Students credit internships as valuable preparation for fall semester

August 17, 2020

(Editor’s Note: This is the ninth in a series of stories about students from the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications completing summer internships.)

Two Penn State students completed valuable internships in an unusual way this summer — in person — and they believe their experiences at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette prepared them for what will be successful fall semesters.

Photographer Lily LaRegina and writer Jade Campos enter their junior years after working from June to mid-August in Pittsburgh. Just getting approval for in-person internships during the coronavirus pandemic was part of the challenge.

Campos first applied for her position in December and by the time she heard back in April things had changed. Many internship sites were canceling or moving to virtual-only offerings and personal safety became a big consideration.

“Even in a normal setting, there was housing and many other things to worry about,” Campos said. “My parents were not really worried — I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing — but I guess it’s because they trusted me. I just knew being in person would be a better experience than having to work remotely, so it was worth doing.”

LaRegina was similarly motivated.

“I know there could be a little bit of a risk, but it was worth it because I’m not sure I’d get it any other way,” LaRegina said. “A lot of the people I had the pleasure of meeting were obviously aware of the pandemic. On the street they were distancing and wearing masks.”

LaRegina knew about the internship opportunity because another Penn State student and colleague at The Daily Collegian had previously completed an internship with the paper.

She enjoyed experiencing Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods and meeting people. She appreciated the challenge the internship presented, too. Even though it was an in-person experience, much of it was conducted individually. She would find things to shoot or complete assignments and then edit and file her photos from her apartment.

She got feedback from editors virtually.

“It was a challenge, but it was a good challenge,” she said. “I had to kind of take a little more initiative and figure some things out, too. That was good for me, I think.”

She experienced breaking-news assignments and valued feedback about things such as composing shots, gathering details, writing captions and more.

Campos worked from the office daily. Many of her interviews were conducted by phone, often with a focus on human interest stories. One of her favorites was about how martial arts studios in southwestern Pennsylvania were getting back into business.

She said the internship built her confidence in different situations and helped her find more creative ways to approach and evaluate stories.

Although things like dinners out were limited in part by the virus, she explored the east side of Pittsburgh, near campus for Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, as well as Schenley Park.

She and LaRegina both anticipate the start of the fall semester at Penn State.

“It’s certainly going to be different, but I’m excited to go back,” LaRegina said.

Campos, a member of the Blue Band, said she was excited but nervous and a little unsure what to expect. Still, she’s sure the internship experience helped her hone her skills and she’s excited to put them into practice when the returns to campus.

  • Lily LaRegina headshot

    Lily LaRegina was one of two Bellisario College students who completed a summer internship in person at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

    IMAGE: Photo Submitted
Last Updated August 17, 2020