Over 2,500 Illinois State University School of Communication (SoC) students have completed more than 4,000 internships since 2008.
Internships have become a major part of the SoC’s curriculum here at ISU. Since the start of the program in the 1970s, students have participated in internship opportunities. Today, ISU’s SoC has an extensive network of connections around the Bloomington-Normal area and beyond, allowing students internship opportunities with a variety of businesses.
Professor Larry Long, during his term as the School’s director, began to expand the undergraduate internship program and its value to SoC students. The idea was—and still is—to view any internship as a “Classroom of One.” With real-world learning at its core, internships were—and are—learning environments of their own, with the supervisors being the professors.
Many ISU professors encourage students to do internships, and professors may use their own networks to help students find internships. ISU professors see the value in having professional experience. Multiple persons in the faculty are more than willing to help students, including Laura Trendle Polus, Bob Carroll and Steve Suess, who continue to keep up major media connections to offer internships for journalism and mass media students.
Thomas Lamonica, instructional assistant professor and the School’s director of field experiences and internships, helps undergraduate students find an internship. Even though multiple students come to Lamonica’s office searching for internship opportunities most of the time students are proactive about finding their own opportunities.
Lamonica said that he has multiple professionals in the area contacting him after they have had an ISU SoC intern. “I have had professional supervisors of interns tell me that ISU students are better prepared and have a better work ethic than those from any other school they work with. I believe that’s a tribute to our students and our faculty. SoC students know what to do and how to do it,” said Lamonica.
The students at ISU see the value in having the professional experience that comes from obtaining an internship. They put their best foot forward, which creates a level of excellence. “Most of our internship network is the result of SoC students performing exceptionally well during their internship and impressing their supervisors,’ Lamonica explained. “Some of whom tell their friends and professional colleagues about our students and our program, which grows that network.”
Lamonica attributes other great success in the program to the development of our alumni network. With Lamonica spending 39 years on ISU campus in athletics communication, he has worked with countless students who have participated in the “Classroom of One” experience, and then turn around and want SoC students as interns once they have entered the workforce and are in a place to hire interns. Alumni such as Samantha Schultz of Palace Events, Christy Germanis of YWCA of Mclean County, and Jessica Vicini of Cardinal Management are examples of alumni who have graduated and then given back to the program by hiring current SoC students.
With now 80 percent of all graduating communication majors having had at least one internship for credit, it’s becoming more and more clear that internships are of value. “We realize when hiring students from ISU we are already obtaining an employee who has a degree from a highly reputable program, but when they show us that they have expanded their skill sets with an internship it become even more clear as to why we should hire them,” said John Hurlim, marketing manager at State Farm.
Internships don’t only benefit undergraduate students at the SoC. Graduate students also may earn credit for their professional development. A SoC graduate faculty member, who agrees to do so, oversees graduate students’ internships for students enrolling in the graduate-level internship course.
“I had multiple internships as an undergrad here at ISU,” said Becca Broman, an ISU alumna and current communication graduate student. “From working as a marketing intern at The Vidette, to working at an attorney’s office, and even working on a political campaign. Those internships have prepared me for working at Student Housing and attending graduate school.”
Any story ideas or general feedback? Please contact Pete Smudde at email@example.com.