NABJ Student Representative Wilton Jackson spoke with The New York Times Student Journalism Institute (NYTSJI) Director Richard Jones to gain additional advice and insight for students applying the 2017 NYT Student Journalism Institute. The Institute is open to students who are apart of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ).
Jackson: What makes students stand out the most when applying for the NYTSJI?
Jones: Previous internship experience helps students stand out. Students who have a track record of being edited, meeting deadlines and revising stories is valuable preparation. Student media experience is very important when applying for the Institute. Also, leadership in student media speaks to the students’ craft and says a lot about their diligence and respect for the craft. Students who are digitally fluent (video, html, social media, apps, etc.) is really a plus as well.
Another thing for students to consider is not so much what the organization (NYTSJI) can do for you but what they can bring to the organization. It is important to know what skills and abilities from students can bring to the program.
Jackson: What do you look for in cover letters and resumes when students apply for the Institute?
Jones: First, I look to see if all information is expressed clearly and concisely. Secondly, in reference to those students looking to be a reporter for the Institute, I look to see how they describe what they did as a reporter. In doing so, students could maybe discuss a story they wrote that won an award or changed a policy in a community. Small things set you apart from the competition. In terms of the style of the cover letter, I leave it up to the student. Some students write more standard cover letters while other students might have written excellent narrative-style cover letters. I always tell students to do what they feel is most comfortable for them. Thus, students should not feel insecure about doing a standard cover letter as oppose to a narrative cover letter or vice versa.
In regard to resumes, they should be one page. Students should make sure to include technical skills they are familiar with on their resumes. I also would like to see more students indicate their affiliation with NABJ and NAHJ higher up on the resume. Being a part of professional organizations and being involved in them is very important.
Students should also tailor their resume to the opportunity they are applying for. If you are applying for the reporter position, tailor your resume to where it highlights and shows your reporting skills. If you applying for a designer, copy editor, video journalist, still photographer or interactive journalist’s positions, students should make sure to tailor their resumes accordingly.
Jackson: Can students apply to both, the NY Times Student Journalism Institute and NY Times Summer Internship Program?
Jones: Students can apply for both opportunities. They can also apply for as many positions as possible. Students, however, should make sure to customize their cover letter and resume to the opportunity they are applying for.
Jackson: What are some common mistakes you see students make when applying for internships that you hate to see?
Jones: Some of the most common mistakes I see are typos, errors, addressing a cover letter to someone who does not work with the company. It is good for students to know the company they want to intern or work for. Students should make sure to personalize their cover letter.
Students should also apply for opportunities that best fit their abilities. Students should not apply for an opportunity where they do not have any experience with.
Jackson: Does having other work experience or media experience in other platforms help when applying for journalism opportunities such as the NYTSJI?
Jones: If students have additional experience in other platforms such as video, podcasts or graphics, that helps as well. Students having other work experience or other professional skills can help students, especially if they are looking to do a specific reporting or specific media job in the industry. These skills can help students build on their journalism aspirations.
For more information about the 2017 New York Times Student Journalism Institute, go to http://www.nytco.com/careers/student-journalism-institute/. The deadline to apply for the Institute is Nov. 1, 2016.
Wilton Jackson is the current NABJ student representative. Currently, Jackson is earning his Master of Mass Communication (MMC) at Louisiana State University and will graduate in May 2017. To contact him, his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @WiltonReports.