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“What I am Working on Today” Blog

Providing Internship Help

March 26, 2014

Michael Bugeja, director,
Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication,
Iowa State University of Science and Technology


The Greenlee School at Iowa State University enjoys generous alumni support, enabling us to award more than $150,000 per year to majors in advertising, journalism and public relations. Our school also has one of the most rigorous internship requirements in the nation—a 400-hour professor supervised stint at a media outlet that meets our criteria for supervision and on-the-job training.

The Greenlee School also has terrific internship providers, including the Scripps Howard Foundation. Meredith Corporation supports select students with year-round apprenticeships in Des Moines at top magazines in addition to marketing and multimedia teams, supervised by our professional in residence, Deb Gibson.

We have an internship coordinator, data on assessment and more in touting our criteria and stringent requirements. We also boast results. About half of all our majors land internships at top media companies such as CNN, MTV, The Wall Street Journal, The Des Moines Register, Edelman and Weber Shandwick. To see where our students typically work, click here.

But what about the other half of our majors who accept non-paying internships? Often these students require substantial loans to operate in media-hub cities. They also are paying for three credit hours. The few whose families can afford the expense are fortunate; however, the majority of our students must take out additional loans.

The Greenlee School has been working on graduating majors in 4-4 ½ years (more than 60% do and 6% in three years) and reducing loan debt, especially for journalism majors. See this article on the ASJMC site.

So what am I working on today? A message to our majors who have unpaid internships informing them to apply for funds we set aside, about $20,000, to be awarded by our Scholarship Committee. We won’t be able to underwrite all of our students with non-paying internships, but we will be able to make a difference for those selected for the stipends.

The bottom line will be less student debt. That is what this additional support is about.

As administrators of journalism programs, we have a responsibility to ensure an appropriate work experience via regularly assessed internships; we also have a duty to raise funds for scholarships and internships and to thank benefactors who provide those funds. After I inform students about internship support, I will be working on a message to our donors that they are making a difference, too.

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