Top 9 Things I’ve Learned from My Summer Internship

We’re halfway through the summer, and Berkeley J-School students are scattered around the globe working in a variety of internships. Whether joining the staff of an established news team, working with a small documentary crew or pursuing an independent project, second-year students are finding their summer isn’t the break it used to be.

We caught up with some members of the class of “÷17 to see what they’ve learned so far this summer. Here’s what they said.

  1. “Ask questions, get involved, and be nice–it goes a long way.” – Manjula Varghese, video intern, The New York Times, New York, NY

Manjula Varghese recommends speaking up and being willing to work collaboratively. It seems to be working for her. Her video on tree frogs hatching appeared on the homepage of The Times only weeks into her internship. Other J-School students are making a name for themselves at The Times. Jeremy Lin (“÷16) interned in the graphics department last year and Lucas Waldron (“÷17) is working alongside Varghese in the animation department this summer (see his comments below.)

2. ‰”Conducting an interview where you don’t really speak the language isn’t ideal, but is possible (record their responses, then take to a translator.)”– Levi Bridges, Associated Press, Moscow, Russia

In addition to his reporting work at the J-School last year, Levi Bridges also took on a full course load of Russian language study. His late nights reading classic poetry are paying off as Bridges reports on immigration and labor issues for the Associated Press thanks to his Overseas Press Club Fellowship.

3. ‰”After Effects is a skill everyone interested in multimedia should learn because it’s in high demand in digital journalism, and you will actually get paid.”– Lucas Waldron, animation intern, The New York Times, New York, NY

When it comes to multimedia, Lucas Waldron knows what he’s talking about. The Times is Waldron’s second internship this year, after producing video for KQED in San Francisco. Check out a video Waldron produced for the Times on the Panama Canal, using After Effects. The program is taught at the J-School in the multimedia program.

4. ‰”Get on air, and get on as often as you can”– Katherine Rose, Raven Radio, Sitka, Alaska

Katherine Rose says working at a small radio station in a remote area offers real benefits. Most importantly, you get on the air a lot. ‰”In Sitka, you’re guaranteed to host the evening news for the last month of your internship,” Rose says, ‰”but you should also take the opportunity to host music shows or talk shows. The people at Raven Radio are super open to your ideas.” She also provided some advice if you’re taking float planes to remote islands: “Be sure to take Dramamine. Lots and lots of Dramamine.”

5. ‰”Expect to fail, and delight (enormously) in any moments of success“- Jason Hanasik, 360 video intern, The Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, CA

As the L.A Times’ first ever 360 video intern, Jason Hanasik says you have to be prepared for bumps in the road, especially working with emerging technology. Hanasik also commented on the adjustment of moving from North Gate Hall to a real world, fast- paced newsroom. He says there will surely be moments of struggle, but it’s what you do with them that counts. ‰”That failure, though, is a gift. It’s taught me to be okay with “÷good enough’ so that stories get out the door. More importantly, I’ve learned how to keep pressing forward on the stories I still have in play when the ones I labored over are killed at the last minute.” Hanasik also says L.A. tacos are superior to burritos, by a long shot.

6. ‰”If you plan to interview high-ranking public figures, be prepared to jump through a lot of bureaucratic hoops.” – Peter Bittner, The Diplomat, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Peter Bittner is pursuing a reporting internship in Mongolia. Bittner interviewed the country’s foreign minister for The Diplomat and says getting to speak to high-ranking officials can be tricky. ‰”Obtaining official credentials, securing access, and getting permission can be very time-consuming and requires lots of patience, kind reminders and thank you’s.” Bittner also notes the range of dairy products in Mongolia’s markets. ‰”Not a country for the lactose-intolerant!” See his interview here.

7. ‰”Pitch. Pitch. Pitch.” – Waringa Kamau, CNN International, Atlanta, GA

Waringa Kamau says interns have a huge opportunity to make contributions of their own. ‰”I pitch everything from story ideas, to creative editing styles that we could incorporate in some of our programming, and just recently I pitched an original concept for one of the shows we work on, and my producers liked it and told me to make it happen,” she says. This is great advice for all journalists but especially those trying to make a name for themselves at an internship.

8. ‰”Take the time to explore and shadow the roles and departments outside of the ones assigned to you.”- Aggy Kereere, Creative Marketing/Production Intern, CNN, Atlanta, GA

Aggy Kereere says not to miss out on opportunities outside of your own role. Many interns work at large organizations with all kinds of learning opportunities. She says to be sure and take the time to learn as much as you can. ‰”If you don’t end your summer internship knowing how Standards & Practices works together with the social media team, or how a topic goes from a seed to a full-fledged story”_.you’ll have done yourself a great disservice.”

9. ‰”Sometimes you have to dive in, and not just figuratively.”- Lacy Roberts, The California Report, KQED, San Francisco, CA

Lacy Roberts’ story of taking the plunge highlights how much you can get out of an internship if you are willing to take chances and try new things. She says, ‰”I pitched a story about a swimming hole in Marin where you jump off these tall rocks into deep pools. They sent me out with a recorder, and I got some great tape, but it just didn’t seem right unless I jumped myself. The piece ends with me taking the plunge, and it ended up getting a bunch of love from listeners around the state!’ Listen to Roberts’ story here.

By Matt Beagle (’17)