Greenlee fair 2020 (copy)

Letter writer Josh Lamberty believes internships should not be a requirement for graduation.

College internships are great ways to earn work experience. These experiences, however, when mandated as a degree requirement, hurt students’ immediate success.

As a senior studying journalism, my major requires a 400-hour internship. That requirement is met through the JL MC 499A course. While my internship was paid, I wasn’t working full-time. I didn’t make enough money to offset living expenses in southeast Minnesota. I paid fees to the university, like health center and gym memberships, that I never used because I wasn’t in Ames over the summer. I also didn’t receive any scholarships from the university.

I had one of few paid internships in my industry and received great hands-on experience. Many major news publications across the U.S. do not pay interns, which, I imagine, hurts their chance of success.

The Greenlee School touts its internship requirements as some of the strictest in the nation. Internships should not, however, restrict graduation status without providing a level playing field for all students.

I call on Iowa State University to abolish required internships. Instead, a class on preparing for and learning about how internships benefit career trajectories seems appropriate. 

It’s time students take a more active role in defining their education. If students work other jobs to pay bills, why should they be required to work as an unpaid intern and accrue more debt? Internships should tailor the students' goals to their financial means. There’s no one-size-fits-all student. There shouldn’t be a cookie-cutter internship requirement, either.

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(2) comments

Travis Ballstadt

Going through a semester of severe financial hardship will do more to prepare you for a career in journalism than most of the classes you’ve taken.

Students should consider how an industry treats and compensates internships as the best indicator of how they will be treated and compensated throughout their careers.

Kudos to you for choosing a career track that will allow you to inform the public and hold our elected officials accountable, but this may be a wake-up call.

Travis Ballstadt (JLMC ‘94)

Grant Nickles

As the relative of a journalism major who got burnt out within two years of working for a newspaper group, I couldn't agree more. Such an important career path, but it's most definitely not as romanticized as one might think.

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