Aida Alami …

… is an Hunter alumna who founded the printed WORD, generating a lot of attention at its upstart (but it crashed and burned after she graduated). She is also a former online WORD writer. She just notified me that she has been accepted by the graduate journalism program at Columbia University. She is one of those Hunter alumnae and alumni who is always passing on great tips and contact information to me to be passed on to other students. She would blush at the following: We had interesting clashes over issues journalistic when she was a student leader.

Quickly: She had this lust for broadcast journalism when she was an undergraduate and her internship experience convinced me that talented J-students from Hunter could get really good broadcast internships. I had been under the impression based on the experiences of a lot of students that talented J-students were too easily trapped into roles for fetching coffee. Anyway, Alami’s journalism acumen + her fluent Arabic (she also speaks fluent French) got her an internship with ABC in NYC whre she worked on real stories and, when she graduated, led to a serious $$$ freelancing with ABC, affiliate and network.

The sluggishness in the freelancing segueing to a real job with benefits and other salaried protections caused her to apply to grad school.

And that brings me to a topic I’ve decided to post about in the near future. This informal network of students and former students has proved far superior than the Department of Film and Media Studies’ method of posting lots and lots and lots of internship information on this BIG bulletin board system (there is also a web site connected to this setup).

The providers of the best internships prefer another system that I set up informally with Hunter’s Career Development Services. I won’t discuss details in this post but check this out: Hunter,* over a period of a few years, once ranked first through five of the 70 colleges nationwide with students competing for paid internships with The Business Press Education Foundation. One time at a BPEF banquet and ceremony held at Baruch College/CUNY, a crowded banquet hall sighed loudly when a gaggle of Hunter students stood for recognition. They were all students from my writing classes and none had ever checked out the bulletin board. And there were later student accomplishments (as this system developed), including internships at Variety, the American Society of Magazine Editors, Newsday, NY1 and on and on and on.

No disrespect to colleague Larry Shore who was the chief engineer and biggest supporter of the bulletin board system, but, as I tried to inform him years ago, the bulletin boards are ooo-lll-ddd and outdated. One of the reasons I prefer working directly  albeit informally  with Career Development is the way that it works with students. Its staff knows that students seeking internships and jobs whether the students know it or not or even care  are perceived as emissaries of the Department of Film and Media Studies (and thus the college). CD keeps them – my preferred choice of words – from shooting themselves in the foot/feet. Definite foot-casualties result from misspellings in resumes and cover letters as well as other faux pas big and small. A key internship source with a women’s organization once sent me an email expressing shock at the quality of resumes and cover letters from students (students uninformed that they should check with Career Development before making contact with a potential employer).

When I was considering teaching in the graduate journalism program at City University of New York, the bulletin board format was quickly nixed from a list of plans for the CUNY program. It was decided that the system was ooo-lll-ddd and ineffective.

Truth be told, however, colleague Karen Hunter is the new internship director for the department.

More later, maybe something like what every serious J-instructor and J-student should know about internships, as things develop under colleague Hunter.
* I started developing this system when I was a full-time, non-tenured assistant professor and had to cut back drastically on it when I was told that helping students getting internships was not well regarded and would not generate a sufficient incentive to support my tenure. So, “Hunter” remained in the lower tier of the top five for a number of years and then slipped to a rank of about the top 15 or 20. [Starting the WORD helped me to overcome some of that weirdness in my department but more on that later and not on this blog.]


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