Scott Stanford: Internships vital part of journalism

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— I am a firm believer in college, but college alone isn't always enough to get you into the workplace.

That's a message I preach time and again at job fairs. There is no college degree and no grade point average that can make up for practical experience.

Most of the new hires in our newsroom are recent college graduates. For most, this is their first full-time newspaper job. But most also have had one or more internships at daily newspapers. Some examples:

City Editor Brent Boyer interned at the Colorado Daily, the Boulder Daily Camera and the Denver Post. News Editor Meg Wortman spent several months at the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal-Star. Reporter Mike Lawrence interned at the Rocky Mountain News. Copy Editor Jayme Elrod and Online Content Editor Laura Meerkatz were Dow Jones interns who did copy editing internships at the New Bedford (Mass.) Standard-Times.

Melinda Mawdsley spent a summer at The Sporting News. Luke Graham interned in Craig, Boulder and Longmont. Dave Shively worked for Paddler Magazine. And Alexis DeLaCruz interned at the St. Cloud (Minn.) Times.

All will tell you that the time they spent at these professional newspapers and magazines was as valuable as any college class.

We have been fortunate to have several successful interns come through our building. The Colorado Press Association helps place college and high school interns at newspapers throughout the state. All of the interns are compensated.

Our CPA interns this summer - Nicole Miller and Jake Flax - were nothing short of outstanding. Miller, who will graduate in December from the University of Colorado at Boulder, worked on our copy desk. Flax, who graduated from Steamboat Springs High School in May and will attend Colorado State University in the fall, worked as a sports reporter.

Our interns get immersed in journalism. We have high expectations and don't coddle them. Miller found that out during her 10 weeks on the copy desk. When we hired two new copy editors last month, she became one of the most experienced members on our six-person desk. There wasn't a page of our newspaper she didn't get a chance to design, and on the last day of her internship, she got to fly solo on a 40-page Steamboat Today. In short, she was terrific.

Flax became involved with the newspaper last spring when he wrote an article for the newspaper as part of his Senior Odyssey project. We were impressed with his sports writing and encouraged him to do the CPA's high school internship. Flax wrote about a variety of topics for us, from a classic car show to blood drives. In between he wrote about lacrosse, Triple Crown, swimming and golf. He showed great promise for someone so young, and if he stays with journalism, he'll do well.

Newspaper internships give college and high school students invaluable experience. For many, it also provides them with the first bylines of their career. They may not realize it, but those clips could be the key to their first real newspaper jobs.

I hope Nicole and Jake enjoy-ed their time at the Steamboat Pilot & Today as much as we enjoyed having them.

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