@CommInternships: An Aggregator to Inform Students About Available Jobs, Internships

For students interested in internships and entry-level jobs in journalism, media, marketing, PR, and communications, one Twitter account worth checking daily: Comm Internships.  On the @comminternships feed, Steven Chappell, the student media specialist at Iowa’s Simpson College, provides up to 50 updates a day about open positions.  Some of the relevant hashtags: #internship, #entryleveljournalism, and #entrylevelpr.

As a big fan of Chappell’s efforts, I’ve invited him to write periodic guest posts on CMM highlighting media job and internship trends he comes across and discussing the skills employers are evermore looking for in student candidates.

Below is his opening post, a personal introduction and a breakdown of how @comminternships began and has evolved.

By Steven Chappell

In August of 2010, I began a new job as the Student Media Specialist at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. Along with advising the student media, one of my duties is also serving as the internship coordinator for students in Communication and Media Studies at the college. As a social media hound, I knew there had to be a way to use Twitter as an aggregator to inform students about available internships. A few weeks into the semester, @comminternships was born.

The feed was initially intended to promote internships I thought would be of interest to students at Simpson College, since they were my primary concern. Shortly after the feed started, several of my former students at Middle Tennessee State University asked if I could include internships in the Southeast for them as well. By mid-spring of 2011, I had begun following about 25 Twitter feeds that regularly tweet jobs and internships in communications fields, and the feed began to grow.  At the Spring College Media Convention, I mentioned the feed in a session, and within hours, it had expanded from about 50 followers to more than 150 followers.  After a mention of the feed on the College Media Advisers listserv this fall, it quickly grew to more than 500 followers.  At the time of this column, it’s at 601, and adds several new followers each day.  [Ed. note: At last count, 613 followers!]

However, the reach far exceeds just the followers. More than 20 lists have added the feed, and those lists have a combined 1,451 followers. And I have no idea how many people just search the hashtags I use for the feed (details to follow on those), but I regularly receive @ messages from individuals asking if something is wrong if one of those hashtags goes more than a day or two with no use. All told, I estimate the feed has more than 5,000 people who regularly track it in some way, including followers from as far away as Australia.

As the feed has grown, I have kept the focus primarily on entry-level jobs and internships for students in journalism and public relations, despite requests from some followers to add advertising, marketing and social media tags and jobs to the list. The fact of the matter is I am one person, doing this as a service to college students, and I don’t have the time to do this. I could make this feed a full-time job, but I would need to generate revenue, and I don’t see that happening. So, to those people, I’m sorry. That’s not to say those jobs don’t make it into the feed, particularly social media jobs, because they are so prevalent. However, the jobs from those areas that do make it into the feed typically state they are seeking students with a focus in journalism or public relations, which is why they get retweeted by my feed.

Right now, the hashtags affiliated with the feed are #internship, #jourintern (for journalism internships), #printern (for public relations internships), #entryleveljournalism and #entrylevelpr (for entry level jobs requiring one year or fewer of experience). I always check the link for each job before tweeting the internship, and I try to weed out internships that are unpaid slave jobs, and limit them to jobs that I feel will provide the intern relevant experience. I also usually modify the tweet to include the employer and location of the job or internship, so students not interested in relocating can skip over those internships.

As this column progresses, it will include profiles on regular contributors to the feed as well as followers of the feed who are, in essence, retweeting my retweets, weeding out still further what I’ve weeded out for their followers. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for future topics, don’t hesitate to contact me through the feed @comminternships or via e-mail: steven.chappell@simpson.edu.

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