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Internships and Careers

The COM 4950 Internship currently fulfills the capstone course requirement for the B.A. in communication, journalism and media studies, and public relations and strategic communication.

Other reasons to complete an internship include:

  • Employers prefer students who have done at least one internship.
  • Interns fare better in a weak job market.
  • Interns get the opportunity to network with people in their desired profession.
  • Interns can take their career for a test drive before they graduate.

The Department of Communication, Journalism, and PR maintains a pre-approved Internship List to make your internship search easier. Additionally, you can use the links below to navigate to important information regarding how to set up an internship.

To successfully secure a place in the internship capstone course (COM 4950), students will complete the prerequisite courses listed in SAIL, attend one pre-capstone meeting to learn how to set up an internship, have their resume and cover letter reviewed by a Career Ambassador, and secure a pre-approved internship (see the pre-approved Internship List).

If you wish to learn more about this class, or the capstone offerings available to CJPR students, the next pre-capstone meeting dates are:

  • Wednesday, June 5, 12:00 PM
  • Monday, June 10, 6:00 PM

These meetings will be held online via Google Meet. Contact CJPR Internship Advisor, Valerie Palmer-Mehta at [email protected], to receive a link to attend the meetings. Please note these meetings are open to any Oakland University communication, public relations, or journalism and media studies major or minor. You need not be registered for the class to attend. If you have any questions or would like to talk with someone personally about the internship course, contact Valerie Palmer-Mehta.

COM 4950 is a four-credit course, requiring 12 full weeks and 150 hours of pre-approved internship work over the course of a 15-week semester. The value of the internship experience increases proportionately to the time students commit; however, only four credit hours may be earned for each internship experience, no matter how long the job lasts. While some employers may want students to work full time (40 hours/week), the department does not recommend this type of commitment unless it is a paid situation. Usually students start an internship at the beginning of a semester. However, they may start an internship at any time during the school year - pending approval from the Internship Advisor. Please reach out to the Internship Advisor regarding additional requirements and expectations.

The following steps are helpful for those who would like to enroll in COM 4950, the internship capstone:

  1. Attend a Pre-Capstone Meeting. At the meeting, you will learn about the course options that fulfill the capstone requirement and how to set up an approved internship.
  2. Register for COM 4950.
  3. Make an appointment with OU Career Services on Handshake to have a Career Ambassador review your resume and cover letter. Upload your revised documents to Handshake.
  4. Apply to internships on the pre-approved Internship List. If you would like to apply to an internship that is not on that list, reach out to the Internship Advisor so that she can review the internship to make sure it will qualify for credit prior to applying. It is recommended that you follow the time frames listed below, but you should check the specific date of each employer in case it is earlier:
    1. Fall Term: June 
    2. Winter Term: October
    3. Summer Term: February / Early March
  5. Prepare to be interviewed by employers by researching the company and practicing interview questions. Also consider doing a mock interview with Career and Life Design Center to give yourself a competitive advantage.
  6. Once you secure an approved internship, complete the experience form in Handshake no later than the first day of classes so that your Internship Site Supervisor (your employer) can formally approve the internship for credit. 

Please see our list of on-going internships on the pre-approved Internship List. These employers are seeking OU students and will be happy that you applied! If you would like to apply to an internship that is not on that list, please reach out to the Internship Advisor so that she can review the internship for you to ensure that it will qualify for credit. 

Students may apply to internships beyond those available on the pre-approved Internship List. Generally, in order to be approved, the internship must offer a meaningful opportunity for the intern to gain professional experience in a career area focused on communication, journalism and media studies, or public relations. Additionally, the employer should provide the intern with 150 hours of work and mentorship over a 12 week period, and complete a midterm and final evaluation form for the intern. Additional information and guidelines can be found on the Off-list Internship Application Form which you can receive from Dr. Palmer-Mehta. Please email Dr. Palmer-Mehta directly to discuss the internship and to receive an electronic copy of the form that you can fill out and submit via email.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tells us that "employment in media and communication occupations is projected to grow 6% from 2021 to 2031" and will "result in about 68,600 new jobs." This demand is propelled by "the need to create, edit, translate, and disseminate information through a variety of different platforms." Further, the BLS tells us, "The median annual wage for this group was $62,340 in May 2021, which was higher than the median annual wage for all occupations of $45,760."

All of the pathways normally pursued for obtaining a job should be explored when searching for a position in communication, journalism and media studies, or public relations. Job searches can include going to Career Services, being active on job search sites like LinkedIn, conducting informational interviews, doing internships, and networking with people who may be aware of job opportunities. Some career options across these areas include, but are not limited to: 

  • Advertising
  • Broadcast Journalism
  • Community Affairs
  • Content Creation
  • Corporate Communication
  • Copywriting
  • Creative Director
  • Customer Service
  • Digital Marketing
  • Editor / Editing
  • Event Planning
  • Feature Writing
  • Film & Video Editing
  • Freelance Writing
  • Fundraising & Development
  • Government Relations
  • Grant Writing
  • Human Resources / Employment Services
  • Investigative Writer
  • News Assistant
  • News Producer
  • Non-Profit or Project Management
  • Press Secretary
  • Public Relations
  • Publishing
  • Radio Broadcasting
  • Radio Production
  • Reporter
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Sports Writing & Reporting
  • Technical Writing
  • Television Broadcasting
  • Television Production

The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides additional relevant information on occupations in media and communication.

Prepare for a career in communication, journalism and media studies, or public relations:

  • Consider doing an internship or taking on a volunteer position to build networks and gain relevant experience.
  • Do informational interviews with people in your field who hold positions similar to your aspirations.
  • Assemble documentation that demonstrates your talents, such as a portfolio of writing samples.
  • When asking anyone to write letters of recommendation, provide them with all the documentation they need.
  • Visit the Career and Life Design Center for career assistance. This office provides resume and cover letter advice, mock interviews, internship and job fair opportunities, access to jobs and internships via Handshake, and more!

The senior portfolio is an exhibit of your experience, your skills and your talent. For many grads, it's this piece that wins or loses the job. The portfolio should provide potential employers with a clear idea of what you can bring to their organization and, for this reason, creating it will involve some of the most important editorial decisions you'll ever make.

The portfolio is NOT a requirement for journalism or PR students, merely a suggestion. If you’re searching for a job in those fields, might be in competition against grads who have them.

You can prepare a digital version of your portfolio (see recommendations below). As for print, that's up to you.

The look of your physical and online portfolios is up to you. There are plenty of online resources that can provide help.

Portfolio Elements

Obviously you want to include your resume and samples of your work. But there are other options including:

Statement of Confidentiality — The following is the exclusive work of XXX XXX and may not be reprinted, duplicated or copied without written permission.

Why do this? It sends a signal that this is serious work. Also, it might contain proprietary work samples from your internship.

Resume — Your resume is the summary of your college education, most recent employment experience and notable skill sets.

Why do you need this? It’s the bedrock of this portfolio. You’ll need an updated resume throughout your life. You completed a resume to get your journalism internship sometime during the past two years. Do you need to tweak it? We suggest you take it back to Career Services for another review. Have others look at it, too. Is every word spelled correctly? Did you wander from full sentences to partial sentences? Is the style uniform? One tiny miscue is all it takes to eliminate you from consideration.

References — Use name, title, complete address (with zip code), email, work phone, cell phone (if you know it). Make it simple for your interviewer to contact your references.

Why do you need this? People in the industry know each other. The interviewer might recognize a name and call right then and there. It could land you on the stack for a second interview. You need every edge you can get.

Work Philosophy and Professional Goals — Go for two or three bullet points on each.

Why do you need this? Do you have a work philosophy? You should. The interviewer will want to know how you view work and where you’re headed in life. Don’t get too specific. You can say, for example, that someday you intend to get a master’s degree. But to say you’re headed back to school for it in a year could cost you a job.

Work Sample — Depending on your emphasis or area of interest, work samples will vary. Students use published print stories and photography; audio files from radio broadcasts and podcasts; video productions; multimedia packages; web productions; print and web design pieces; and advertising and public relations projects. You should plan to demonstrate versatility or a very focused specialty.

Why do you need this? This is the meat of your portfolio. It shows a business what you can do. Not all students will have all sections. Separate your sections with plastic dividers. You can change the order depending on the job you’re seeking.

Tip — Put a small card in the lower right corner of each new section explaining that particular skill, such as: PR releases written for internship or stories published for The Oakland Post.

Certifications — Anything you are certified in, no matter what: CPR, lifeguarding, heavy equipment operation, pilot, volunteer firefighter, etc.

Why do you need this? It shows the breadth of your knowledge and skills even if it isn’t in journalism. But you must have documents to back it up.

Letters of Recommendation  — Two or three. Perhaps one or two to talk about your skills and one to talk about your character (is honest, can handle responsibility, etc). These are best from former bosses or supervisors at your internships. Please note that as a general rule, journalism faculty don't write general letters of recommendation for the portfolio.

Why do you need this? It provides validation for everything in this portfolio.

Evidence of Community Service — Anything that shows you get involved in the community, such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Habitat, nursing home volunteer, campus organizations. Anything. These could be on or off campus. It’s OK if some are repeated on your resume.

Why do you need this? Many businesses are heavily involved in their communities. These companies want to hire people who feel likewise. If, for example, you sing in a choir or play in a community band and your interviewer does, too, …

Acknowledgement Letters/Thank You Letters — Anything from a company, agency or organization that singles you out and thanks you for doing something positive.

Why do you need this? It is more validation that you are someone worth hiring.

Awards — This could be the dean’s list, outstanding person of the month, student senator of the year — any award that recognizes you for something.

Why do you need this? It provides evidence that you are a success. Put in the actual certificate or letter.

Professional Organizations — Are you a member of the Society for Professional Journalists? Other professional groups?

Why do you need this? It shows you’re involved in your profession. Include the letter or certificate.

Tip #1 — Never include any achievements from high school, no matter how stellar. This is a red flag to potential employers and suggests that you might not have accomplished much in college.

Journalism graduates must demonstrate technological savvy, that's why digital portfolios are a good idea. If you don’t have a preferred platform, we recommend Wordpress. The free version is extremely customizable and the self-hosted version even more so. Both versions have the benefit of built-in SEO.

If you don't like Wordpress, consider Wix, Weebly or Squarespace. Or browse the web for more ideas, as new platforms are developed regularly.

Make sure to investigate the cost of your preferred platform before you spend a lot of time on the design. Most premium versions will run anywhere from $10-$50 a month.


Site set-up

  • Setting up a self-hosted WordPress site, explained by Christopher Heng of thesitewizard
  • Why you need a portfolio site on wp journo, a blog about journalism and WordPress.

Department of Communication, Journalism, and Public Relations

Wilson Hall, Room 316
371 Wilson Boulevard
Rochester, MI 48309-4486
(location map)
(248) 370-4120

General Department Questions: