Medill's Leading Experiential Programs

Journalism Residency

Medill's Journalism Residency (JR) program is based on a simple concept: Students learn best through real-world experience. For one full quarter (11 weeks), students work full-time for, with and alongside veteran professionals in real-world environments. The goal is for students to get hands-on experiences that help them develop new skills, test old skills, work under deadline pressure, hone their news judgment, sharpen fact-checking and research skills, explore new career paths and build confidence in their capabilities.

The following are our JR categories:

  • Broadcast/Videography: Students get experience writing, shooting and editing stories at TV stations.
  • Magazine: Students enhance their understanding of the intricacies of magazine production.
  • Marketing Communications: Students participate in persuasive writing and interactive communication.
  • Newspaper/Online: Students do hands-on reporting, copy editing or web production.

How Do Employers Benefit?

Our Journalism Residency is no ordinary internship. Employers often view the experience as a way to recruit future employees. It works in your favor because Medill students are very detail-oriented, creative, and motivated. Our past employers know that Medill interns demonstrate a great work ethic, and can attest to the success of the program.

The Journalism Residency program begins with an extensive application and placement process during which we assess students’ skills, capabilities, previous experience and academic achievements. Our goal is to match JR applicants with employers in order to benefit both parties. Employers do not pay students directly for their work, but make a $1,250 contribution to Medill. We then use these funds as stipends for students to help defray travel and housing expenses.

Site Supervisor’s Role during JR

The employer assigns each student a site supervisor. We ask our site supervisors to consider themselves involved in a teaching partnership with Medill, and we count on them not only to supervise, but also to coach, mentor and evaluate our students. We ask our site supervisors to provide everything from preparation tips and guidelines on how to pitch a story idea to career advice.

The “teaching" commitment is a key responsibility of the site supervisors. It is imperative that they provide substantive learning opportunities for students through the tasks and responsibilities assigned. While we understand that students must take initiative in seeking opportunities for growth, site supervisors also must take time to give feedback and mentor the students.

Finally, site supervisors are asked to fill out mid-term and final evaluations, gauging students’ progress and accomplishments. Site supervisors also meet with Medill faculty advisers, either in person or by phone, midway through the internship. The student will help arrange a mutually agreeable time for these conferences.

If you would like more information about the Journalism Residency program, please contact:

Karen Springen, Lecturer and Journalism Residency Director

847-467-1459

k-springen@northwestern.edu

IMC Immersion Quarter for Full-Time Students

The IMC full-time program offers a core course that combines classroom learning with on-site immersion. Students work at top companies on real-world projects and have the unique opportunity to create fresh solutions and answers to real challenges and questions. The Immersion Quarter is a required component of the program and a great learning opportunity for students.

Recent student team accomplishments include:

  • Developed a go-to market plan for the worldwide launch of two new products for the leading CRM software firm. The plans were so well received by management that the entire student team was invited to their major industry event to see their plans and ideas come to life.
  • Designed a comprehensive social media and brand activation plan to reach and position the leading Internet hardware manufacturer as a thought leader on emerging technologies to influential executives involved in technology initiatives including Internet of Things (IoT) programs.
  • Conducted a measurement study leading to strategic recommendations based on deep insights for a marketing association to help them better understand how to achieve their mission. 2015 marked the fourth year working with this sponsor. Results in 2014 led the association to adopt a new way of thinking about their mission. And in 2015, the student team developed a digital content strategy that has been implemented.
  • Created a vision and plan looking forward 3-5 years and in-store ideas using emerging technologies to redefine the shopper experience for the world’s largest QSR company in partnership with their agency.
  • Developed a strategic plan including digital and event marketing ideas to grow revenue through fundraising for a national public radio station. Based on market research and data analysis, the team identified digital strategies and brand activation tactics to deliver relevant online and mobile content to raise money to support programming and station costs.
  • Analyzed the competitive landscape and customer attitudes and beliefs to develop a global omni-channel pricing strategy for a leading manufacturer of computer and tech products and an iconic tech brand.
  • Positioned a major credit offering for a leading financial services company. Worked from data to insights and ideas to better communicate the compelling and numerous customer benefits of this product leading to higher customer usage and engagement and increased customer acquisition.
  • Delivered an immediately implementable strategic plan designed to focus resources on the best potential customer segments and drive high quality leads for the sales force of a high-profile marketing tech start-up.
  • Created an actionable integrated marketing plan including a market size analysis for a latent tuberculosis diagnostic test invented and manufactured by a top global molecular diagnostics pharmaceutical company.
  • Assessed the efficiency of the digital media plan and budget levels as well as marketing technologies used to reduce media spend by 20 percent while maintaining effectiveness for an insurance company that serves military families. Created a new plan to achieve this lofty goal over the next five years.

We have students from all over the world, each bringing their unique experiences and perspectives to the projects. After three quarters of intense classroom learning, our students are ready to apply what they are learning along with their passion, energy and fresh ideas to work their hardest to solve significant problems. 

In addition to the project work, students participate in a Leadership Strategies Program. This program fine-tunes skills required to make projects more successful including interpersonal communications, team building, conflict resolution, managing clients and presentation. We conduct formal on-­campus strategic checkpoints where faculty and students work together to move the project plan forward to meet the goals sponsors have set.

If you are interested in learning more about the IMC Immersion Quarter, contact Lecturer and Director of the Immersion Quarter Gerry Chiaro.

Medill’s Global Residency Program

The Global Residency Program is an optional fifth quarter of study available to graduate students. It provides the opportunity to build on their subject or technique specializations. Students work in carefully supervised residencies at one of dozens of participating news organizations and publications in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Oceania and the Americas. In some limited, specific situations, students may get approval to do the Global program during their fourth quarter.

Global Residency is a three-unit academic course consisting of a 10- to 12-week residency at a news organization (2 units) and an independent-study project (1 unit) conducted during the residency quarter. Designed to enhance the residency experience, the project will help the student gain an in-depth understanding of current issues or challenges being addressed by news organizations abroad; or to develop journalistic expertise in a subject of importance or keen interest in the city or region of the residency.

Student Placement

Students are placed in residencies after close consultation among the student, the on-site residency supervisor (e.g., editor, news director, bureau chief, production leader) and Medill’s Global Residency coordinator. The goal is for the student to be placed in a residency where the assignments and experiences build on her or his topic or technique specialization at Medill.

Local-language proficiency is required for many residencies. In such cases direct contact between the student and the on-site residency supervisor has proved sufficient to determine that the student has the appropriate language competencies.

Faculty Adviser

Once placed in a residency, the student will be assigned a Global faculty adviser, who serves three important functions: 1) Helping the student prepare for the residency by setting realistic goals, benchmarks and strategies for success; 2) Communicating regularly with the student during the residency and, as appropriate, with the student’s on-site supervisor to ensure that all parties’ expectations are being met – troubleshooting and intervening if necessary; and 3) Overseeing, monitoring and assessing the development and execution of the student’s independent-study project.

The Residency

During the residency students complete a range of assignments similar in quality and quantity to those of an entry-level professional staff member. Through planning, coordination and constant feedback among student, adviser and residency supervisor, the student should benefit from a program of increasingly challenging assignments and professional growth.

It is not unusual for global students to report and write high-profile stories that get widespread international play. Increasingly, these stories are produced in multimedia formats and prominently displayed on major websites.

The pace of journalism, whether at a small-town daily newspaper or on the international stage, often depends on the news of the day and the state of the world. Students undertaking Global residencies should be prepared for daily and long-term assignments that may be important, exciting or mundane. Students should also be prepared to bring their unique visions to residencies and to use them to generate and execute enterprise stories

Independent-Study Project

The independent-study project will be developed with oversight by the Global faculty adviser and approved by Medill's director of graduate studies and the Global Residency coordinator. On occasion, multiple student projects may be coordinated to explore the same subject from different parts of the world.

Students have considerable latitude in defining the subject and presentation of projects, although most will be either 1) an analysis of a current issue, trend or challenge of importance to news organizations abroad, presented as a written report; or 2) an in-depth journalistic report reflecting the student’s area of specialization.

Analysis of a current journalism issue/trend/challenge would be based on interviews with leaders of the host news organization and, quite possibly, their counterparts at other news organizations in the residency region. Examples might include practicing journalism and setting priorities in a difficult economy; evolving definitions of audience; convergence of media in developing the news report; changing cost and revenue models; and ethical issues unique to foreign correspondency or different cultures. The interviews and analysis would be synthesized in a written report of 1,000-2,000 words.

An in-depth journalistic project might be produced as an audio slideshow, video report, text-story package or a combination of elements. In depth and complexity, it might be equivalent to a website centerpiece, broadcast special report, newspaper Sunday package or high-profile magazine story. Choice of subject is limited only by the student’s imagination and sense of practicality – and the necessity that the subject be worthy of in-depth treatment. The topic can be hard news or soft; issue-oriented or people-oriented. It is envisioned that such a project would be suitable for publication on Medill websites or by the residency host organization, or that it might be marketed as freelance journalism. A well-executed project should be an important clip or link on the student’s résumé.

Depending on the nature of the project, students may be encouraged to begin work before their on-site residency begins in order to minimize time conflicts. Host-organization supervisors will be aware of the projects and, when possible, offer advice. However, it is the student’s responsibility to manage time and assignments such that the host organization’s needs are met and the project is completed on schedule. In certain approved instances, depending on the student’s plans for the following quarter, extra time may be spent in the residency city to complete the project.

Program requirements

Students must be in good academic standing, both when they apply and at the beginning of the residency quarter. Students prepare for the residency quarter by taking the Global Journalism seminar as part of their regular coursework at Medill. Students also attend pre-residency seminars, conducted by faculty and guest experts, to become better prepared for the issues and challenges associated with reporting from abroad.

Cost

The cost of participating in the Global Residency Program is comparable to the estimated cost of a quarter's enrollment in the Medill graduate program and is relative to the cost of living in the residency city. All participants may apply for additional scholarship funds. Financial aid and the student health plan are available for the global quarter.

Residencies vary in financial support: Some organizations pay student residents; some provide support for housing or expenses; and some provide no monetary compensation or support.

The Global Residency Program staff actively assists students in finding housing options in residency cities. Each student should be prepared to cover expenses including tuition, airfare, housing, meals and other costs during the course of the quarter.

Further information is available from Bill Handy, coordinator of the Global Residency Program, at w-handy@northwestern.edu.

Innovation Projects

During the fourth quarter, students participate in Medill's pioneering Innovation Projects, working in immersive team settings to solve real problems in the media industry. In just 11 weeks, students learn everything that goes into successful media product development. Working in teams, students conduct consumer research, create new products and services and build a business plan.

The final projects are presented to journalism and media leaders who look to Medill for innovative ideas and enterprising students.