Editor's Note: Ask Maddy is an advice column published every Wednesday. Anonymous questions are taken from this Google form. Questions are also taken both from The Collegian's Instagram, @thecollegianur, and via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views and opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of The Collegian.
How did you get into doing an internship at the Richmond Times-Dispatch this summer?
This is a great question! It is one that I’m still figuring out myself!
For just a bit of background, I am a journalism and leadership studies major interested in working with print journalism after graduation. The Richmond Times-Dispatch is one of the leading daily newspapers in Virginia, located right in the city’s center. I worked there this past summer for a 10-week, full-time internship.
I realized daily print journalism is actually my dream job. Like all internships, it had its ups and downs — one of the ups was that two of my pieces appeared in The Washington Post, but the downside was a shrinking newsroom.
I won’t delve too much into my work with RTD. Instead, I’d like to share advice that helped me.
1. Finding the internship
The first step to finding an internship is taking into account your own interests. Having a job that you don’t enjoy, both part-time and full-time is absolutely dreadful. Find what makes you excited, what makes you happy — or in my case, things that make you angry — where you can see yourself making a difference.
As much as I hate to admit it, you should also make a LinkedIn account. Besides the cringey (and possibly fraudulent) success stories, I got job alerts regarding positions that I was interested in based on those I had already applied for.
I’d also like to speak about the power of networking. Many of the professors in the journalism department have a direct or indirect connection to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Through those connections, I was able to meet two or three of the reporters at RTD before even applying to their internship program.
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2. Applying for the internship
The first thing you should know about applying to an internship is that you can never be too accommodating. In addition to the online application, it said to email all my materials to the metro editor — I decided to do both just in case.
About two weeks after I applied, I published another story that I was really proud of, so I forwarded it to the metro editor as well. Not only did they give great feedback, but I was putting my name in the back of their mind.
Lastly, I made my cover letter personal. Instead of simply saying why I should have the job, I talked about my first dive into journalism: my high school’s yearbook class. I discussed what it was like to tell others’ stories, and gradually went into why that had helped me become the person I was today.
In each interview I’ve done, at least one of the interviewers always laughs at how I recounted my yearbook days in my cover letter. Don’t be afraid to try something different!
3. Interviewing for the internship
I always try to view interviews as conversations. These are professionals that just want to speak with another potential professional. Whenever I make sure to view the interview as a regular conversation, it becomes much less pressing.
In the end, they are literally just people.
Be sure to ask questions at the end of the interview as well. There are generic ones, like when the internship will be starting and how long it will take for a callback. There should also be questions specific to the company as well — as someone interviewing for jobs in journalism, it would be ridiculous not to ask about article requirements, travel expectations and things of that nature.
These are just a few of the ways I secured my internship with the Richmond Times-Dispatch. While I hope that these are helpful, I know there are plenty of other pieces of information I may have missed in this brief guide. Be sure to contact Alumni and Career Services for more information.
P.S. Here’s a bonus!
What foods get the highest crowds at D-Hall? And what days?
I’m glad you asked because I think we’re all tired of waiting in long lines to get into the Heilman Dining Center for sub-par food.
Here are the do’s and don’ts of D-hall:
DO go to Mongolian Grill and Quesadilla bar at Hemispheres.
DON’T go to either of those on Monday for dinner. The line is ridiculous.
DO go to the omelet line and (my favorite) egg line.
DON’T try to go to either of those on the weekends during brunch. I’d also avoid them if the football team just got out of practice.
DO go to panini station, pasta station, salad station and (sometimes) the pizza station.
DON’T go to nut bar if you have an allergy. Please be serious.
DO go to dessert bar! The cupcakes with the bacon are amazing!
DON’T get the ice cream. The scoop sitting in the lukewarm cloudy water freaks me out.
DO sit with me if you get the chance!
Contact copy chief Madyson Fitzgerald at madyson.fitzgerald.richmond.edu.
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