This section is a rough-and-tumble compilation of information, tips, or random facts that don’t quite work in an FAQ format, but which are good to know before making the commitment to JRN850.

Overview:

  • It’s important to understand that the internship is technically a course, just like any other. It has a course code, and it’s timetabled. And like a course, it can be dropped, as long as that’s done before a certain set deadline;
  • In 2017-18 — that’s next September! — the internship course (JRN850)  remains a co-requisite of another course: Masthead, aka JRN 910 (I tend to shorten it to simply “Mh”). “Co-requisite” means you cannot take one without the other. The year after next (2018-19), it will no longer be a co-requisite. But let’s cross that bridge when we come to it;
  • —You take six weeks of internship and six weeks of Masthead (usually). In order to balance student numbers across sessions, we decide which you do first and which you do second;
  • Sessions are known as “F1” and “F2” in the fall, and “W1” and “W2” in the winter. It is helpful if we all use these terms for clarity and consistency;
  • Session dates may not be precisely determined until late summer, but here are approximations:
    • F1: the Tuesday after Labour Day to mid-October;
    • F2: mid-to late October to early December;
    • W1: early-to-mid January to mid-to-late February;
    • W2: early March to mid April.
  • 2017-18 is the final year JRN850 will be a graded course. After that (2018-19 and beyond) we are moving to a Pass/Fail system;
  • You may or may not get a “Reading Week”, as employers don’t recognise such an animal. It depends on the timing of your placement session;
  • Sometimes, certain plum placements (e.g., CBC London, and occasionally others) foist upon us session dates that simply don’t align with the Masthead (Mh) session dates. If you find yourself at such a placement, you may be required to do a “split shift” in Mh. Say for example you return from a placement at CBC London on 30 March, having gone there in late January, two weeks later than everyone else in W1. Upon your return to Toronto in late March, you would be required to return to Mh for any and all remaining weeks of the semester. Put differently, one way or the other you will need to complete at least six weeks of Mh, and an awkwardly timed placement is not going to obviate that;
  • —We need to assure our placement employers that prospective interns are good enough. This is an inexact science, but one of the prerequisites for taking JRN850 is a mark of at least B (and B+ for certain placements, including the CBC) in your workshop courses:
    • JRN304 (news reporting workshop);
    • JRN305 (digital);
    • JRN306 (radio);
    • JRN314 (tv).
  • If you wish to apply for a CBC internship, I believe you really should take all of 305, 306, and 314. It’s not a requirement! And to be honest, it may be impossible for you to fit all three into your timetable. Don’t stress about it. But it would be — in my opinion — a good thing to do If. At. All. Possible;
  • You may need to provide me (Jagg), upon request, a list of your past workshop instructors. If I ask you for such a list, I will also ask for your permission, in writing, to consult confidentially with any or all of the instructors. This will be necessary for all CBC placements, and for certain other ones as well. If you don’t grant me the permission to speak to them in confidence about your suitability, then I cannot support your application to the placement in question;
  • We reserve the right to require an interview with you to determine your suitability for placement;
  • if you’re going on exchange in your third year, please let me (Jagg) know, so you don’t miss out on any communication while you’re away;
  • You do not need to check with me before pursuing an internship that doesn’t appear in our database (see the section called “Internships”), but if you do end up with a placement that hasn’t previously taken RSJ interns (and therefore about which I will know very little), you will need to get my approval before you accept the placement. In order for me to give this approval, you will need to provide me with certain information about what is involved in the placement, i.e., the type of work you will be doing and the level of mentorship and supervision you can expect;
  • It is essential that you understand and accept that it is your responsibility to find, secure and set up your placement. We will help, but it’s totally on you to launch and conduct the search, make the approach, take part in any negotiations around the placement, and provide timely information to me about your progress;
  • There is workplace insurance. It’s called “WSIB”, which stands for Workplace Safety Insurance Board. You are covered only as long as you are doing the placement for academic credit. This is why we cannot normally allow internships outside of the academic year (e.g., during the summer), or for placements to run “informally” before or beyond the usual six weeks. There may be exceptions, but only when very particular specific elements are in place. It happens rarely. The WSIB document is found in the section called “Forms.” It needs to be signed by your placement employer on or before your first day. See additional details in the Forms section. (And just a heads up: this document is going to be updated, and I’m told there will be additional, more elaborate insurance documents required for next fall. The WSIB is a creature of the Government of Ontario, and its requirements change regularly. I’ll update everything for you the moment it’s all made available to me.)

 

What you MUST DO before you choose the JRN850/910 course option

  • —You must determine whether you have the necessary prerequisites. Check your Advisement Report! This will tell you the courses that you are eligible to take in 4th year. Here is the link
  • FILL OUT AND SUBMIT YOUR COURSE INTENTIONS (week of March 13). If you don’t, we have no way of planning next year’s course offerings, including hiring enough instructors. Then, say next year you decide to switch out of Internship into, say, TV Doc or Capstone. I’m afraid you could be out of luck. Those courses could very well be full and because we weren’t expecting you, you won’t be able to get in. We have had students who had to return for an extra semester (ka-ching!) because they failed to check their Advisement Reports or indicate their Course Intentions. As a result, the course(s) they needed for graduation were full. So yes there are consequences for not following the procedure around Course Intentions, as militaristic as I know that sounds. C’est la vie.
  • Remember you must meet a minimum grade requirement. It is B for most placements, and B+ for the CBC and certain other ones as well (precisely which “other ones” change frequently and so I am unable to be specific here. Let’s say it’s on a case-by-case basis).

 

What if I fail the internship?

  • There are definitely ways you can fail your internship. It happens rarely, but it does happen. See the FAQ on this topic.

 

Academic accommodation

  • If you are accustomed to receiving academic accommodation in some or all of your on-campus course work, you need to clearly understand that there is an entirely distinct and different process in place for accommodation whilst on placement. That process must be launched months in advance, and it may involve disclosure to your placement employer; 
  • This process is available to you if you live with a documented, permanent or temporary disability such as a learning disability, a sensory impairment (vision, hearing, other),—a mental health disability, or a chronic health issue (such as epilepsy, migraines, or chronic pain related to injury or disease);
  • You may be uncomfortable with the notion of disclosing your disability to a potential placement employer, and of course it is your absolute right not to disclose. But there may be upsides, and an illustration here might be helpful. A few years ago a student chose neither to seek accommodation, nor to disclose independently to her placement employer (the CBC) that she lives with chronic pain as a result of a motor accident in high school. Her workday usually consisted of long periods at a desk, using a computer, often taking notes from field producers and reporters over the telephone. She found that as the weeks went on, she couldn’t focus on her tasks because of the growing pain caused by the way she held the phone in the crook of her neck, while using the keyboard and mouse. Eventually she couldn’t perform the work at all. At that point she had to come clean to her supervisor.  The solution took about five minutes, and consisted of getting her a headset and an ergonomic mouse. The supervisor was only too happy to accommodate her, and in fact gave her a light bollicking for not speaking up sooner. Moral of the story: there are no heroics in not disclosing a disability. Just please follow the process outlined in this section;
  • What is NOT ok (and has happened in the past), is to show up in person or by email just as your placement is to begin, and present me (Jagg) with your standard letter for Academic Accommodation. For one thing, “academic” accommodation does not apply to placements and the letter is valid for nothing. Besides, it is unfair, unprofessional, and irresponsible to present a letter saying “Has difficulty meeting deadlines” or “Has difficulty working in busy, noisy environments”, just as you’re setting off to begin your internship in a daily newsroom that is by definition busy and noisy, and where deadlines simply cannot be missed. That said, please be open about this with me, and let’s start communicating about it early on. When you do that, it means we can launch the process that is designed to support you and your success. Deadlines, for example, can mean different things in different settings. Even if your disability means you have difficulty with strict deadlines, there may be ways around that. That’s what accommodation is for. It’s meant to create, as much as possible, a level playing field for all students. And, just as people do, placements come in all shapes and sizes;
  • The good people in the Accommodation Support Office are there to help. They’re located in the SLC and we work together with them. Remember, if you choose to seek special accommodation for your placement you need to initiate things months in advance, as it is a very individualized process. To set up the accommodation protocols you need, kindly reach out either directly to me (Jagg), or to Mandy Sandhu in the Accommodation Office: mandy.sandhu@ryerson.ca.

 

Interning at the CBC

  • If you are keen to  intern at the CBC, you must go through me (Jagg). Do not attempt to apply directly. Keep in mind there are very stringent requirements in place. The CBC interviews several candidates and chooses only those it feels are up for the challenge. Successful candidates will need to have a solid knowledge of news and current affairs; be highly aware of and familiar with a good deal of the programming on CBC radio, television, and online; and to understand what a public broadcaster is and how it operates;
  • The CBC application process begins long in advance. Normally I put out the notice in March for fall internships, and in September for winter ones. (NOTE: as of this writing, on 10 March, the CBC has still not posted its fall placements. This is uncharacteristically late and I don’t know why. I’m sure it will show up any day.);
  • The CBC does not necessarily offer internships across all sessions.  In 2016-17 for example, there were no internships offered in F2, and very few in W2;
  • Generally the CBC offers internships in TWO categories:
    • i) News;
    • ii) Talk (usually radio but not limited to radio).

The details about each specific category are not important here; they will be made perfectly clear once the postings are made available. But what IS important to understand is that while you may indicate a preference for one over the other  — News over Talk, or vice-versa — such a preference may have to be disregarded. It depends on the numbers the CBC is seeking to fill each category. If that happens, it will be up to you to decide whether you’d like to be at the CBC no matter what, or indeed whether the CBC only works for you if you’re placed on a certain program or platform. Either decision is perfectly fine. Don’t feel pressure to take a placement that doesn’t fit your needs or desires, whether at the CBC or elsewhere.