BETHANY, W.Va. — Experience breeds skill. That’s what 12 Bethany College communications majors are learning through their summer internships in print, social media, radio, television and public relations.
Department of Communications and Media Arts Chair and Director of Internships M. E. Yancosek Gamble said, “Learning about your field, applying critical thinking skills from the classroom and gaining valuable work experience are just three reasons why we require our students to have at least one internship.”
“An internship crystallizes the classroom experiences and practical skill sets and allows students to be amazed both by what they do know and what they don’t,” said Gamble.
The 12 students represent approximately 20 percent of Bethany’s currently enrolled communications majors. A requirement for graduation from the department, the internships act as a rite of passage for students ready to apply the abilities they have developed in the classroom to real-world situations. And, while they give students exposure to a broader collection of media experiences than they have had in the past, the internships also give soon-to-be graduates the opportunity to focus their interests and finalize their immediate career goals.
Senior James Reeves, now in his third internship, said his time with the Washington Wild Things, a minor league baseball team based out of Washington, Pa., has provided invaluable preparation for after graduation when heading out into the world.
“The internships I’ve had during my time at Bethany have given me the experience that employers are looking for right out of school,” said Reeves. He continued, “I didn’t sit around watching people just show me how things work. I was told what is needed and was expected to produce that in a timely manner.”
Reeves said “doing instead of observing” is what made the biggest difference and offered him the most opportunity heading into a competitive workforce. “I had so much creative freedom … I have learned techniques in video production along with software such as the Adobe Creative Suite including Photoshop and Adobe Premiere, as well as Final Cut Pro.”
Communications internships must include 160 hours of work. Students are required to complete three on-campus media experiences in different areas before engaging in their formal, off-campus internship. Throughout their college career, students also hear from a wide variety of prominent media professionals in class and through visits to cities like New York, Washington D.C. and Chicago as part of their coursework.
“Class has helped me, but the skills I’ve developed at the Bethany Broadcasting Network during their web-streaming events has given me an edge” said Anthony Sparks, who is currently completing his first outside internships at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, Pa.
Sparks also serves as the color-commentator for BBN during football and soccer games, and the confidence his experience has brought even encouraged a move towards something new: calling a lacrosse game last year. He said, “I’m not afraid to volunteer for new things.”
Kyle Niland, a senior who is interning with Vox Mobile out of Independence, Ohio, said the company serves large companies mobility needs through cloud computing, custom applications, mobile device managers and more.
“It’s a small start-up company that has been around for seven years and they are partnered with some of the largest mobility software vendors. I’m working with marketing/sales, so I have been managing their social media and organizing and obtaining leads. They let me sit in on calls to current and potential customers. They have me involved in a little bit of everything and that keeps me on my toes,” said Niland.
Rising senior Rachel Samlall spent her summer interning for Booz, Allen, Hamilton as a member of the strategic communications team. She supports the Veterans Health Administration where she is currently part of a team developing a guide titled “Health Communications Best Practices: Benchmark Study and Recommendations.”
“In the short two months I have been interning with the firm, I have learned many valuable skills I didn’t have before this summer. I think one of the most important things I have learned is how to be my own problem solver. I don’t have a lot of one-on-one time with my supervisor and often I don’t receive detailed descriptions of how he/she wants the task to be completed. It was hard for me at first when I didn’t receive instructions on how I should complete the task at hand, but I quickly learned how to do research on my own and figure out how the job should be done,” said Samlall.
WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh provided summer experience for rising senior Hailey Astorina, where she has only furthered her passion for broadcast television. She said the experience built through her time at Bethany College has better prepared her for the real world, something she found herself often fearing.
“At WTAE-TV, they offered me experience in my field of interest by giving me hands-on opportunities to interview big names like Charlie Batch, Issac Redman and many others to gain practice and confidence from every angle,” said Astorina. “The real world is a scary thought … This summer is one that has really put everything into perspective for me. Never did I think this image of the real world would so rapidly sneak up on me, but this summer it did.”
Astorina said Bethany prepared her for her internship in “an uncountable amount of ways.” “From the five star communications and media arts staff being there every step of the way, to their strategic ways of enforcing hands-on learning experiences.”
After completing their 160 internship hours, students share their experiences at an internship fair organized by the Department of Communications and Media Arts the following academic year.
Summer 2012 Internships, Department of Communications and Media Arts (Class years are for 2012-13):
Eric McCarthy, senior: Lancaster Barnstormers, Lancaster, Pa.
James Manthey, senior:ABC-7, Washington, D.C.
Joshua “Skip” Smith, junior: Town of Bethany, W.Va.
Rachel Samlall, senior: Booz, Allen, Hamilton, McLean, Va.
Hailey Astorina, senior: WTAE-TV, Pittsburgh, Pa.
James Peterson, sophomore: RXP 103.9, Colorado Spring, Colo.
James Reeves, senior: Washington Wild Things, Washington, Pa.
Shannon Marks, junior: Bechtel, Frederick, Md.
Kelvin Thomas, junior: United Health Center, Clarksburg, W.Va.
Colleen McNurlen, senior: WJPA-FM, Washington, Pa.
Anthony Sparks, junior: Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, Farmington, Pa.
Kyle Niland, senior: Vox Mobile, Independence, Ohio.
Bethany College is a small college of national distinction located on a picturesque and historic 1,300-acre campus in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia. Founded in 1840, Bethany is the state’s oldest private college.