Don’t rely on the classroom

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The Oakland Post

By Kaylee Kean

There are roughly 175 students majoring in journalism at OU, according to Garry Gilbert, head of the journalism department. Less than a quarter of those students are involved outside of the classroom.

Brian Hlavaty, special lecturer and internship director for the program, says 25 to 30 journalism students per semester take internships, most of which fall under advertising and public relations.

Of the 22 reporters, editors and interns here at the Post, less than half are journalism majors.

Where are the rest of those 175 students?

“My theory would be money is the issue for right now, and it’s unfortunate,” Hlavaty said, saying most students tell him they are too busy with homework and paying for college.

This is unfortunate, he says, because whatever grades and part-time jobs students might have, some of the things they need most are relevant connections and weight on their resumes.

“(Companies) want students with a little bit of experience when they start looking for interns,” Hlavaty said. “They might get 10 or 20 people applying for a couple internship positions and the students with just classroom copy are over here on one end of the thing, and over on the other (more appealing) end you would have students that have had an internship or two, that worked at the Post, have volunteered at a company. They have published works.”

As journalism students, we at The Oakland Post understand the importance of getting involved outside of the classroom and value that outside experience greatly. We write, edit, design, market, sell advertisements, develop plans and so much more— not to toot our own horns —and it doesn’t take long to realize there are some things that just can’t be learned without real pressures and real consequences.

This doesn’t apply to just journalism students. The trend can be found throughout OU and the different areas of studies—business, English, engineering, the arts, etc. Whatever the field, students are citing a lack of time and money for their lack of involvement. They are choosing the cautious route over the curious one, and saving the risks for when they graduate and will need to depend on their jobs to support families, pay bills and pay back the enormous amounts of money they spent to study their fields in the first place.

If students really want to make a career in a certain area, they need to get involved as much as possible before it’s too late. Whether it be through an internship, freelancing or a part-time job, there are key things students must learn and key connections they must make that just can’t be found within four walls, however prestigious those four walls may be.

When is it better to work like a novice, make mistakes and learn from those mistakes? At a college program or internship meant to teach, or at a more demanding full-time job that will provide the main source of income?

Wherever you, the students, are at in life, there are always options, and we at The Oakland Post urge you to find and explore those options. Don’t wait for succcess to come knocking. Go above and beyond: build credibility, build bridges, build weight, and above all, build yourselves. Or, as OU now says, “Aspire to rise.”