Summer is five months away, but we’re already planning for it here at SPJ and Quill.
The summer months are busy ones for Quill. Our biggest issues of the year – the Sigma Delta Chi Awards issue and the annual freedom of information issue – are both prepared in the summer months, and each one requires a lot of work.
Fortunately, we’re able to recruit some help. Each summer, the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation helps SPJ to sponsor two paid internships for students to research FOI issues and help prepare the magazine. The two Pulliam/Kilgore Internships – named after legendary journalists Eugene C. Pulliam and Bernard “Barney” Kilgore – offer very different and valuable opportunities for students interested in journalism.
The first internship is for undergraduate journalism students who will be gradating in May or entering their senior year in the fall. This intern works with me at SPJ headquarters in Indianapolis, and most of his or her work is directed toward the September FOI issue. This person will report and write about ongoing FOI issues. The intern is usually responsible for one large project and several smaller stories during the course of the summer. Recent projects have included an examination of state laws involving access to prisons and inmates and a report on the availability of various government databases.
The second internship is for law students who have a background in journalism and are interested in media law. This intern works with Baker and Hostetler, SPJ’s First Amendment law firm in Washington, D.C. While this intern may contribute articles to the September issue of Quill, most of the internship is spent on the annual Pulliam/Kilgore Report, a legal analysis of an ongoing FOI issue. An abbreviated version of this report is printed in the September Quill, and a full-length version is distributed to SPJ members at the national convention in the fall and is available online at SPJ’s Web site.
Both of these internships provide important opportunities for the students who are selected. There are, of course, the usual benefits that come with an internship – getting practice in a professional environment, making connections that could lead to future employment, etc.
But the Pulliam/Kilgore internships have additional unique advantages. The undergraduate intern has a chance to generate clips from a national magazine, and it’s a magazine read by professional journalists across the country. (Not a bad audience if you’re planning to begin a full-time job search soon.) The legal intern has a chance to break away from the broad legal training of law school and explore the intricacies of media and First Amendment law. Adding Baker and Hostetler to a legal resume never hurts, either.
But most importantly, both interns have the opportunity to learn more about a career that interests them. Journalism students learn more about the journalism profession – not just from writing and reporting, but also from working for the largest journalism organization in the country. They also learn about working for a magazine, as opposed to a daily newspaper; the writing style and longer deadlines are often something these students haven’t experienced before. The legal intern has a chance to delve into an area of specialty law, and that may help them decide where they’d like to work after law school.
In the last three years, I’ve seen Pulliam/Kilgore interns use their skills to go on to professional careers in journalism. Jonathan Brunt, who interned at the headquarters in 2000, works as a reporter at The Idaho Statesman. Karen Klein, a 2001 PK intern with Baker and Hostetler, now works at the Federal Communications Law Journal. And Amanda Lehmert, who interned for Quill last summer, graduated from Emerson College in December and now has a job with the Cape Cod Times. Not bad, considering the tough economic climate of the past few years.
The deadlines for this summer’s internships are coming up soon; applications need to be postmarked by March 1. That leaves just enough time for all the interested students out there to get their clips pulled together. The specific internship requirements and application form can be found on SPJ’s Web site: http://www.spj.org/internships_pk.asp.
For students who are still looking for summer plans, SPJ’s Pulliam/Kilgore internships are a worthwhile option to consider. We hope to hear from you.
Jeff Mohl is the editor of Quill.