Philip Merrill College of Journalism students regularly land school-year internships at such prestigious media outlets as National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, Washingtonian magazine, network and local TV news stations, SiriusXM, WTOP and WBAL radio stations, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun and USA Today, McClatchy, NBC Sports Washington and ESPN.
Additionally, students find opportunities in Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Miami, Indianapolis, Tampa and elsewhere during summer and winter breaks, at news outlets such as NPR, the Indianapolis Star, Reuters, Axios, CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox News, Fox Sports, Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping magazines.
Merrill College offers extensive support for you to help you find just the right internship. Your best single resource is Adrianne Flynn, our internships and career development director. Always start with her as you begin your internship journey.
This is sometimes a lengthy process, so don’t procrastinate. Start applying at least two or three months ahead. For summer internships, you may need to start in the fall. Summer internships are quite competitive, particularly at large daily newspapers and networks, and deadlines can be as early as October.
Merrill College doesn’t place you in an internship, but it helps in many ways. It provides:
- A student listserv. The internship director regularly sends out listings of opportunities for journalism majors to consider – internships, jobs, scholarships and more. Many of the internships are eligible for JOUR 399. Delete these messages at your peril.
- Tweets about jobs and internships. Join Twitter and follow @merrillcollege and @MerrillWorx.
- Facebook posts about journalism jobs, on the Merrill College page.
- The Internship and Job Fair. Held each October, it is attended by dozens of employers from all types of media, large and small. Some are looking for interns, others for entry-level employees. Even if you don’t plan to seek an internship in the spring semester, you should still go – you will meet employers and learn a lot about the industry. These employers come to campus to meet you – it can’t get any easier than that. Dress as you would for a job interview and bring a dozen or so copies of your resume.
- On-campus interviews. Some employers come to campus – especially in the fall – to interview prospective interns and employees one on one, separate from the career fair. Students apply for interview slots. Information on these interviews is shared by the internship director on the listserv.
- Journalism bulletin boards. Great to peruse while waiting for class. Fliers and other documents about internships and scholarships are posted there. See especially the two boards in the waiting room of 1100 Knight Hall, as well as the first floor bulletin board closest to that office.
Can’t find what you are looking for in any of these places? You can also:
- Search the web yourself! Many students locate their own internships this way. Try this: plug in the name of the news organization and the word “intern” into Google. That will often pull up application information.
- Ask your peers! Many have had internships and can pass along tips and contacts.
The Philip Merrill College of Journalism offers several scholarships for interns. Read about the scholarships below and apply here if you're interested.
Penny Bender Fuchs Internship Grant
This fund was established by colleagues, family and friends of Penny Bender Fuchs, an admired and respected member of the Merrill College faculty from 1999 until her death in 2013. Rising Merrill College juniors and seniors are eligible for this award. Preference is given to students who might not otherwise be able to participate in an internship due to financial limitations. Preference is also given to students who have earned a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher in journalism courses. Apply.
John A. Jenkins ’72 Internship Award
Established by John Jenkins ’72, founder and CEO of Law Street Media, president and publisher emeritus of CQ Press in Washington, D.C., and author of “The Partisan: The Life of William Rehnquist.” This fund provides travel- or tuition-related internship expenses for Merrill College students who might not otherwise be able to participate in internships due to financial limitations. Apply.
Joseph R. Slevin Award
Established by the family of the late Joseph R. Slevin, former president of the National Press Club and National Press Foundation, former journalist with the Journal of Commerce, New York Herald-Tribune, Times of London and The New York Times, and author for 19 years of a widely syndicated column covering economics. This scholarship is awarded in consultation with the Merrill College internship director to students who obtain a full-time summer internship with a leading media organization in the area of political or economic reporting. Scholarships will cover the cost of tuition for internship academic credits and expenses associated with the internship. Apply.
The Philip Merrill College of Journalism's Career Fair is an annual event on the third Monday of October.
Dozens of recruiters from all types of media organizations from around the country help make our career fair a spectacular success. Some students earn internships immediately, others got jobs, everyone got great advice.
Why is the Merrill Career Fair so successful? The fair attracts dozens of recruiters and media professionals, along with hundreds of journalism students, who use this as a vehicle for landing spring and summer internships as well as job prospects.
The following media organizations typically send recruiters: USA Today, Thomson Reuters news service, McClatchy, NBC TV, WUSA9 TV, WJZ TV, WTOP Radio, The Baltimore Sun, the Capital Gazette, The Fund for American Studies, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Atlantic Media.
A representative from the university’s Career Center is usually on hand as well to offer advice and resume tips.
In addition, our alumni lead panels on careers in journalism.
Recruiters: Our deadline to secure a table in the Grand Ballroom of the Stamp Student Union is mid-October.
Resume & Cover Letter Tips
Need assistance writing your journalism resume or cover letter? These tips will help.
You’ll need to create a resume before you start applying for journalism internships or jobs.
- The trick is to produce an easy-to-read, one-page document that provides your contact information, details on your past employment and journalism experience, awards and special skills. Most employers will spend only a few seconds reading it. You want to leave a good impression by being accurate, concise and direct.
- We encourage you to also post your resume online using a blogging tool, such as WordPress (although you might not want to list your home address or phone number on this Web version). However, don’t send a print-out of your online version by mail or fax. It won’t look as professional as one created on paper. Create a separate word or rich text version for mailing.
- It’s OK to design a resume using a graphics program, but make sure you also have a plain-vanilla version that can be easily emailed to an employer, using Microsoft Word (which offers a number of resume templates), rich text or PDF, for instance. (It won’t matter how pretty your resume looks if the employer cannot open the file.)
- A journalism resume must be a single page.
- Avoid using “I” or other personal pronouns.
- Break up your resume with small subheads for each major category under your name and contact info. Subheads might include: Education, Journalism Experience, Other Work Experience, Awards and Honors, Memberships, Specialized Skills.
- Do include what degree you are seeking and when you expect to graduate in the Education area; include your GPA if it is a 3.5 or better. Do spell the name of our college and university correctly. (One out of every 20 resumes I see misspells Philip Merrill.)
- List activities and jobs in reverse chronological order within each of these categories.
- Use 12-point type for the body of your resume – don’t reduce the type. If an employer has to squint or strain, she may not bother to read it. Use a bit larger font for your name and subheads, and bold them. Stay away from hard-to-read fonts. Choose only one or two font styles for the whole page and be consistent. All subheads should be in the same font style; all body type should be in the same font style. If your achievements don’t fit onto one page, write more concisely.
- Use white space efficiently. Use bullets and indentations sparingly.
- Objective sentences are unnecessary on resumes when applying for journalism jobs. You will discuss your objectives in your cover letter.
- Use past tense to describe past experiences. Use present tense for the activities that are ongoing at the time you are sending your resume.
- Be specific and be honest! Don’t claim to be a staff writer for a campus publication if you only attended one meeting. Also, don’t say you are “currently” working for a publication or news station if you are taking a semester break.
- Tailor your job objective for a cover letter. Don’t put something generic on your resume.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread. Typos or grammatical errors will cost you jobs.
The Resume Categories
Be sure your name is bold and in larger type than the rest. Use the address where you will most likely be receiving mail (rather than having it forwarded to you), the phone with the most reliable message system and the email address you check most often. For instance:
1111 Turtle Lane, College Park, Md. 20742
Home: 301-555-1122; Cell: 240-111-6666
If you are serious about looking for a job, be sure your voicemail and email address reflect your intentions. (In other words, remove the musical intro on your voice mail and avoid cutesy or suggestive email addresses.) Once you’ve sent your resume, be sure to regularly check your email as well as your phone for messages.
List your university, the degree you are seeking and the anticipated date of graduation. You may also list a great GPA – 3.5 or better. If you have a citation from an academic honors program such as Gemstone or College Park Scholars or have studied abroad for a semester or two, you should list that here, as well. Example:
University of Maryland, Philip Merrill College of Journalism, College Park, Md. Double major in journalism and political science. GPA: 3.8. B.A. anticipated in May 2011.
List what you did, where you did it and when. Also include a line that tells the employer the size and type of publication, the website usage or the market of the broadcast station. To make the text stand out, use italics and bolding sparingly. For example:
Statehouse reporter, Capital News Service, Annapolis, Md. – September to December 2010.
Covered the Maryland General Assembly as part of a university-run wire service with more than 74 clients. Focused on clean and alternative energy.
News editor, The Diamondback, College Park, Md. – January to May 2010.
Served as chief news editor for university’s independent daily student news outlet with circulation of 17,000. Oversaw a staff of 10 reporters.
Other Work Experience
Here’s where your list summer jobs, on-campus or part-time positions and other volunteer activities. Don’t hesitate to put that waitress or sales clerk position down – it shows you can juggle work and school and understand the value of a job. Any mentoring and tutoring experiences should go here, too.
Awards, Honors, Memberships
Put down scholarships, writing awards and other honors you’ve been given. Memberships or other affiliations can go here, as well.
A good category to include, but only if you’ve got some. Don’t put Microsoft Word. That’s not specialized. But if you are familiar with a particular broadcast editing system such as Avid, or have proficiency with web-editing tools such as Dreamweaver or WordPress, photo-editing tools such as Photoshop, audio-editing tools such as Adobe Audition or Audacity, video-editing tools such as Final Cut, interactive web tools, or have studied computer-assisted reporting with Ira Chinoy, or speak Spanish or another language fluently, put it down! The rule of thumb is – if it makes you stand out from the other candidates, it’s worth including on your resume.
Place a list of references on a separate sheet, with all your contact information from your resume at the top. These sheets should MATCH your resume; same font styles and sizes.
Who should be a reference? Previous/current employers, professors, adults who know you well and can speak to your character. Never include other students. Make sure you have asked your references if they mind getting a call from a potential employer — and if the can say good things about you. If using a professor, use those who taught classes in which you earned an A or B.
Include each reference’s name, title, company, work phone number and email address at a minimum. If you can, also include work addresses for each.
Include three to five references on your sheet, unless specifically told otherwise.
Letters of reference
They're nice, but not necessary unless specifically requested by the employer.
Always send a cover letter or an email message with a resume. Which is more appropriate? It depends on these factors:
- If you are mailing your application, a formal business letter is most appropriate.
- If you are emailing your application, pay attention to what the employer has requested. If she or he asks for a cover letter, send one. If none is requested, a short, professionally worded email should be fine.
Whichever type of letter you use, consider it an opportunity to demonstrate good writing and professionalism.
Tips for both letters and emails
- Keep your text short, accurate and concise.
- Always address your letter or email to the appropriate editor or producer. Make sure you spell his or her name correctly. With names such as Chris and Randy and Tracy, don’t assume the gender. Always triple-check spelling of names and titles, using different, reliable sources.
- Do not start the text with, “To Whom It May Concern.” Use your journalism training and find out who is doing the hiring.
- Do not address a professional you do not know by his or her first name. Use Mr., Mrs. or Ms.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread.
- Always fully identify yourself — first and last name, especially if your email address does not identify you fully.
- Use a proper format – a greeting line, a paragraph or two of text and a closing line. IMing or text messaging are not acceptable formats for emails to professionals. Please use complete sentences, good grammar and spelling. This is expected of journalism students, and you will embarrass yourself if there are grammatical errors or typos in your email messages.
- Check your tone. Emails differ from telephone conversations, in which you can detect anger, humor, confusion, etc., at the other end. If you are making a request, do not put it in the form of a demand: “Send me the name of …” Avoid accusatory statements such as, “You did not respond to my email …”
Guidelines for cover letters
- Use a professional business letter format, with your address and the date at the top (either centered or aligned left), followed by the name, title, company and address of the recipient doublespaced below that (aligned left). Most software programs such as Word offer business letter templates.
- Avoid cuteness, colloquialisms, puns and off-color humor at all costs.
- Don’t be wishy-washy. You won’t inspire confidence with phrases such “I think I’m qualified,” or “I believe I’m the right person for the job,” so leave them out.
- Keep the letter to a single page, usually no more than three or four paragraphs. Employers are busy people. They don’t have time to read more than a few graphs. If you are having trouble making everything fit on one page, that’s a tip that your letter is too long.
Your first paragraph should grab the reader, motivate him or her to move on to your resume and clips. You can do that in three ways:
- An anecdote. Using a personal experience can illustrate your talents as a journalist. Your anecdote can be about a great story you broke, the way you pursued a particular source or something more personal that inspired you to enter journalism. The trick is to keep is short – it’s only the introduction.
- A personal reference from someone the reader respects is another good opener. Examples would include a colleague, a former boss or a well-regarded professor. Make sure you have the person’s blessing before including him or her in the letter. Example: John Smith, city editor of the Maryland Banner, recommended I contact you.
- Get right to the point. If you lack an anecdote or a personal connection, simply introduce yourself and say why you would be worth hiring. Be confident.
Highlight your experience, but don’t exaggerate. Don’t repeat your resume — complement it. Talk briefly about stories you’ve written or experiences you’ve had that make you a great candidate for this particular job. Talk about your ambition and what motivates you. Avoid listing courses you’ve taken. JOUR 320 won’t have much meaning to an employer, and listing your college coursework just makes you seem young and inexperienced. Instead, talk about the skills you’ve gained in JOUR 320: you’ve learned to interview public officials, write a profile piece, bang out a story on deadline.
Wrap it up. Thank the editor or producer for considering you. Let them know you’ll be in touch in order to schedule an interview. Be sure to sign your letter.
Thank-you letters and emails
Good manners never go out of style. If an employer has taken the time to interview you, be sure to send a follow-up letter or email thanking him or her for the time. A letter is more formal than an email, but also more impressive. You can also use this letter as an opportunity to supply some fresh examples of your work.