How Long-Distance Internships Can Still Give Students an Irreplaceable Experience

  • By: Kassidy Weemhoff
  • Published: Oct 7, 2020 2:45PM
Sam Jones worked remotely for a newspaper during his internship.

The majority of students at Taylor are required to have an internship or practicum experience during their time here. However, internships looked quite different this summer as many students tackled gaining real world experience from their homes. 

Although some internships were cancelled or postponed this year, many students were still able to engage in summer programs. These taught students about their field of study and what it looks like to work amidst a pandemic. 

Sam Jones, a senior Multimedia Journalism major, was one of these students. He landed a coveted summer internship at the Dow Jones News Fund (DJNF) internship program, which trains and places students in major news outlets around the country to work as paid interns. He was excited to travel to Manhattan, New York for training and flying to Detroit, Michigan, to work for The Detroit News

Unfortunately, as the pandemic continued to spread, Jones’s internship and the training program moved to fully remote. But instead of getting discouraged, he pressed on and came out with an understanding of the journalism industry and many portfolio pieces.

Basement Journalism Builds Endurance

“Our curriculum focused on the nuts and bolts of business reporting and how to cover and understand the major 2020 stories – the COVID-19 pandemic story and the social justice and unrest stories – as business journalists,” said Paul Glader, who directs the business reporting program for DJNF. “Sam participated from his basement very well and seemed to rise to the occasion during training week and in covering news and features for The Detroit News.”

There are plenty of communication difficulties of working for people who are located hundreds of miles away, but Jones continued to write impressive stories published on a regular basis. Jones says he was constantly reminded it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and relied on his education at Taylor and his faith for courage to keep reporting and writing stories in a major metropolitan city 281 miles from his own hometown.  

“Working remotely was more difficult for me,” Jones said. “Instead of going into my newsroom on a daily basis, calling sources and conducting in-person interviews, I made calls, sent emails, and wrote copy from my basement. My love for writing and publishing is really what got me through this time.”  

Equipped to Intern Through a Pandemic

Taylor seeks to equip and teach students about entering the workforce. Jones said that Taylor classes have taught him the “ins-and-outs” of effective journalism. Extracurriculars are also extremely helpful, like writing for on-campus publications such as The Echo student newspaper or the Illium, Taylor’s yearbook. In working multiple years for The Echo, Jones learned to navigate the organization (and sometimes frustration) of a campus newspaper.

However, Jones attested there is nothing like working for a major newspaper.  

“I learned so much about journalism in even my first week of work,” Jones said. “Journalism is about experience and ambition. There’s no formula you can learn to understand it fully. My mentor, Graham Starr, is a prominent editor at Business Insider. Something he told me is that “journalists love reporting because the field is always changing.” And I’ve found that to be very true when talking to other experienced journalists/editors.”

Hands-on Experience Offers a Look Into the Future 

In his first week at The Detroit News, Jones already had two stories published. His work for the Business, Metro and Breaking News desks gave him an opportunity for irreplaceable hands on experience. Jone's mentors at DJNF connected him and other students with many respected journalists and reporters. 

Wall Street Journal reporters, MarketWatch columnists and CNBC writers are just a few of the contacts Jones made during his time in the DNFJ internship. Being able to connect with these industry experts and learn more about their journey in the industry was eye-opening for Jones and gave him an excitement for what his future could hold. 

Kevin Hardy, The Detroit News managing editor, said, “Sam was professional, accountable and completed the work asked of him by the time it was expected. I wish he would have had an opportunity to experience news coverage in person, but the pandemic limited his experience. He was still able to write several 1A [first page] stories during the summer while working remotely.” 

At Taylor, journalism students are encouraged to remain impartial and to pursue fact-based objective reporting that is accurate and truthful. Jones said he learned more about how that works in practice during his internship at a major metropolitan newspaper. That experience built upon his training in journalism classrooms and student media outlets at Taylor. 

“Each of our students selects one of three multimedia concentrations – Business Media, News Media or Sports Media – which makes them more employable in traditional media or non-media jobs requiring excellent writers and communicators,” said Alan Blanchard, associate professor of journalism. “Our students are very successful in landing multiple internships before graduation, and effective in landing jobs after graduation in broadcast, print and online media, as well as for ministry, nonprofit and business sector employment.”

If you are interested in joining the Multimedia Journalism major, read about our program here. Additionally, if you want guidance finding an impactful internship experience, read about the Calling and Career Office here