Journalism students report on internships

Almost 50 students gained experience in journalism, marketing, advertising and public relations all over the country this summer.

Alexandra Cline

From radio shows to oil markets, Washington and Lee Journalism Department majors pursued a variety of summer internships to hone their interest in the field.

An internship is required for students majoring in journalism, business journalism or strategic com- munication major. The students may choose an organization at which to work, with options ranging from newspaper publications to broadcast news to advertising.

“Nearly 50 students held journalism or strategic communication internships this summer, all over the world,” Pam Luecke, head of the department of journalism and mass communications, said. “Each stu- dent writes a paper about the experience and makes a presentation to the professors and other students.”

For Maria Rachal, ‘18, an internship at The Hill in Washington, D.C. allowed her to delve further not only in her journalism studies, but also in her second major of politics.

“I did a lot of cold calling this summer,” Rachal said. “I was tasked with finding out who donated to which campaign and calling a lot of very wealthy people in this country.”

One of the most valuable lessons she learned relates to pitching original story ideas, which enabled her to write more published pieces and spend less time researching.

With a tip she received, Rachal fleshed out an exclusive story about a businessman offering $1 million to charity if presidential candidate Donald Trump released his tax returns.

“In many cases, W&L students are given considerable responsibility during their internships because they are willing to make suggestions and take initiative,” Luecke said.

Haylee Rademann, ‘17, spent some time working in the communications field—not in political news but in radio, working for Entercom Sacramento on a morning talk show.

Though the early mornings of radio were a challenge, Rademann believes she learned a great deal about radio programming and producing directly through the show’s hosts, people she admired much of her life.

“To me they were basically like celebrities,” Rademann said. “I’ve listened to them for so long that it was amazing to be able to see and talk to them.”

Through her internship, she had the opportunity to participate in events sponsored by the station, including singer meet and greets, state fairs and concerts.

Rademann attributes much of her success in the industry to W&L’s journalism department and her

classes, including Introduction to Reporting, Introduction to Digital Journalism and Principles of Public Relations.

“It’s always rewarding to see how students have taken lessons from the classroom and applied them to the workplace,” Luecke said. “But it’s also helpful to hear what new skills are in demand.”

Rachel Baker, ‘17, used her internship to explore an area traditionally removed from journalism departments—marketing.

Copywriting and updating websites for The Agency Marketing Group, Baker combined her interests in English and Journalism to find particular usefulness in her work.

“I’m also an English major, so having other people ask me about grammar and corrections made me feel important and like I was actually useful to others there,” Baker said.

While assisting fellow employees was one of her roles, Baker also produced original content, such as writing product descriptions for a designer stroller company.

“It was a great way to blend my interests,” Baker said. “I thought my previous journalism classes were really helpful, and I felt prepared to help out.”