Full-Time Benefits at Part-Time Internship

View from my office window at USA Today in McLean, VA.

By Dean’s Intern Aly Seidel at USA Today

I spent the summer working the Dean’s Internship at NPR. Five days, forty hours a week. But now, I’ve ditched the 96 and have been taking the Silver Line to my new Dean’s Internship on USA Today’s Investigative Team.

Same amount of excitement, much fewer hours. I come in two days a week. It makes it quite easier to juggle 15 credits when you’re only interning 15 hours, but it can still be difficult to get everything in order.

So, for all of us balancing course loads and intern life, here are some suggestions to get the most out of your intern exprience, even when you’re not there every day.

Be present. 

When you’re only in the office half the time, you have half the time to make good impressions. I’m only in the office for two days a week. It’s a challenge, but I try to talk to as many people and finish as many projects as I possibly can in 15 hours. Being in the building is one of your greatest assets—use it.

Be flexible.

I had the opportunity to sit down for lunch with USA Today’s editor-in-chief Dave Callaway. The only problem? It was on Monday. I don’t work on Mondays. In fact, I have classes on Monday.

Now, I’m not advocating skipping class —  we are students first – but, after chatting with my professor, we both decided that it was an opportunity too good to miss, and I could make up the class in another way. It’s not something I would ask to do again, so pick your events wisely, but be willing to move some dates around so you can get the full benefits, even if you’re part time.

Be patient.

Most of the student journalists I’m around are constantly chasing bylines to add to their portfolio. Don’t get me wrong, it means a lot to be able to say you wrote for The Washington Post, NPR, or any of the other great organizations that you can intern for. But the byline is not the be-all end-all.

In my current position, I’m spending a lot of time supporting reporters: research work, calling up PIOs, finding documents online, sifting through mounds of data. Unless I reach out to other desks, I will probably not walk out of here with a byline. And that isn’t a bad thing. We get so swept up in this “how will it help me after school” mentality that we forget other, very important skillsets that we’re learning. Reporting isn’t just about writing. Sometimes, it’s pulling out that one crucial percentage in a 500+ line excel spreadsheet.