Ten Ways to Maximize Your Internship Experience

By Kathryn Cambrea

Through reflecting on my internship with WRCR Radio AM 1700, here are some tips to follow to ensure that you make the most of exploring your career. (Learn more about my internship experience here on The Thoma).

(Photo courtesy Kerry Potter): Kathryn Cambrea poses in the WRCR station before co-hosting the “John and Kat Show.”
  • Ask questions.

This tip is absolutely crucial to any field. Evidently, we learn through wonder and curiosity. By interning with the local radio station, I asked staff for feedback on my work, such as my newscasts, as well as for technical information so I could learn how to board-op or operate the sound of a program. Also, since my internship is in the field of journalism, I conducted interviews regularly, either at events that I would later cover in the news or during my radio program. Asking questions allows you to grow and ultimately learn more about your internship as well as the whole world around you.

  • Take initiative.

This is a motto that I always abide by. I had the privilege to co-host a radio program with a STAC alum this summer. The experience required a lot of planning and preparation. I reached out to many of the guests who we had on the show; our guests included a mental health professional, a leader of a local nonprofit organization, a former teacher of mine, a radio host and business owner, a STAC professor who has tremendously served the community, STAC’s new president, an RCC student who created a fund to help his classmates, and more. I also took initiative by suggesting ideas to established radio hosts on the station and executed those ideas by interviewing them over the airwaves. Through such interviews, not only did the listeners and I learn more about the radio hosts, but I gained invaluable experience of being heard on the air.

  • Take risks.

Speak to people who you have never spoken to before. As a journalist, you have to do this a lot to gather information and quotations. If you are offered an incredible opportunity to further your internship experience, do not turn it down. The unfamiliar is daunting, but once you explore it, you may realize just how much better you now are for tackling your nerves. To me, my internship had two components: covering events and helping several facets of the station as well as planning and hosting a program. My internship grew to include the latter, which was new yet ultimately exciting and rewarding. Had I turned down the opportunity of creating content for and hosting a radio program, I would have regretted it. 

  • Establish connections.

Not just on LinkedIn, although that is recommended. Talk to your coworkers and exchange contact information. Most importantly, have a positive impression on your coworkers. They may take the liberty to connect with you and present you with invaluable feedback and opportunities. Also, you do not know who else your coworkers know. If you maximize your internship experience and are a reliable asset to the company or organization, perhaps your work will be recommended to others who could potentially hire you in the future.

  • Base value on experiences, not dollars earned.

Not every internship pays. The idea of an internship being unpaid does not invalidate the work that you do nor the skills that you acquire. For instance, my internship during my senior year of high school was unpaid, and yet, I covered events and had my articles with my byline published in local newspapers. If an internship does pay, that is certainly a benefit, but do not automatically negate opportunities presented to you solely because they do not pay at all or enough. Also, money should not be what motivates you; it should be your own fulfillment that does. 

  • Communicate with your support team.

Tell your family and friends about your internship. Also, tell your advisor, professors, and even your past teachers. I had the privilege to interview my sixth grade and high school journalism teacher on the airwaves. People who love you will root for you, and such support is an incentive to learn and grow. 

  • Learn about the community the company or organization serves.

WRCR is a great source of news for the community of Rockland. And WRCR’s listeners are a loyal family who are just as likely to tune into the afternoon drive as they are to the morning programming. I had the opportunity to meet many of these listeners when answering the phone at the station as well as over the airwaves when they chimed into discussions. Without the audience, there would be no radio. Without the community, the company or organization that serves them would not exist.

  • Continue to learn more about the company or organization you intern for.

I made sure to listen to WRCR even on days that I didn’t report to the station. This allowed me to not only learn about the different programs, but to learn the names of the community members who always tune in. In addition, I would be elated to hear my own voice saying newscasts and advertisements over the air. Covering an event and writing a newscast are integral responsibilities, but hearing your voice say the newscast on the air is very exciting.

  • Value feedback.

When you are given positive feedback at your internship, accept it and remember who gives it to you. This is important because in the future, you may need a letter of recommendation. Also, value constructive criticism. You never walk into an internship knowing everything there is to know about the field; employees of the company or organization understand that you are learning. Use constructive criticism as fuel to improve and gain more skills. 

  • Consult with the Office of Career Development for assistance.

Director of Career Development, Maureen Mulhern, will help guide you in your internship search. After conducting research, I found that I was potentially interested in interning for WRCR, and I communicated this to Ms. Mulhern. She had the email address of a staff member there, so I reached out. And I ended up having a memorable internship experience. Ms. Mulhern not only has multiple connections, but she can help you navigate resources to find your ideal internship, such as LinkedIn and SpartanJobs. 

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