From the Executive Editor’s Desk: Landing internship success lies on the doorstep of students
By Olivia Tattory
Let me begin this column by stating that we, the students on this campus and on every other campus in the country, are adults. Along with the transition from high school to college comes responsibility and, more importantly, accountability. You cannot, I repeat cannot, graduate from Rider and blame professors, administrators or anyone else for your lack of involvement, lack of work experience and/or the missed lessons you should have learned in your four years here. You control what organizations you belong to, you control your GPA, and you control how you spend your time at Rider.
That being said, when I hear someone complain about how the University and, more specifically, the Department of Communication and Journalism don’t do enough to help students find an internship or “easily locate the information without going crazy about it,” I get very irritated. With graduation right around the corner, 63 days away to be exact, I look back at my time at Rider and know that I made the most of it. I transferred in the spring of my sophomore year, and this semester marks two years that I’ve been a Bronc. Upon transferring, I immediately took advantage of the resources and organizations available, one being The Rider News, and another Dr. Turner of the Department of Communication and Journalism.
Within three months, I had landed a fall internship with the Investigative Unit at WABC Channel 7 in New York City. I specifically remember Dr. Turner congratulating me and adding that when I was finished with that one to let him know, so we could find yet another company to intern at. A year later, and through my own pursuit, I was interviewing with The Princeton Packet for a summer internship. And just a week ago, again through my own networking, I was offered an internship with the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, a perfect prerequisite for law school in the fall. My purpose is not to blabber on about how many internships I’ve had, but instead to point out that when you are looking for an internship, it does in fact take a little effort.
Web sites like njintern.com and campusinternships.com offer valuable resources for college students looking to branch out and actually get some experience while still in school. If that doesn’t work for you, monster.com, careerbuilder.com and even craigslist.com are places you can search. However, in my opinion, the smarter and more determined student will contact the company he or she is interested in directly. It doesn’t take much time to pick up a phone, ask for the human resources department and inquire about internships. This actually puts you ahead of the game because you are now not just a résumé — you are a voice on the telephone and someone who took that extra step. It says a lot about you and your ambition.
My next word of advice is to network and use your contacts. Every time I meet someone either in a professional setting or just a casual one, I ask for a business card. I ask about their career choice, their specific position and any advice they may have for a soon-to-be college graduate. Next, I follow up by at least e-mailing and in some cases even sending a personal thank you card in the mail, and yes, the mail that requires an envelope and stamp. These are the people you will be contacting regarding internships and eventually even “real jobs.”
And finally, before anyone complains about there “not being any cool internships around here,” think about what you’re saying. Rider is located on a prime piece of real estate between Philadelphia and New York City, an area countless companies call home. Not to mention Princeton, Trenton and even Lawrenceville, which all offer fantastic opportunities for those actually looking to take advantage.
Professors know professionals in the area, administrators have contacts like you wouldn’t believe and you, believe it or not, also know the right people. I can almost guarantee that if you take the initiative and do a little searching, you will find an internship. The last thing you would ever want to do is complain that other people aren’t doing enough to place one in your lap — it’s simply not their job to do so.
And one last thing, be sure to keep in contact with whomever you interned for. They come in handy when looking for a recommendation — or even a job.