City Hall reporter Maggie Creamer shares how not to get
yelled at as an intern:
As a bright-eyed intern, I started at the Omaha World-Herald and
The Bakersfield Californian thinking I was ready for what ever came
But I realized that I had to really sharpen my skills to cover a
house fire where three children died, a school board member
punching and kicking a 21-year-old at a Prop. 8 rally and a
shooting where I had to drive along a winding road with 300-foot
drop offs at night.
When you get an internship, be prepared to hit the ground
running. You are expected to work and produce at the same level as
a full-time staff member.
That means juggling multiple tasks and assignments in an
environment where everyone has a couple years on you. You will make
mistakes, and you have to recover from them as best as you
In Omaha, I made one of those rookie mistakes that was
embarrassing and avoidable and still makes me shudder today.
In one of my first assignments about a Peace Corps volunteer who
joined when she was 60 years old, I wrote down the wrong first name
on the photo assignment and incorrectly spelled the last name. One
of the veteran photographers who had worked for years and traveled
to Iraq called me yelling because he called this woman by the wrong
This could have been avoided if I had just taken a deep breath
and double-checked the assignment instead of being so eager to get
out there and start working. You will be in a quick moving
environment and will need to be organized, prepared and focused to
keep up with the pace.
Here are some tips of how to survive your first few
Ask for help: People really like talking about
how important their job is, especially to people who are
interested. Ask questions. Ask them to tell you stories that will
inevitably give you ideas or new skills. Ask for help when you
don’t know how to handle a situation.
Stay focused on work: Realize that even if your
internship is for class credit, everyone is watching you. Even if
other people in you office make personal calls, keep your phone on
silent. Even if everyone else takes two hour lunches, only take an
hour. You are there to show off your skills and get glowing
references. That saying that you should be the first one to arrive
and the last one to leave are words to live by.
Brush up on your skills before and during: When
I started my internship, I hadn’t cracked open an AP Style book
open in a while — basically our grammar and spelling Bible. After
the copy desk pointed out a couple of stupid mistakes, I decided to
News-Sentinel's Haley Pitto offers tips for Landing an
Research: There are numerous internet sites
that give out information on internships. In fact many people
probably do not know, but the site www.collegeboard.com, the same
site high school college students use to sign up for SAT testing,
has hundreds of specialized internships.
Don’t get discouraged: Just because you can’t
find an internship right away doesn’t mean there isn’t one out
there. Try asking counselors, companies, and teachers about
possible internship opportunities.
Prove yourself: You have to show you are
serious about wanting the internship. Keep asking if there are any
possible openings in a company for one.
Be assertive (not aggressive): Do not take “no”
for answer because this answer may change over time. However, you
don’t want to seem pushy, so check in periodically to see what has
Get involved: Are you doing projects or taking
classes related to what kind of internship you want? If not, start
now. It’s always best to have some prior experience before getting
in over your head.
Dress the part: When you have finally landed a
potential internship you don’t want to blow it by something as
silly as the way you are dressed. If it is a large or professional
company you want to dress in office attire. Also try not to wear
perfume or cologne when interviewing for the part. I have found
many people are allergic or bothered by it.
From the guy who does the hiring, Editor Rich
Advice to interns: Above all else, a great
attitude. Start early. Stay late. When assigned a task, get on it.
Not later. Now. When you are done, ask for more. Don’t be choosy
about assignments. Don’t dawdle on Facebook. Seek feedback. Nicely
but relentlessly. Ask, “how am I doing? How can I get better?”
Listen. Soak up stuff. Don’t act like you know much. You probably
don’t. Show purpose. Learn, work, impress. When the internship is
finished, write notes of thanks to everyone who helped — or at
least tolerated — you.