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:
Debra Koehler

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:
Debra Koehler

A young woman writing in a notebook next to an open laptop.

Journalism

Internships offer Communication, Journalism, and Public Relations students valuable skills and work experience, and often lead to full time jobs and even lifetime careers. Most students find that the internship experience gives them an edge that can make a difference in their job search.

Internship Course

JRN 4950 is a four-credit course, requiring at least 12 weeks and 150 hours of work during the course of the 14-week semester. Most organizations feel that students cannot gain enough useful experiences or complete their job responsibilities adequately without this minimum time frame; in fact, many organizations require a longer commitment (from six months to one year), especially if it is a paid situation. The value of the internship experiences increase 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.

Prerequisites
Journalism students must be juniors or seniors and have received credit for JRN 2000 and THREE other journalism courses before doing an internship. This internship requirement applies to journalism majors, journalism minors, PR minors and advertising minors. COM 491 does not satisfy JRN major or minor requirements. Students interested in doing an internship should contact Brian Hlavaty, internship director (hlavaty2@oakland.edu), at least a semester prior to when the student wants to do the internship.
Requirements

Log/Journal: Students shall keep a record of their time and work experiences throughout the internship; this will serve as verification that the required minimum time requirement has been fulfilled, and also be a good reference for students as they write their report.

Paper: Students shall write a paper (usually between four to six pages) covering the following criteria:

Job Description: Typical day or main responsibilities, significant incidents or special assignments, personal meaning of the experience, et al. This section should be written in such a manner that if your readers were thinking of applying for this internship, they would have a very good idea of what to expect from the experience.

Analysis:

  • Internal Communication Climate — How does communication work within the organization? Can you get the information you need? Is it clear what you're expected to do? Is there friendly social exchange? Are new ideas and self-starting encouraged or at least accepted?
  • External — Identify the audience(s) the organization targets and describe how the company seeks to reach its goals. How did your work help?

Clips and Portfolio: Students must keep a portfolio of all written work throughout the internship. These materials should be compiled in a notebook or folder and submitted with the report. The portfolio will count as one-third of the final grade.

Evaluation: An evaluation form is sent to supervisors near the end of the semester It asks for judgments on a student's abilities and aptitudes in a variety of areas. In addition, supervisors are encouraged to include written comments.

Grade: For JRN 4950, the final grade weights the report, clips or portfolio, and the supervisor's evaluation about equally.

All required material (portfolio, paper, log/journal and a survey that you will be given) will be due at a date the internship director will set. It's usually a few weeks before the semester ends. Some internships run longer, and that's OK. Later papers will be given a P (progress) grade IF YOU LET THE INTERNSHIP DIRECTOR KNOW IN ADVANCE. This P grade is changed when the required materials are turned in. If you plan to graduate then, be sure to let the internship director know.

IMPORTANT: It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that all affairs are in order to secure credit for the internship. All internships must be pre-approved by the internship director before the student starts the internship (no retro-active approvals) and the student may not gain credit for an internship that the student has already started or completed without approval and/or oversight. The internship experience must be an entirely new experience for the student in a new setting. The student may not repackage his/her current situation, job, or volunteer experience into an internship experience or do an internship for his/her current employer.

The internship director’s approval of an internship does not mean that the student will receive credit for the internship. Reasons why credit may not be granted include, but are not limited to: failure to comply with the employer’s policies or OU’s policies (it is entirely the student’s responsibility to seek out all relevant information as it relates to policies of both OU and the employer), inappropriate behavior at the workplace, being fired from the job, and/or any dishonesty or unethical behavior related to the internship. Because the on-site internship supervisor assists in determining the student’s grade, the internship supervisor may not be a family member, close friend, or a person with whom the student has had or currently has a romantic relationship. Romantic relationships with employees at the internship workplace during the internship are discouraged.

If a student is deemed to have engaged in academic misconduct, the incident will be reported to the Dean of Students, the student will fail the class, and/or the student will receive disciplinary reprimand, probation, suspension, or expulsion. See the syllabus for other important information. Cases of internship fraud or any instances of dishonesty related to the internship will be pursued to the fullest extent possible as allowed under the Academic Conduct Policy and any other relevant policies.

How to set up an internship

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. It is important for students to have an explicit understanding with their employer of the time commitment they will be expected to fulfill before they accept a position. Usually students start an internship at the beginning of a semester. However, they may start an internship at any time during the school year. If the work experience extends beyond the end of the term when they are registered for JRN 4950, a progress (P) grade will be assigned. This is a hold grade, which will be replaced with a number grade as soon as the student's final report/clips and evaluation are received.

  • Contact Brian Hlavaty, internship director, via email (hlavaty2@oakland.edu) that you are interested in starting an internship search. This is your first step. He will provide you with information on how to proceed and send you a copy of the Application Form. Let him know what your focus is and where you intend to look. Occasionally, students on their own secure what they think is an appropriate internship only to find it doesn't meet OU's standards and is denied. This is avoided by a simple email at the start of the process. All internships must be approved by Brian Hlavaty before a student can receive credit.
  • Check the Available Internships tab for organizations offering internships. This list is updated whenever we get a call from a business.
  • Plan ahead by making a list of organizations offering experiences that best meet your career preferences.
  • Aggressively go after internships. Your classmates are. So are students from other colleges and universities.
  • Talk to classmates about possible internships. Put the word out that you're interested. Get online and research businesses that appeal to you. Ask instructors if they know of any internships.
  • Realize that a business could decide in midsemester that it needs an intern. Or it could lose an intern who unexpectedly leaves. Those businesses call us for help and say we need one — right now. This is good news for flexible students. It could mean that a student looking for a winter internship, for example, could stumble on a just-posted offering in October and start the internship right then. When we get such a call, we immediately list that internship on this website. So check often.
  • Understand that many listed internships roll over from semester to semester. If they're on this list, it's likely the companies will need interns in the future.
  • Realize that you can contact organizations not listed here. (This list is of companies we've dealt with in the past who offer quality internships). There are many more out there — local and national — to go after. Should you set your sights on one such position, email the internship director immediately and tell him what you're up to. You'll need his approval to use such a position for credit. DO NOT interview with a company not on this list before contacting the internship director. No sense wasting your time.
  • Prepare (or update) a resume, along with a cover letter and writing samples, if applicable. Take these to Career Services for review.

Contact organizations to set up interviews using the method suggested by each organization and following the time frames suggested below (earlier is even better):

  • Fall Term: Early July
  • Winter Term: Late October or early November.
  • Spring and Summer Terms: Late fall term through early winter term

Students DO NOT register on their own for the JRN 4950 internship class. All registration is done through the internship director only after he has approved the internship and only after the student has filled out all paperwork supplied by the internship director.

Keep the internship director updated with occasional emails on how the search is progressing.

Available Internships

To all those looking for a JRN 4950 internship: Don’t forget to join the COM/JRN Facebook page. Members frequently post items of interest about jobs and internships.

Using Handshake to find an internship? Perhaps the best way to search is to type in either specific or generic job titles (social media, reporter, journalism, public relations, advertising, writing and whatever else sounds promising). If you find something that sounds interesting on Handshake, email me before you apply to make sure it is OK.

Pre-approved internship opportunities

Senior Portfolios

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.

Resources:

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.
Career Options

The journalism major builds on the liberal arts education by teaching students skills and theory necessary to produce meaningful content for news, public relations and advertising organizations. The curriculum is designed to endow students with a solid practical and technical knowledge base as well as an understanding of the legal, ethical and theoretical aspects of journalism and its critical role in a democracy. Students learn the dual concepts of press freedom and press responsibility. Due to the broad nature of the journalism curriculum, students can either generalize or develop a special emphasis within the major by taking a series of courses in print journalism (including media design), broadcast and online journalism, public relations or advertising. Students in the program are encouraged to develop expertise in different disciplines through minors or a double major. All journalism and public relations majors must complete an internship.

With a degree in journalism or public relations, you will be prepared to work in any field that emphasizes the value of the written and spoken word. Through optional minors in advertising or public relations, you can tailor your education to make yourself more marketable to these industries.

Some career options include:

  • Advertising copywriter
  • Broadcast journalist
  • Business professional
  • Communications coordinator
  • Educator
  • Editor
  • Feature writer
  • Government worker
  • Investigative reporter
  • Lawyer
  • Nonprofit specialist
  • Political specialist
  • Press secretary
  • Public relations consultant
  • Librarian
  • Technical writer

Job and career websites:

  • Journalism Jobs is the most poplar site for those seeking employment.
  • Poynter job listings.
  • The federal government posts jobs and internship opportunities.
  • The state of Michigan provides information about jobs and careers in Michigan.
  • The Public Relations Society of America specializes in careers in Public Relations.
  • Politico offers a range of opportunities for those involved in communication and politics. These jobs may require more experience than you possess today, but they demonstrate the amazing opportunities that exist for those with degrees in communication and journalism.