How to be a Good News Intern

by - March 05, 2013

One of the most important steps to becoming a journalist these days is your internship(s). It's where you get some hands-on experience and get to see first-hand how the business really works. A successful internship often times leads to a good job. Screwing up your internship could leave you holding a losing hand before the game even truly begins.

Since I started working at my station nearly 3 years ago, we've had many interns - some good, some bad, but until a few weeks ago we've never had to fire one. You're probably thinking interns can't be fired. You'd be wrong. Sometimes an intern is so bad, so useless, there's no other choice. So I'm here to offer some foolproof tips to have a good news internship.

First tip - never ever go into an internship under false pretenses. For example, our most recent "intern" thought it would be cool to hang out with the people she saw on t.v. Obviously that won't get you in the door, so this "intern" lied and told our news director she was studying to be a meteorologist. After spending two weeks with our evening met, we discovered she had no intention of even going into news. After a month of her just 'hanging out' and causing lots of distractions, we fired her.

Second tip - be productive. An internship is not a free period and shouldn't be treated as such. Therefor, you should not spend your days on Facebook, Twitter or your blog - even if you see employees on theirs. Chances are those employees are on their professional sites. On a related note, you probably want to go ahead and make all of your personal accounts totally private. You wouldn't want your internship boss, who is a potential employer, stumbling across any inappropriate photos or posts.

Third tip - ask lots of questions and volunteer for assignments. Your internship is about learning and making connections. If you just sit in the corner or stay on your phone/computer all day, you won't accomplish either. Plus, you look lazy and disinterested.

Fourth tip - dress appropriately. You may still be in college but remember in this business, appearance is everything. And while sex appeal is certainly taken into consideration when hiring new talent, looking like a whore isn't going to score you any brownie points. And yes, casual attire is common, especially for behind-the-scenes people, but wearing pajamas just make you look like a slob. Your internship is your first real opportunity to make an impression in this business, so dress the part.

Fifth tip - have fun. Seriously. If you're going into this business, it's because you love it. With that reasoning, your internship is like your first step. It should be fun. If you're not having fun, you probably want to consider another line of work.

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  1. You are just getting old enough to experience the "generation gap" between you and the fresh young faces emerging from college. Many of these younger people don't have the work ethic that is required for success in broadcast news or any other professional career. In this post of yours I recognized interns that I worked with along the way. There were some who got in under the false pretense that they were content with a career behind the camera when, in reality, they had dreams of stardom as the next Barbara Walters. I remember female interns who dressed provocatively and sucked up to the most handsome air personalities in hoping of becoming their g.f. They were indeed a distraction although I don't remember any of them getting fired. This is a very valuable post and I hope prospective news interns read it.

    1. haha One can only hope, but I don't think I'm that famous yet ;)

  2. i used to be suspicious of internships as they want people to work for free. UGH!!! i never went that route, but in some industries being an intern is KEY to getting a good job. your tips are invaluable and should be handed out to interns in your office. seriously!

    1. A lot of news interns are paid nowadays. I know mine wasn't, but once I finished my "boss" did give me a very generous monetary gift.

      And maybe I should print this out. I've experienced every single one of those no-no's from interns.

  3. All very good advice. And a lot of it applies to any job that you have/love. :)

    P.S. I nominated you for an awardy-award @ my bloggy-blog :)