West Virginia University Reed College of Media students are gaining valuable, hands-on experience reporting, producing podcasts and creating marketing and promotional materials from home this summer, thanks to a new partnership with local businesses and generous sponsorships from College alumni and friends.
The Coronavirus pandemic forced many companies to rescind in-person summer internship opportunities for College of Media students. In response, the College was able to offer a limited number of virtual internships to returning seniors.
“Internships are such a vital part of both student learning and preparation for careers after college,” Dean Diana Martinelli said. “For our upcoming seniors, this could be the last opportunity they have to gain that invaluable professional work experience before they graduate. We’re grateful for our loyal alumni and friends who care deeply about supporting students, especially during these times of special need.”
The Remote Summer Internship program is being facilitated by Eric Minor, director of student careers and opportunities for the College. Students went through an application process that required resumes and cover letters. Minor reached out to regional employers who have hosted meaningful College of Media internships in the past to arrange telephone and video chat interviews between the supervisors and students. Six seniors were then selected and placed with a participating community business that aligned with their future career goals.
Each student will be awarded a $2000 stipend for their work throughout the summer, funded by student enhancement accounts established by John (BSJ, 1978) and Cindy Walls, Betsy Klebe Dziedzic (BSJ, 1979) and Doug and Scott (BSJ, 1975) Widmeyer.
“Cindy and I recognize that today’s environment is challenging for students,” said John Walls. “The University is doing a terrific job of adapting and we want to support opportunities that will allow students to grow and develop professionally, especially during these trying circumstances.”
Maura Flynn of Cleveland, Ohio, is working with the podcast Cross Currents, NPR Nantucket, Massachusetts; Kayla Gagnon of Kennerdell, Pennsylvania, with WBOY-TV in Clarksburg; and the others for Morgantown-based companies: Yadara Luckett of Martinsburg, West Virginia, with Impakt Results marketing agency; Skyler Fleischer of West Orange, New Jersey, for Mon Health marketing and development; Devyn Osborne of Lincroft, New Jersey, with WVU School of Medicine communications; and Harley Benda of St. Clairsville, Ohio, with the Dominion Post.
Benda, like many students, was furloughed from her part time job and her spring internship was cut short due to the pandemic. As part of her virtual internship with the Dominion Post, she helps with the podcast, supports the digital team and writes for the newspaper.
“I’m excited about the hands-on experience I’m gaining,” Benda said. “I love writing, I love telling stories and I love video editing. I’m also learning to be flexible as things change with the current pandemic, and I think it could really be helpful for the future in learning how to adapt to different situations.”
Students are working an average of 20 hours a week for 10 weeks on assigned projects, and Minor conducts regular check-in meetings with both students and internship supervisors.
“These companies, organizations and our supporters have always been great experiential learning partners for our students, so I was not at all surprised that they were willing to continue that relationship during this complicated time,” said Minor. “It wasn’t an easy process to rapidly adjust to having online interns, but everyone we’re working with has been so enthusiastic and flexible. That’s directly translating to valuable and rewarding experience for our developing media professionals.”
For more information on ways to directly support College of Media students, particularly during this challenging time, contact Joshua Walters, director of development at firstname.lastname@example.org 304-293-6775.