Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The competition is heating up...

No, this isn't a plug for Top Chef...

As graduation slowly rears it's ugly head for us senior journalism students, the usual semester whispers and gossip floats through the hallways of the jschool about who's doing what this summer. So do the slanted eyes and the fact checks and this time the conversations are more heated than ever. And use fewer words.

At Maryland, all journalism students must complete an internship that goes for at least 120 hours - roughly translated, that means working about two full days a week over the course of a semester while taking enough classes to maintain full student status: 12 credits.

Most students complete this class - JOUR399 - their junior or senior year and at that point, many students have moved out of the dorms and into off-campus apartments or houses in near-by neighborhoods. These are places where they have to keep paying the rent on a monthly basis and through the summer. It's because of this that most of us try to look for internships in the D.C. area and being that in my class alone there are over 100 people and about 5 internships available, the competition can be fierce and the tactics sneaky.

Everyone asks where you're applying, but out of fear of having someone else pull the rug out from underneath you, the typical answer is, "I'm not sure yet," or "I haven't really started looking, how about you?" The response is the same, "yeah me either, I'll get around to it at some point."

The reality is, most students began the mass resume distribution weeks ago but they're afraid that by telling their peers where they're applying, others will think "great idea" and go for that internship too. In on the flip-side, there is a whole social song-and-dance routine you do to sniff out who's applying for what and where have you did forget to apply to.

As I was sitting in the front hallway of the journalism school yesterday with a bunch of other seniors waiting for class to start, I realized those same conversations were creeping up once again only this time the tone was more serious and the details more vague.

Jack*: "Have you started applying for jobs yet?"
Julie*: "No, not really. You?"
Jack: "Umm, not really, no."

As Jack walked away, Julie pulled me and said, "have you heard anything about jobs down in West Palm Beach? I heard Jack got a call for reporting. I got one for producing. Find out for me, would you please? I really want to report, oh why did they like him more than me?"

Julie only approached me because I had said weeks ago I didn't want to go all the way down to Florida to work after graduation. Had I applied for the job, she wouldn't have brought it up at all to me but instead gone to great lengths to weave through the grape vine to hear what I had gotten a call back for.

It's amusing that we're so secretive and terrified that one person is better than another and if they have a job there's this deep background search as to why she got it over you, and tons of fretting over it. It seems like a lot of energy that could be channeled into simply saying "yeah, I got it" because I guarantee the other student will simply say "oh." Then maybe we could challenge that worrying energy into cooking delicious and ridiculous meals.

*names have been changed

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