Star summer internships no day at the beach — but they're quite the journey
By Wendy Gillis
You might not lounge all day at the beach or spend weeks at the cabin, but a summer at the Toronto Star will take you places.
Past Star summer interns have covered the trial of fallen media baron Conrad Black in Chicago and tracked down one of the jurors, delved into the depths of a bitter custody battle over a whale at Niagara Falls' Marineland or poked fun at the picturesque city's anti-Toronto marketing campaign, and covered the abrupt layoffs of over a thousand workers at an Oshawa call centre.
They've gone to Korea Town to see if World Cup fans will cheer for North Korea, sniffed that new train smell when the TTC unveiled its rocket, and attempted to get the most bang-for-golden-buck as prices soared to new heights. Last summer — during the first week of our internship — Star reporter Amy Dempsey and I went undercover with protesters in the days leading up to Toronto's G20 summit.
Summer interns have asked why Toronto beach bums won't dare set foot in the lake (okay, so maybe you will go to the beach), why Mayor Rob Ford allegedly flipped the bird while driving, why Toronto doesn't have a public bed beg registry and why police fired into crowds at the Caribbean Carnival.
If you haven't figured it out already, a summer internship at the Star will send you somewhere unexpected, interesting, fun and important, even on the days when you've only left your desk for a coffee refill.
What's more, the on-the-ground experience — including reporting and writing, shooting photos and videos, tweeting and live-blogging, and more — in a competitive but supportive newsroom will take your journalism career further in 12 weeks than you ever thought possible. Just be prepared to learn, adapt and be ready for anything.
That, and work hard. Summer interns replace staff journalists on vacation, and editors rely on them to fill these reporters' shoes, wherever those shoes are taking you.
Oh — and don't just take my word for it. Read what three former summer interns had to say about the program.
Jasmeet Sidhu, Summer 2010:
More than any technical journalism experience, the summer internship at the Toronto Star really taught me to step outside my comfort zone: to learn how to drive on the Gardiner Expressway, to speak with mothers of fallen Canadian soldiers, and to be on the ground during a hostage-taking at a Swiss Chalet. But most of all, it was wonderful to spend a few months with some of the greatest reporters and writers in all of Canadian journalism right there in the Toronto Star newsroom.
Gilbert Ndikubwayezu, Summer 2011:
I enjoyed my summer at the Star first, because it challenged me: I would always come with a terrifying feeling that I was working for this big paper and that if I ever screwed up, it would be such a disappointment to t heir esteemed readers. Thus, the idea of fact-checking was huge. Second, because of the schedules: some weeks I would work day shifts, which normally mean you're bound to doing stories that are assigned to you; and other weeks I would work evening shifts which are normally super slow and thus you get a chance to develop your own feature ideas.
Amy Dempsey, Summer 2010:
Most people will tell you that life as a journalist or life in general is a marathon, not a sprint. Life as a summer intern is unquestionably a sprint. It's also a lot like living in a reality TV show. Exciting, dramatic and often bizarre.
Wendy Gillis is currently in the one-year program at the Star, and was a summer intern in 2010 and 2011.