Online system, coaching prepare students for internships
CU Journalism & Mass Communication students are reaping the benefits of a revamped internship and career services program that connects them directly to employers through an easily accessible online database.
Employers worldwide can use the system to post internships and jobs.
“We are reaching out to more media employers than ever, and students are able to connect with them in new ways,” internship and career coordinator Christine Mahoney said. “It’s really a multifaceted approach. It’s not just computer support, it’s personal support. It’s about looking at career goals and skills, and connecting these to jobs posted on the system.” Students can create online profiles with their resumes, a list of skills and job interests, and links to relevant social media, websites or video “resume reels” of their broadcast work
But the new internship program doesn’t rely solely on technology. Mahoney coaches students extensively, learning about their career aspirations and helping them define what they can promote to employers.
“Many times students don’t realize how valuable their existing skills are,” she said. “I try to make sure they understand the value and include it in their resumes. For example, being in a leadership role running social media for a fraternity, sorority or club is valuable experience.”
Mahoney also helps students create an online “personality” to increase their chances of finding a job in a competitive market. “If you write a blog, make sure it’s professional enough to put in your portfolio or mention in your LinkedIn profile, but creative enough so that potential employers get a sense of the ‘real you.’ What are you passionate about? What are you expert in? Share that in a fun, creative way.”
Mahoney also reaches out to employers, encouraging them to offer more and different opportunities for students. For instance, although CU has worked with 7News in Denver for a long time, Mahoney’s discussions with station officials alerted her to a nontraditional bilingual internship at station affiliate Azteca Colorado. It was a perfect match for JMC master’s candidate Griselda San Martin Alonso, who is working there now.
In addition, Mahoney helps students create an online personality that will increase their chances of finding a job in a competitive market. Before an interview, employers will search the web to find out as much info as they can before bringing a person in for a face-to-face meeting, Mahoney said. Employers want to ensure that they’re bringing valuable candidates to the table. But this doesn’t mean just developing a professional Facebook and LinkedIn profile. It means also creating a glimpse of who you are.
Regular evening workshops provide more general training on subjects such as crafting TV standups for a resume reel and – literally – juggling meatballs. To help students prepare for the fall Media Mixer’ with employers, Mahoney cooked up a crockpot of meatballs and armed students with plates, toothpicks and their resumes. “Then we did mock networking, practicing how to approach employers and get your message across while juggling drinks and foods and papers. It was a fun and practical way to make everyone feel comfortable before the mixer.”
JMC senior Audra Streetman is working as an investigative intern for News4 in Denver and will graduate in December. Streetman went to Mahoney for help with her job hunt.
“She’s really helped me market myself and find a job, ideally by the time I graduate. The online system has been really helpful as well with all of the job postings.”
To ensure that students get a genuine educational experience, Mahoney talks to employers about JMC’s internship requirements, which aim to avoid having students exploited for free labor, or asked to handle things such as social media for employers who lack those skills.
Students embraced the new system from the beginning. Mahoney expects more than 100 students will secure spring internships; she also speaks to classes to reach students who haven’t completed internship prerequisites. “We want to plant the seed that now is the time to start looking.”
The Warren Miller Entertainment TV Group has worked with CU since 2005. The company’s manager of program development, Ginger Sheehy, said the online system has made recruiting easier.
“The site was easy to use and found us exactly who we were looking to hire,” she said.
JMC shares its online system with the university’s main Career Services site. That lets JMC students and alumni see all the jobs on the system, but employers have the option of posting exclusively for journalism and advertising students.
JMC alumni can benefit from the new system, too. The database includes postings for a range of professional jobs, from entry-level and part-time employment for recent graduates to mid- and upper-level job postings for alumni/graduates further into their careers.
For more information about the new site, contact Mahoney at Christine.firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow the internship and career services program on Twitter (@JMCInternships), Facebook (CUJMCInternships), and YouTube (www.youtube.com/CUJMCInternships).