Learning how to blog can help students with media-related internships

The value of setting up and maintaining a blog was repeated by many of those who wrote comments to my post on “8 tips to help recent college graduates (and others, too) find a job.”

The value of blogging for college students planning a career in the media made me decide to make blogging one of the media writing styles students would try out in Writing for Mass Communication, a required writing course I teach for journalism, public relations and advertising students. Blogging joined other media writing assignments, including writing news stories and news releases. I started the blogging assignment in January 2008 and continue to learn about blogging myself.

One of the students in the course last spring, Claire Miller, came to the course with quite a bit of public relations experience, and, this past summer, she had a choice of several internships. When she told me that her internship in Washington, D.C., included blogging, I asked her to share her experience with me for my blog.

Here’s the post from Claire:

Writing for Mass Communication, or MMC 2100, is a useful resource for students. Regardless if one is studying communications, learning how to effectively tell a story will assist individuals down the road.  A few months ago, I sat in the communications class, taught by Professor Julie Dodd, and learned how to blog, take action pictures, compile an advertisement,  write news and feature stories and professionally master AP style. The class gave me the tools and drive needed to publish my work in media outlets as well as gave me a solid foundation which I was able to build upon shortly after.

Claire Miller at her internship at the Republican Jewish Coalition with her supervisor, Noah Silverman, the Congressional Affairs Director. Blogging was an important part of Miller's internship duties.

I think the most useful resource I learned was the steps needed to blog.  Many organizations and companies look to individuals that have published work as a sign that they are experienced.  I learned how to use Tumblr to create a blog and write posts and found myself just three months later interning at a political think-tank in Washington, D.C., utilizing those same skills that I learned in Professor Dodd’s class.

This summer, I was a Congressional Intern at the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC). I went to U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs committee meetings and compiled briefs about sessions, which were later edited and posted online on the RJC website. I learned the meaning of a deadline and how to quickly and effectively write an objective or opinionated article.

For example, one story I wrote was about U.S. foreign policy in Yemen. Before going to Senate hearing, I did research about the Al-Qaeda presence in the Arabian Peninsula (AQ-AP) and reviewed the changing human territory and landscape.

Going to the hearing, I would take my laptop and a notepad to jot down notes and good quotes that I could use later. Then, I would get back to work, already with an angle for my story in mind, and complete a blog post in less than an hour. Before I gave it to my supervisor, I would triple check for spelling mistakes, proper capitalization and abbreviations of words I wanted to use and, of course, made sure that the piece had a good flow to it and was informative.

The news stories and blog posts that I wrote in MMC 2100 were compiled the same way. Not only did I write about similar topics, but the training I was able to acquire in my weekly writing lab prepared me for a real world 9-5 job that had real accountability and not a 50-point deduction on one’s assignment grade (which is the point deduction for a fact error made on a MMC 2100 writing assignment).

So, I guess my advice to the new MMC 2100 class is as follows: You never know when you might learn something useful. See your lecture classes as a foundation for internships or other classes down the road.  Or, think of it in football terms. Individuals and teams that go on to win national championships first had to learn how to throw the ball.

Thanks again, Professor Dodd.

Thanks to Claire for sharing her story and for encouraging future students to take on learning opportunities, even if they might not see how those opportunities might apply to them.

I’d be interested in hearing from you. If you’re a teacher, have you included blogging in your teaching? If you’re a blogger, did you take a class that helped you start blogging?

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