5 Reasons Why Every Journalism Major Needs Digital Experience

By Sonia Su

Read the original story on Patch.com.

SCREENSHOT: My team and I built and worked on a multimedia news site for the Patch/DJNF training in June.

SCREENSHOT: My team and I built and worked on a multimedia news site for the Patch/DJNF training in June.

When I decided to be a journalism major with a concentration in magazines, I had no idea that I would gain so much online and digital experience. I’ve actually had more experience online than with magazines. And with my Patch internship coming to a close, I’ve realized that every aspiring journalist—whether in broadcast or print—needs to gain digital experience. Digital experience may not have as powerful an impact for you as it has for me, but I’ve learned that it can be incredibly valuable.

I have had amazing online journalism opportunities, writing for various publications from the local news startup BostInno to USA TODAY CollegeHer Campus to Patch—so I like to think that I’m somewhat familiar with digital journalism. (Don’t get me wrong—I will always have so much more to learn.)

Here are five reasons why you should try writing for the web, if you haven’t already:

  1. You learn to write for the reader. You can write as many stories as you’d like, but unless you’re doing it online, you can’t really tell if people are bored with your coverage. Immediate reader feedback is one of the reasons why having a website works so well—readers can easily comment on stories, share ones they like on social media (this post on youth mobbing was shared more than 4,100 times on Facebook), etc. But when writing for the web, you quickly realize it’s also important to learn and use search engine optimization or SEO. Whether you consider it a good or bad thing, you end up adjusting your writing to fit what people would search for to gain more views, and more views means more money advertisers will be willing to pay. While it may be a pain to write the occasional SEO-optimized story on when Baltimore County Public Schools start—and you may not even consider it journalism—I feel that your “real” writing becomes more interesting, readable and relevant. And it’s no question that getting eyes on our stories is a constant struggle for writers.
  2. You get to tell a fuller story with photos, video, hyperlinks, etc. I’m always confused when Continue reading

AOL Marketing Intern Proves Experience Reigns Over Major

By Sonia Su

Read the original story on Patch.com.

Intern Profile

Name: Kelly Wright
Title: Media Marketing Intern at AOL
School: Towson University
Majors: Graphic Design and Computer Information Systems

Watch the video on Patch.com to get an inside look into a media marketing internship.

After her interview with AOL, Towson University student Kelly Wright didn’t think she would be offered a position this summer. Responsibilities of a media marketing intern involve working with programs and tools such as Google AdWords, and Wright said she didn’t even know what some of them were when asked during her interview.

So when Wright got the offer, she said she was ecstatic. For the past few months, Wright has been working with more than 200 other AOL employees in the Baltimore office, using Google AdWords, Excel and more. Despite not majoring in marketing, Wright said her majors in graphic design and computer information systems mix well—and her extensive experience probably helped.

In addition to attending technology academies before college, Wright has had four previous internships—including one with aerospace and defense company Lockheed Martin—all of which were paid.

“We’re college kids, and we have books, rent, groceries, gas—there’s a lot of things we need to pay for,” Wright said. “It’s still a regular job. Yes, you can get credit for it most of the time, but credit’s not going to buy you books. If you’re working hard, you definitely deserve to get something.”

At AOL, Wright assists marketing managers with various campaigns and builds Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization—or SEM and SEO—campaigns for AOL’s many accounts, including Bing, Moviefone and Patch. She found the opportunity through Towson’s Career Center.

“Everyone is just so friendly,” Wright said. “It’s really nice—the company definitely rewards their employees.”

And reward, it does. The company has a nap room, offers lunch for employees on Wednesdays and on Wright’s first day of her internship, held a cookout.

Continue reading

Maryland Summer Intern Rescues Refugees

By Sonia Su

Read the original story on Patch.com.

Intern Profile

Name: Christie Smith
Title: Case Management Intern at International Rescue Committee
School: University of Maryland Baltimore County
Major: International Studies and Spanish

Watch the video on Patch.com to get an inside look into a case management internship.

When a child asked her for help on algebra homework, Christie Smith was stuck.

“How do you explain algebra to someone who doesn’t speak as much English?” Smith said.

When working at the Baltimore-based Refugee Youth Project, Smith said many students talked to her about how much trouble they were having in school. These students who came from refugee families or are refugees themselves still had to take the Standardized Aptitude Test or SAT.

“But this was what was expected of them. You know how hard the SAT reading section is—imagine if English is not a language you’re particularly good at speaking or reading and you’re expected to take this test in order to get to college, in order to have this future everyone keeps telling you you need to have,” Smith said.

Continuing her passion for working with the international population, Smith has been interning this summer at the International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian aid organization, in the Baltimore office. Unlike the other nearly 40 interns, she is among the 20 students who attend school in Maryland being paid through the Walter Sondheim Jr. Maryland Nonprofit Leadership Program. Continue reading

Engineering Intern Finds His Calling in Construction

By Sonia Su

Read the original story on Patch.com.

Whiting-Turner intern Kabish Shah stands in front of the second phase of the construction for a performing arts building. Credit: Sonia Su.

Whiting-Turner intern Kabish Shah stands in front of the second phase of the construction for a performing arts building. Credit: Sonia Su.

 

Intern Profile

Name: Kabish Shah
Title: Mechanical Engineering Project Intern at The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company
School: University of Maryland Baltimore County
Majors: Mechanical Engineering and Mathematics

Watch the video on Patch.com to get an inside look into a mechanical engineering internship.

After touring the construction site for his school’s new performing arts building, Kabish Shah could see himself working at the construction management and general contracting company and applied for a summer internship through UMBC’s Shriver Center.

“Before this internship, I was pretty open because as a mechanical engineer … my choices are really broad,” Shah said, “but construction was definitely one of the choices and as soon as I found out about this, it was like a dream come true.”

Shah, who is entering his final year at UMBC, took the offer to work as a paid mechanical engineering project intern for The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company in April, before summer even began.

He expected that work would be solitary, but the experience has been “totally different.”

“I have no boss here [but] a senior leader who gives me projects. They’re always here helping me, training me [and] showing me things rather than just leaving me out in the dark,” Shah said.

In addition to helping the engineers on their projects, he also works on auditing, cost tracking and budgeting.

In light of recent debates over the legality of unpaid internships across the country, Shah said being paid gives interns who might otherwise be distracted by other priorities more of an incentive to work hard.

But being paid was only one of the positives about his internship, Shah said. It also allowed him to make a positive contribution to UMBC.

“I believe in giving back to the community, so being a student at UMBC and working on a project at UMBC, I feel like I’m giving something back to the school, and I’m really proud of that,” he said.

This fall, Shah will be extending his internship with the company. After graduation, he hopes to work full-time.

“I just literally cannot wait for the day to move my graduation tassel from right to left and schedule an interview for full-time employment with Whiting-Turner [and] start as a project engineer,” he said.

Watch the video on Patch.com to get an inside look into a mechanical engineering internship.

About this series: As part of our jobs reporting, Patch is profiling people on internships throughout Maryland, focusing on the issue of paid and unpaid positions. Should interns be paid? Let us know in the comments below.

Editor’s Note: This story was written by a paid intern at Patch.

4 Questions to Ask Before Taking an Unpaid Internship

Compare paid internship experience with unpaid in this infographic with 2013 data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Credit: Sonia Su.

Compare paid internship experience with unpaid in this infographic with 2013 data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Credit: Sonia Su.

By Sonia Su

Read the original story on Patch.com.

With the summer of 2013 almost over, college students are already looking for internships for next year, with the big question being: Would I work for free?

Baltimore’s college career experts share advice on questions students should ask themselves when deciding whether to take an unpaid internship or to find another paid opportunity.

  1. Do my responsibilities comply with the law?
    Unpaid intern Eric Glatt from the 2010 movie “Black Swan” proved unpaid internships can be illegal. The guidelines outlined in the Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act should be your first checkpoints when evaluating an unpaid internship. Knowing about the act made Glatt realize that Fox Searchlight Pictures had violated minimum wage laws. Glenda Henkel, associate director and internship program coordinator at Towson University’s Career Center, said that she ensures that employers who do not pay interns are “well-informed about the Fair Labor Standards Act and about the academic focus of the internship.”Another checkpoint? Take a look at National Association of Colleges and Employers, which conducts research on college career-related topics. “All interns, regardless of their compensation, should enjoy similar basic protections in the work setting consistent with all laws, ethical considerations, and sound business practices,” according to a statement by the nonprofit, which gives its own definition of internships. Continue reading

Interns Who Make Headlines—Not Coffee

Baltimore-area student interns talk about their experiences this summer at various companies. Credit: Sonia Su.

Baltimore-area student interns talk about their experiences this summer at various companies. Credit: Sonia Su.

By Sonia Su

Read the original story on Patch.com.

Interns have made news before. But this year, they’re not only sparking controversy, they’re starting a national debate.

It was an intern who was blamed for confirming the fake and racially insensitive names of the pilots on Asiana Airlines Flight 214. It was a 16-year-old “reporter” who caused a stir when he “massively trolled the White House” asking about threats against George Zimmerman’s family. And, groups of interns are winning lawsuits over not being paid.

As a summer of traditionally free labor comes to an end, interns, it seems, are demanding more attention.

Previously often relegated to fetching coffee and running errands, interns are now demanding respect through campaigns, petitions and even lawsuits, pointing out that in a strained economy they are now doing much of the same work as their paid counterparts, with some 50 percent of their interns getting nothing in return for their labor.

A federal judge in Manhattan ruled on June 11 that Fox Searchlight Pictures violated U.S. and New York minimum wage laws for “Black Swan” interns, and similar lawsuits have followed against other employers, according to Reuters.

“I think organizations need to be careful,” said Christine Routzahn, director of the University of Maryland Baltimore County’s internship program. “An organization that is using an intern for a position that they normally pay for or [impacts] their bottom line and they’re a for-profit organization … should really look at that case law and say, ‘Can I be next?’ “

Eric Glatt, the former “Black Swan” intern who successfully sued Fox Searchlight Pictures, is now part of a group called Intern Labor Rights and works as a paid legal research assistant. Continue reading