How I Landed a Journalism Internship as a Freshman

Trying to find a journalism internship as a freshman is like trying to find a quiet place to study during exam week; It seems impossible. Let’s be honest – scoring that fairytale New York City magazine internship will most likely not happen until your junior or senior year, but don’t fear because you can still find one even as a first-year student! The key is to search locally.

This past summer, I was fortunate to intern at a local women’s magazine in my hometown. Although the tasks were minuscule, and I worked mainly from home, I learned a lot about myself and my career path. When I was searching frantically to do something to occupy my time at home, I almost entirely ruled out getting an internship because I thought the odds of anyone giving a rising sophomore the opportunity were extremely low.

After spending days applying for jobs that had no interest to me and served a mere purpose of supporting myself financially, I decided to go out on a whim and submit my resume and clips to a few publications in the area. I remember the rush of adrenaline and how incredibly overjoyed I was when I opened my inbox to see that I was offered my first internship! If you’re a freshman looking for an internship, I was in your shoes last year. Here are a few pieces of advice to help you obtain one and be successful in it.

1. Contact local newspapers and magazines

Many small-scale publications still need all of the help they can get to keep producing quality content. Usually, they will have contact email addresses or phone numbers towards the beginning of the magazine, or it will be posted on their website; Just check it frequently! Even though they may be unpaid, it is important to begin getting some experience as early as possible, so you can start building your resume.

2. Perfect your time management skills

College can most accurately be described as four years of procrastination, but when you get into the real world, time management is the key to success. The month before my internship, I began crafting out a schedule, so I would be able to keep up with deadlines. It is also essential to find an organizational tool that you will avidly use. I recommend using a planner because it helps you with familiarization of upcoming tasks.

3. Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this word, but it is engrained in my brain. These little due dates can make or break your internship, so it is crucial to stay on top of them. Make alarms on your phone, have your friends text you reminders, write them down and do anything you can so you don't miss them. I had one instance during my internship where a shop owner was not responding to my phone calls for an interview, and I had to turn in one article late. Luckily, my editor was lenient and realized it was not my fault, but I learned that next time I’ll schedule interviews early to avoid that again.

4. Ask for help

This is a learning experience for you, so don’t be afraid if you have a question or need clarification of something. Your editor is basically your mentor, and they want you to be successful in your internship, too! Meet with them on a regular basis and get to know them and the publication you’re working for. I found it helpful to learn more about who I’m writing for, so I could develop a writing style that fit the magazine as a whole.

5. Don’t stress, and have fun

Internships are a great way to meet new people and get your name out there. You need to be aware of the deadlines, but do not stress too much over them and have fun with your writing. I learned so much about my hometown and discovered new spots I would have never been to if I didn’t have my internship. Think of it as an opportunity for more amazing things to happen.

Freshman year can be challenging as you try to navigate your way through your major and career. If you ever have the opportunity to get an internship during your freshman year, I highly recommend going for it. The most determined people usually get the greatest experiences, so go out there and conquer the world!