Internships and professional development have become part of the culture within the School of Communication, and Tom Lamonica is one of the many individuals to thank for that.
Lamonica is a recognized name in the School of Communication, especially among public relations students for his teaching and mentoring style that serves our student population by encouraging them to reach beyond their present abilities. Lamonica’s personal mission statement is “to inspire and motivate, supporting students to reach higher and do more for themselves as part of their career.”
Last November, Lamonica marked 5,000 internships in his then-14 years as director of professional experiences. Internships in the School of Communication are not required, yet the School of Communication has more than twice as many students doing professional practice activities than other programs on campus that require professional experiences.
“More than 70 percent of our graduating seniors over the past 10 years have had at least one internship for credit, and almost half of them have had at least two,” Lamonica said.
“Lamonica has provided guidance and mentorship for generations of Illinois State students, changing the trajectory of their lives and careers. His commitment to tirelessly representing our university while standing beside each and every student is an inspiration to all of us,” said Jay Blunk ’86, a School of Communication alumnus.
Lamonica says School of Communication internships are readily available year-round. The important thing is finding an experience that students want and enjoy. “Students think they’re being helpful when they say, ‘I will do whatever you recommend,’ but they’re not,” Lamonica explained. “It is like getting a job—you would not let a teacher pick your job for you. Internships are value-added education, plus they give you networking opportunities and help you build your portfolio.”
Kaitlyn Sullivan is a School of Communication graduate student working for Lamonica.
“For me, working with Tom as a graduate teaching assistant with a goal of entering academia has been very transformative. Tom has shown me how sometimes supporting a student’s goals is more important than the grades that they may receive in classes,” Sullivan said. “Tom has given me insight into helping guide students onto the right paths for them while also hanging on for the ride while they figure it out themselves. I’m really going to miss him as well as all the awesome communication department interns that I’ve had the opportunity to work with during my time at ISU.”
Lamonica’s best-loved part of the job is what he is doing right now, which is interacting with the students one-on-one, talking with them about what they want to talk about, and helping them with their careers.
Lamonica favors visiting the summer interns at their various locations, the past two summers Lamonica even kept this tradition of summer internship visits going via Zoom due to the pandemic. Typically, Lamonica would go to each internship location and spend about an hour meeting with both the student and the intern supervisor. Summer Internships help strengthen the School of Communication network and make contacts with professionals out in the world. Specifically, summer internships help when looking for COM Week speakers and panelists, and internships help in recruiting students for next year’s COM Week program.
“Internships for credit in the School of Communication are taken in place of a class, in which you are the only student,” said Lamonica. “Your supervisor for your internship, as much as your instructor for a given class, is not just someone who knows something about a particular subject matter. They are doing it every day.
“Internship opportunities are available year-round. If you are a student thinking or talking about internships, then you are ready to do it. Internship readiness happens for some students as freshmen and sophomores, and others come to me saying, ‘I am going to graduate this semester, and I have waited too long.’ It is never too late, and people are ready at varying times.”
For additional internship information about internships in the School of Communication, please reach out to your academic advisor or Tom Lamonica at talamon@IllinoisState.edu.