Along with your resume, your internship application should include a cover letter. Cover letters help us learn a little bit about you, and what you hope to get out of an internship. It also gives us a sample of your writing style. Cover letters can be hard to write, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience. So here are a few elements that should go into them:
- Your cover letter should be a purpose statement. Tell us why you want to pursue a career in journalism and media. How did you get started on that path?
- Why are you drawn to the internship you applied for?
- Tell us how this opportunity will help you reach your career goals.
- Tell us specifically what type of skills you want to learn or strengthen during with an internship with us.
- What unique experiences, skills and perspectives would you bring to the internship?
Other things we are looking for
- If you have prior journalism or media experience, like in student media or previous internships, include links to your work in your cover letter. Especially if you are applying for one of our reporting internships. We want to see your writing samples.
- Newscast candidates should also talk about what beats or topics they are interested in covering as a reporter and why.
- Podcast candidates should include links that can give us an idea of audio projects you have worked on.
- Write in a human voice. A lot of the writing we do is “for the ear” and being overly formal or academicly does not help us gauge your writing potential.
We read through all applications and sometimes we get hundreds of applications for one internship. Depending on the number of applications we receive, it can take up to a couple of weeks after the deadline to read the applications and select select a group of candidates for interviews. We get to that final group by eliminating applications that don’t have a cover letter or who don't seem like a good fit for the internship. If you were not selected for an interview, you will receive notification via email.
If you are selected for an interview, you will be contacted by our HR department to arrange a time to come to our studios at Navy Pier (or Skype) to interview with the selection committee. Interviews are usually group settings, and you can expect to interview with a group of about 2-5 people.
When you are contacted for an interview, the person scheduling your interview will send you links to content relevant to the internship (SoundCloud links to our locally produced shows, podcasts or news stories). In the interview, we will ask for your feedback about our programming. You should be prepared to pitch a story idea or two.
We will then ask for letters of reference or contact your references directly.
If you were not selected for an internship after the interview stage, we will follow up with you.
Why outlining this process is important to us
Through our internship program, we want to introduce public media to aspiring journalists and media professionals who want to engage and inform their communities.
We also recognize there are bright and talented aspiring interns who may not have had the same access to coaching and support in order to apply competitive internships in major media markets like Chicago.
We hope by being more transparent about our process, it will help level the field and take out the mystery about what happens after you click on that submit button.
You can apply for an internship on our careers page (during application seasons), where you can upload your resume, cover letter and apply for one or more internships.
If you are applying for multiple internships, you should write a cover letter specific to each one you are applying for. Our application system will allow you to upload multiple cover letters as attachments. Keep in mind, if you do apply for multiple internships, you will most likely be interviewed for just one.