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Landing The Internship Is Only Step One

December 14, 2011

David Oliver (@doliver8) is a sophomore journalism major at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is pursuing magazine journalism and an English concentration.

Blogger David OliverBy David Oliver

At the end of my first semester at college last fall, as I was slaving away studying for finals, I received an e-mail from The Washington Post Express about a possible internship interview. After frantically sharing the news on Facebook and tweeting about it to all my followers, I set something up and had the internship a few weeks later.

Little did I know that one e-mail would change the course of my internship and career experience.

Be ready for transportation.

Your job isn’t always going to be 20 minutes away. Since the University of Maryland is close to Washington, I was able to commute twice a week to Express, but it took a 45-minute Metro ride to get there. And there were ALWAYS delays. Once, the train was delayed 20 minutes and I had to show up late to work – very embarrassing, but understandable given the circumstance. I left even earlier from school after that to make sure I got to work on time.

At Express, I created headlines and decks for stories and web produced articles that appeared in the print edition. This skill is vital in today’s ever-changing news atmosphere, where access to news exists 24/7.

This experience inspired me to apply for a job as a staff writer for College Magazine, a virtual magazine by and for college students across the nation.

Cherish your laptop.

Your laptop is your best friend – it holds all your vital information, whether that is word documents or passwords to your favorite websites. One way to ensure your best friend never leaves you? Back it up on a hard drive. I had a scare the first week of September and dragged a friend with me to the nearest Apple store to straighten things out, and it felt like my world was crashing in. The life of a modern day journalist – and any job in today’s world, really – revolves around the use of a computer. Never take it for granted.

After writing for College Magazine and various other publications throughout the rest of the semester and summer, I applied for and became the entertainment section editor. Although the initial promotion felt overwhelming, I figured out how to best manage my time. How did I do that?

Make time for a life.

I dropped a class within the first few weeks of the semester because I knew it would have been too much on top of everything else I was doing. Fortunately, I had enough credits to do so. What higher-ups often forget to tell you is that although job and internship experience is key, we’re college students. We have friends, relationships, organizations, homework and sleep. An internship on top of all that can be quite daunting, especially if it’s your first one, so make sure you’re taking the appropriate amount of classes and can balance work, activities and a social life.

I will be interning at USA TODAY this spring, with a sense of pride in my work, love of journalism and appreciation for my experience.

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