I’ve been sparse this summer because of a tough no blogging policy at my press internship with Sen. Bill Nelson’s (D-Fla.) office. But now that it’s over and I’m back in school for my final semester, I’m ready to chat about the lessons I learned.
Having a non-journalism internship was a new experience for me. I realize it might seem strange that a student so dedicated to journalism would take a government relations internship, but these past few months, I’ve been watching all my friends graduate … and not find jobs.
There are a select few who found internships or jobs at small newspapers, but many of them have gone to law school, grad school, PR firms or back home to their parents because they can’t find anything. When I got rejected from 24 internships, I realized I needed to explore the other options that are available to someone with a journalism degree.
It was definitely not as bad as I was afraid it would be. The press shop I worked in consisted of four full-time staffers, and to my surprise, they all loved journalism. They pored over newspapers every morning, joked with reporters on the phone and lamented the state of the journalism industry. They didn’t try to avoid questions and they weren’t slimy people. Yeah, they were obviously trying to promote the senator, but they weren’t evil.
I learned a lot of valuable lessons about government relations, mainly to be straightforward with reporters and to “make news, don’t fake news.” They were comforting lessons that made me realize that there are PR professionals who love and respect journalism as much as those working in the industry.
It reminded me of something my old professor Richard Benedetto once said about being a political reporter, “To be a political reporter, you must love politicians.” Well, from what I could tell, to work in government relations, it seems you must love political reporters.
So where do I go from here? Well, this semester I have internship with the city of Gainesville’s press office, overseeing their social networking and Web presence and doing a little bit of video work. These two internships haven’t deterred me in the slightest from pursuing my dream to be a reporter, but if for some reason I couldn’t reach that goal, I know I’ll be OK.
And as for where I’m headed after graduation, I’ve enthusiastically accepted a six- to nine-month internship with the Las Vegas Sun. I’m considering this my big break and at this point, I’m pretty much counting down the days until I can head West. Great things lie ahead, and I can’t wait to live it up.