By Stefanie Phillips, RSJ ’18
As the first round of six-week undergraduate internships wrapped up last month, we spoke to some fourth-year students about their experiences on the job at fast-paced Toronto news organizations.
Each semester, final-year students in the masthead and internship stream of the Bachelor of Journalism program spend six weeks interning at an organization of their choice. The students choose where they want to apply and submit a resume along with work samples. They are then interviewed for the internship and, if successful, hired for the position. Many of the opportunities are unpaid, but all are for course credit.
For several students in the first cycle, the internship was a positive experience that helped them add valuable skillsets to their resumes.
Morgan Bocknek completed her internship at the Globe and Mail, where she said her faith in the industry was “restored.”
“Just being surrounded by such talent all the time is hugely inspiring and I just wish we could all experience it,” she said.
Bocknek said she was assigned stories throughout her internship but was also expected to pitch her own ideas to editors. She said editors at the Globe were both supportive and approachable adding that she was often given ample time to develop her stories and “make them sing.”
Bocknek wrote about a range of Canadian stories during her internship, from hot classrooms in the Toronto-area to dedicated Ontario surfers, but her piece on the pandas leaving the Toronto Zoo stands out as one of her favourites because it was featured on the front page of the Globe Toronto section of the print paper.
“I was an addition to a fully functioning, striving operation,” she said. “Since the environment was so supportive it was just so much fun. I [was] never spoken down to…questions [were] really encouraged.”
Around the same time Bocknek started at the Globe and Mail, Brenda Molina-Navidad was starting her internship with the digital team at CablePulse 24 (CP24).
Since her early days at the school of journalism as an eager first-year student, Molina-Navidad imagined spending her six-week internship at the busy Bell Media television channel and online publication.
“I really just wanted to learn from them as much as possible and I feel like I have,” she said. “Everyone has been super amazing with me.”
She said her first day was spent getting to know everyone and learning the pace of the newsroom. “It’s not really like a typical newsroom. It’s not like you are working for a broadcast for six o’clock. This is live every 30 minutes.”
Most of her internship was spent writing stories for the digital team and occasionally going out with TV crews to film segments for the show. She said the most rewarding experience of her internship was when a story she pitched and wrote on Invictus Games volunteers was published on the website.
Kathryn Skelly spent her internship at CBC News’ Marketplace learning more about investigative journalism and the research that goes into every show. She said the investigative pace at Marketplace gave her an appreciation and respect for consumer affairs. (She wasn’t able to talk about the stories she worked on because they have yet to air.)
Skelly was intrigued that each episode had to be lawyered by a specialist in the issues being highlighted for that specific show. “These investigations and this type of research is the most in-depth I’ve ever gone,” she said. “Every word matters because it’s in the investigative unit.”
Skelly said she spent weeks in the summer preparing for her internship in the fall. But nothing could prepare her for the initial feelings of self-doubt during her first news meeting at Marketplace.
“I think you just come to realize that journalism and in the industry it’s not a place for fear,” she said. “You just can’t work if you’re holding back and not giving your ideas. … If you have an idea, if you have something to contribute just put it out there. … At the beginning, that definitely took some getting used to.”
The Score: What I did on my fall internship