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Internship takes a UofGH Media Studies student from the unfamiliar to the front page

Awni Kalkat

I enjoyed everything about this internship. I was challenged in many different ways. The staff there is amazing, they welcomed me and it felt really great.

Graduating University of Guelph-Humber Media Studies student Awni Kalkat has loved journalism since childhood—but it was an internship at the National Post/Financial Post during her final term at UofGH that gave her real newsroom experience, and allowed her to plant the seeds for a successful future career.

Kalkat enrolled in UofGH’s Media Studies program because it offered exposure to all aspects of media during her first two years. “I loved writing stories, reading them, and hearing the news,” she recalls. “But in high school, I really didn’t get that background in journalism, and I didn’t know if I wanted to get into journalism or PR. I decided to go to UofGH because it allowed me to dabble in the first two years into each and every part of the media industry, and learn different skills before I started to specialize and choose a career path,” she says.

She ultimately chose to specialize in Journalism, and landed a coveted internship at the National Post/Financial Post, which she recently completed.

Hitting the ground running

She worked mainly for the Financial Post during her internship. In working for a financial newspaper, she was delving into, for her, uncharted territory. But even though she had no prior experience with financial and business journalism, Kalkat hit the ground running. She had to learn how to work with large amounts of financial data and distill the information into compelling stories.

“There was never a dull moment, it was challenging in many different ways,” she says. “Just being able to wrap my head around the material was the most intriguing and interesting part of it all.”

Her internship included a wide variety of challenging and exciting projects. She began by creating explainer videos to accompany articles, with one of her videos receiving over 100,000 views. She also worked as part of the web team where she reworked stories that came off the news wire. She also did original reporting.

She received an unexpected honour when one of her stories made the front page of the paper. “My editor handed me the front page of the Financial Post, and said ‘you’re in the paper!’ It was a good feeling,” she says. “I was taken aback; it was just a happy feeling, and it made my day to be in the paper for the first time, and I’m very grateful to my editor for that.”

Kalkat also had the opportunity to work on a documentary, where she used skills she has learned at UofGH to meet the challenge. “My editors helped me film the interviews, but I did the interviews myself and packaged it all,” she says. “I took what I learned in my Television Broadcasting class from my third year of Media Studies. I packaged it all together so I can add B-roll to it, and make it more engaging and fun.”

 “I enjoyed everything about this internship. I was challenged in many different ways,” says Kalkat. “The staff there is amazing, they welcomed me and it felt really great. Since the first day they’ve been supportive and communicative in the sense that they give me regular feedback.”

She says the internship has motivated her to keep honing her skills. “It has certainly shed light on the industry in a particular newsroom, how the newsroom works,” she says. “It has taught me that I need to keep practicing my skills, in the sense of trying to find stories, chasing them down, and interviewing people.”

Working with a new and unfamiliar subject matter also taught her to ask questions and keep persisting. “Never give up. There will be struggles along the way but there are ways to overcome it, and there are always resources available to you,” she says. “There’s always someone there to help if you need help.”

Career preparation

Kalkat says that internships allow students to get first-hand knowledge of their chosen fields. “It‘s a good thing because students can get some experience, if not the entire experience of an industry before they start going out in the field,” she says. “Not only does it expose you to what you will be working in the future, but it also gives you a career glimpse, and I think that prepares you a little more.”

She says internships also help students to make connections. “It exposes you to the industry earlier on, and it also helps you expand your connections. Especially in journalism—you get to meet editors, you get to meet so many different staff members who can help you and pull resources for you. You can create long-lasting relationships that you can take on, and lift your career that way.”

With convocation fast approaching, Kalkat says she will continue to look for a job or more internships. She has also applied to the Master’s program in Communications and Culture at York University. She credits UofGH for sparking her interest in furthering her education, and potentially teaching in the future.

“One thing I took away from the University of Guelph-Humber was having that theoretical knowledge. As much as I’m a journalist, I also love academia,” she says.

But no matter what the future holds, she says that she is open to writing on any subject matter.

“I told my deputy editor many times that I have no preference whatsoever. Some people are into entertainment or business or arts or whatever,” she says. “I want to be the versatile type of journalist that can write any type of story, and package news in a way that’s effective and appeals to our readers.”

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