Sycamore native Lindsey Diehl started her college years at another institution.
“I just didn’t love it,” she says, reflecting on her time there. “And so, I thought to myself, where do I see myself being? I’d loved (NIU) for such a long time, so it was an obvious choice, and the best decision I ever made.”
Now entering her senior year and preparing to graduate in December, the journalism major has been involved in a host of NIU activities.
At NIU, she entered the Honors Program. She also spent a semester working for the Northern Star, and last summer, she received a highly competitive internship with the ABC7 in Chicago. “Getting into journalism was something I thought would be pretty scary,” Diehl said. “Coming to Northern gave me the confidence to actually do it.”
Diehl spent six months at ABC7; her supervisors were so pleased with her work that they arranged to extend her summer internship into the fall.
She primarily worked with Karen Meyer, an award winning feature reporter who primarily deals with issues pertaining to people with disabilities. Along with setting up the shoots on Meyer’s calendar, Diehl was also heavily involved in pre-production planning, which brought her into frequent contact with non-profit organizations and PR professionals.
In addition to these duties, Diehl had a variety of other experiences. She assisted the producer of live segments for the station’s 11 a.m. news with cooking or fashion pieces, and during last year’s election coverage, she helped gather photos and other information about the various candidates.
The best part of the experience was the opportunity to work so closely with influential people like Meyer, Diehl says. “The stories we delivered meant so much to the people that were featured in them, and to those who watched them,” she says.
While helping to produce Meyer’s segments, Diehl received many phone calls from people who were touched by these segments, and who just wanted to get involved: “That really warmed my heart.”
Diehl’s NIU experiences haven’t been limited to journalism. She spent spring break last year in Poland with a group of NIU art students.
“That’s what my experience at NIU has been about. I’ve been learning new things whether that’s within journalism, or outside,” she says. “If you’re willing to push yourself to the limit and do something out of the norm, go for it. Northern will help you.”
Her experience demonstrates just one of the many benefits of an internship, says Cathy Doederlein, coordinator of internships for the humanities in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Besides offering opportunities to build skills and experience, internships allow students to try out specific fields of interest and adjust their studies if something doesn’t work. They also have the opportunity to build their professional networks.
“Lindsey is now connected to several great contacts at a station that’s in the third-ranked media market in the nation. That kind of recommendation … would likely carry a lot of weight.” She also points out that many interns find jobs waiting for them the day they graduate.
Doederlein’s office works with dozens of student interns each semester. “I’d definitely encourage students to take initiative in finding internship opportunities,” she says. “Be willing to take a risk in trying to get ‘higher end’ internships, because you don’t know if you can get an internship opportunity unless you apply.”
A house-warming for the Humanities and Interdisciplinary Majors Internship is planned from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5, in Reavis 306A. The event features presentations at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. It also includes free food and walk-in meetings.
by Cameron Orr