It’s critical that you get real-world, hands-on experiences based on the skills and ethics we teach you in class. That’s why every degree-seeking journalism undergraduate MUST land a journalism internship. You’ll also be asked to take a corresponding internship class in order to graduate.
If you want to do more than just one internship, note that undergraduates may also receive internship credit for an elective class. Master’s students are encouraged to find internships and may take one for credit. Our internship classes are discussed below.
How To Land An Internship
While there’s more information elsewhere on these pages, here are your quick tips:
- Check the web for the media you read and use – chances are good that company will have an internship program.
- Ask your friends or professors for recommendations about internships they know about.
- Read the emails from the Merrill College Career Center. Director Karen Denny will send out information about internships as she hears about them.
- On Twitter, be sure to follow @MerrillWorx and @merrillcollege.
- Look on the boards on the first- and third-floor hallways, where internship fliers are posted.
- Check the evergreen listings of local media elsewhere on this website for ideas about where to look.
- Now apply with a good cover letter, resume and portfolio.
What Counts For Credit
- It must be JOURNALISM. No public relations, marketing, communications, sales, events or promotions opportunities are going to cut it for our credit. Think independent – if you can’t say something critical about the topic you’re covering without getting shot down, then it’s probably not journalism. (Some exceptions may be made for production-only internships or for the JOUR 199 credit on a case-by-case basis).
- It may be in-person or virtual, although in-person is preferred. We want you in a newsroom to experience the mentorship, camaraderie and regular work environment. However, we recognize that many internships converted to virtual during the pandemic. All internships must be supervised and cannot be self-posting; all previously in-person internships that converted to virtual are automatically approved. Always-virtual internships will be evaluated case by case for quality.
- Internships in the newsrooms of independent, general-interest newspapers, news websites, magazines, television or radio news departments or network news operations count for JOUR 396 credit. So do production internships at most commercial sports news operations (such as NBC Sports Washington or ESPN), and internships at specialty publications, such as the Baltimore Business Journal, The Daily Record in Baltimore, special-interest magazines, trade publications, and the Washington bureaus of news outlets. (Please: No working for teams, team owners, stadiums, leagues, talk shows of any kind, nonprofit advocates, entertainment television/film producers, federal or state government press offices or religious organizations, except independent news producers.)
- We expect you to work in internships that put to use the tools you have earned in journalism classes, such as reporting, story research, writing, copy editing, broadcast news production, assignment desk duties, web production or editing, news videography or photography, audio editing, graphics, page design, social media management or data-driven graphics. You can expect to do some grunt work on your internship, but that should not be the bulk of what you do. And grabbing coffee or lunch for your colleagues or supervisors may be a nice thing to do, but it should not be a part of your internship requirements.
So now you have an internship. What class do you take and what do you need to do to register?
In all cases, you MUST MEET with Karen Denny, Merrill College's internships and career development director, to receive approval to register for class. She’ll need your unofficial academic transcript and a signed Intern Proposal Form. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, to schedule an appointment to go over this paperwork, to review the syllabus and course requirements and to complete an academic honesty pledge. This must occur before the end of the drop/add/schedule adjustment period.
This is the OPTIONAL, elective class for any undergraduate student who has taken and passed 201. Take this class for unpaid internships for practice where credit is required or where you want your internship to show up on your transcript. There are no regular class meetings; the class is conducted through ELMS.
It requires you to:
- Work at least 60 hours under the supervision of professional journalists for at least eight (8) weeks during the Spring or Fall semesters, at least five (5) weeks during either summer term or at least three (3) weeks during winter term. All hours counted toward this requirement must fall on or after the first class day of the session enrolled until the last class day of that session. (See special summer rules.) You may work MORE than required, but not less, or risk failing the class.
- Contribute to a class blog on ELMS reflecting on your experience.
- Turn in timesheets proving your hours.
- Be evaluated at least once in writing by your supervisor.
JOUR199 may be repeated, with permission of the instructor.
This class is the REQUIRED for graduation for undergraduate journalism majors on the Gen-Ed curriculum (look on the top of your unofficial transcript in Testudo for this information). It requires you to work off campus in a professional journalism internship. This class does not have regular sessions, although you must meet at least twice with your instructor; it largely is conducted through ELMS. This class is not offered in winter term or in the second summer session.
It requires you to:
- Have taken and earned a “C-” or better in JOUR201 to enroll.
- Have a minimum 2.0 GPA.
- Work a minimum of 90 hours over at least 10 weeks during the spring or fall sessions and a minimum of eight weeks in the summer (It is offered only during the first summer session, but students have until the end of the second summer session to complete the requirements.) All hours counted toward this requirement must fall on or after the first class day of the session enrolled until the last class day of that session. You may work MORE than required, but not less, or risk failing the class.
- Complete a reflection essay about the company and your experiences.
- Meet once with your instructor and complete your job-seeking documents: resume, cover letter and reference list.
- Attend a career panel or presentation by professionals in the industry.
- Produce a portfolio of work or diary of experiences earned on your internship.
- Turn in timesheets.
- Be evaluated twice by your off-campus internship supervisor.
Steps to take to secure credit
Your employer may require you to provide a letter assuring them you’re a student in good standing here at the college. Here’s how you get one of those:
Internships and Career Development Director Karen Denny is always ready to help – set up an appointment today!
Send an email to Internships and Career Development Director Karen Denny, or call her at 301-775-8483. Office: 3105A Knight Hall.
- The details of your employment – what you will do and who you will be doing it for. Make sure it’s a journalism job.
- The supervisor’s name and title, the company and address of the person who is to receive the letter, and an email address for the supervisor.
- Your unofficial transcripts, so that the director can verify that you are a student in good standing at Merrill College.
- Please allow time for Ms. Denny to prepare the letter. Last-minute requests will be accommodated as schedules permit. This letter DOES NOT REPLACE completion of the registration steps outlined above.
- Students may not earn credit for internships retroactively.
- The deadline for enrollment is firm. No requests for late registration will be honored.
- Only JOUR199 is offered during the winter term and summer session II.
Look for opportunities to get experience during the summer and during winter term.
Many Merrill College students hold down internships during the school year that go beyond their core requirements. Be sure to take advantage of the Journalism Career Fair – held in October at Stamp Student Union.
Recruiters come to Knight Hall many times throughout the school year as well. Making early contacts can lead to internships and even jobs down the line.