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News: SPJ applauds City of Tupelo, SPJ member, for bringing electronic public records into compliance with law
News: Andy Schotz named SPJ Regional Director of the Year
News: Dana Neuts installed as 2014-2015 SPJ President
News: Kevin Smith receives Wells Memorial Key, highest SPJ honor
News: SPJ updates Code of Ethics
News: Kara Swisher spoke at Excellence in Journalism 2014 about being a female entrepreneur in journalism, tech
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Chester C. Wells: His Story
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|Most of the dozens of interns I have had at my office over the past 15 years have been more 'with it.' Most are bright, energetic and enthusiastic, and remind me and my staff of why we got into this crazy business in the first place. And, they taught us how to use computers, operate programs and navigate the Internet!|
— Advertise your internship at local colleges and on the Internet.
— Hold an orientation prior to the beginning of the semester outlining the program and the amount of work you expect the intern to complete in order to fulfill the requirements of the program.
— Be clear about dress codes, ethics and office protocol; discuss SPJ’s code of ethics and the resources it offers students.
— Interview each intern, assessing their writing and reporting abilities, their interests and determine what they hope to gain from the internship.
— If the intern has a guidance counselor, call them at the beginning of the semester and discuss the student’s strengths and weaknesses so you know what type of student you are dealing with and what level of competence they have reached.
— Tailor a program for each student. Some students may need basic instruction beginning with how to use the telephone system, fax or other office machines, while others can jump right in and report on a major news story.
— Break up the monotony of the semester with a trip to the police station to gather news, the printing plant or the local court for some off-site experience.
— Set up a folder for each intern and ensure that they keep copies of all their work in it. Anything that is removed from the office should be photocopied first. You would be surprised how many interns have had their paperwork lost or eaten by their dog.
— File all messages or work assignments in the folders. This helps in the event you are not in the office one day and helps them to establish a sense of independence about their work assignments.
— Have each student fill out a form with their name, address, phone number and e-mail address, as well as the semester they worked in your office. Print it out and keep it, adding a head shot of the student. It is not unusual for you to get calls even years later for a reference. With this information in hand, it is easier to recall the student, and enables you to access the work they did so you can give a more accurate reference.
— You can offer a paid internship, a non-paid internship or one that offers a small stipend as the student completes each assignment or at the end of the semester.
Remember that your part of the bargain is to give the student a valuable and well-rounded internship. There is no doubt that it takes time away from your work week, but the rewards are bountiful. My interns are now reporters for major dailies across the country. One covered the White House and another works for CBS news in South Carolina. Some are teachers and public relations specialists. I have been invited to their weddings and keep in touch with many of them by phone and e-mail. Some, like the gal who could allow blaring fire engines to speed past her doorstep without the sound elevating her heartbeat at all have, thankfully, gone on to other careers. All, however, have taught me more than I have ever taught them.