How a Knight internship helped build skills in journalism

Knight Foundation’s work to foster informed and engaged communities relies on effective storytelling, which is a critical part of the editorial internship experience, one of several openings now available for summer 2016.

Interns, who must be college students or recent college graduates, work across the foundation in paid positions for 10 weeks.

Below, Carolina Wilson, a South Florida native who now works for Bloomberg News in New York, shares insights from her summer 2014 editorial internship with Knight, where she built skills that have aided her career in journalism.

What is your role at Bloomberg?

I’m currently a reporter at Bloomberg News. I was first a 2015 summer news intern covering Latin American equity and bond markets. If you’re hired out of an intern class at Bloomberg, like I fortunately was, you rotate on three different news teams before settling into a permanent role. My first rotation was with the organization’s Briefs team, which produces various newsletters driven by data analysis and news commentary. I mostly continued my coverage of Latin America and contributed to the Latin America Brief, while also utilizing some data, mapping and charting skills I had first learned in graduate school. I’m now on my second rotation, covering oil on the energy team. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be covering oil as it is trading near a 12-year low and one gallon of milk is now worth about two gallons of oil!

Carolina Wilson, a former intern with Knight, outside of Bloomberg News offices in New York.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning when you get to work?

I grab a coffee from our pantry and log into my Bloomberg Terminal. I pull up the function OTOP, which shows me the top oil stories of the day. 

What are the skills you would say are necessary for a career in journalism today?

I believe that journalists have to be good storytellers. And a good storyteller needs to decipher what elements are needed to tell the best story. Sometimes, a journalist may find that a story needs visual elements to be the most impactful: photos, videos, a map graphic, or a bar chart. Finding voices or sources is always an essential ingredient. A journalist must be willing to completely submerge him or herself in the story, to find the characters, the tension, the issues and the resolutions. 

What interested you in the internship program with Knight Foundation?

I was drawn to the internship program at Knight Foundation because I was looking to take a different approach to reporting about the Miami community. As an editorial intern working with [Editorial Director] Michael Bolden, I was constantly encouraged and challenged to not only report on specific organizations or projects that Knight Foundation had helped bring to life, but to also propose and pitch my own ideas about what I was seeing in the innovative Miami space.

Your internship with Knight was the summer between your graduation from the University of Notre Dame and the start of a master’s program in journalism at Stanford University. Did your experience at Knight relate to your studies in school?

I didn’t have an extensive background in journalism when I started my internship at Knight. I had written for my college newspaper and had interned for a small community paper, but it was clear that my experience was lacking. I knew that Michael was giving me a chance and I was ready to take that opportunity to learn as much as I could about a potential reporting career. As an editorial intern, I was constantly attending and covering events or conferences, conducting source interviews over the phone and in person, and pitching my own ideas as longer-term features for the blog.

What was the most valuable part of your internship experience?

This is a tough one. I really do feel as if my internship at Knight was my first, true introduction to the reporting space. Michael was an incredible mentor who constantly challenged and pushed me to be a better writer and reporter. He trained me to think like a storyteller and to constantly ask myself “Why is this important?” or “Why should the reader care?”

Did you have any assumptions about philanthropic work, or Knight’s work specifically, that changed as a result of your internship experience?

I knew that part of Knight Foundation’s mission is to encourage and support communities through their ideas in journalism, media innovation, the arts and civic engagement. At the conclusion of my internship with Knight I only identified with and understood that mission even more.

You’re a South Florida native. What recommendations do you have for future interns about living in Miami?

Explore Miami! As an intern at Knight Foundation, you’re already off to a great start. Ask around for conferences or projects that Knight may be sponsoring in the area and attend. Absorb. Meet people. To get the most out of your internship you should try to immerse yourself in the Miami community. Start with some Knight Foundation events, make friends with your fellow interns, and never stop exploring.

Any advice for our future interns?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Get to places early and stay late. The more you pick up the phone to call sources, or turn around at a conference and introduce yourself, the better the reporter you will be. As an intern at Knight you are surrounded by minds filled with experience and ready to teach. Take this wonderful opportunity to grow as a professional and identify with the unique mission of the foundation.

To apply to Knight Foundation’s internship program, please send a cover letter and resume to [email protected].