For Journalism and Business Journalism majors, it must be with a news organization. These include newspapers, magazines, broadcasting stations, or internet news organizations. Students in the Strategic Communication sequence may intern with news organizations; public relations, marketing or advertising firms; or a communications department within a company or nonprofit organization.

  • How do I get class credit?
    Once your internship is approved by the intern coordinator, you will register for a course. The course number depends on how many hours you plan to work and it will be transcripted as a summer course.  After your internship is over, you must submit a daily journal and a portfolio of your work to the department. Then, you will write a  paper explaining what you learned from your experience and make an oral presentation to other students and faculty. The length of the paper varies depending on the number of credits you seek.

  • May I take the class pass-fail?
    No. You will receive a letter grade for the course based on your journal, paper, presentation and intern supervisor's evaluation of your work. You will receive a "work in progress" grade until all elements are completed.

  • Do I have to do my internship in the summer?
    No. You may have an internship any term, with the internship coordinator's permission. You can also split your internship credits between terms. For example, you can earn two credits with a summer internship of at least 200 hours and earn one credit of internship in the fall, by working 100 hours during the term.

  • Can I do two summer internships?
    Yes. You may receive up to six internship credits toward your Journalism or Strategic Communication major. But you are required to have just two credits.

  • Do I need anyone's permission before taking an internship?
    Yes. Anyone seeking credit for an internship must meet and discuss her or his plans with the intern coordinator. That meeting must take place by the the end of November before the spring or summer in which you intend to serve your internship. However, do not hesitate to seek advice from the department's other faculty members. Every professor is happy to offer guidance about the profession and potential internship hosts.

  • When should I intern?
    Many students intern for credit the summer between their junior and senior years. You must be a declared Journalism or Strategic Communication major for your internship to count for credits.

  • Can I do my internship earlier than that?
    If you are a Journalism or Business Journalism major, the department requires that you take Jour 258 before you intern for J451, J452 or J453 credit. That prerequisite may be waived with permission of the internship coordinator and the department head. If you are a Strategic Communication major, you should not take an internship before having J201; ideally, you will already have completed J227 as well. The idea of an internship is to apply what you learn in class to the real world. If you have little class experience, you have less value to an employer.

  • How far in advance should I start looking for an internship?
    Begin looking for an internship during the fall before the summer you want to intern. The process may be long and challenging, so you want to allow yourself enough time to look, schedule interviews, and secure the job before the end of Spring Term.

  • Are all internships paid?
    No. You can receive credit for a paid or unpaid internship. The ideal internship is one in which you receive a paycheck and credit. But many internships don't pay. The department has some money available to help students who secure unpaid internships. Students seeking department assistance should respond to email notices about the scholarships and grants, which are circulated during Winter and Spring Terms.

  • What should I be looking for in a good internship?
    Look for an opportunity to gain real experience in a field in which you think you want to work. Avoid positions in which you will be doing only clerical work or merely shadowing professionals.  The department does not grant credit for internships in which you would be working for a one-person shop, working remotely, or working for a family member. 

  • Where else can I go for information?
    In addition to this website, bulletin boards located on the first floor of Reid Hall and in the third floor Green Room and lab are used to post any internship positions that the department receives. The internship coordinator also gives information sessions throughout the year that you should attend.  The department also encourages students to visit the Career Development Office on the third floor of Elrod Commons and take advantage of its resources.