Internships prepare students for a full-time job and expand student networks that later help in the growth of their careers. The Reynolds School of Journalism Director of Internships and Experiential Learning, Claudia Cruz, is here to help students attain and make the best of their internships.
"It's a foundation for professional development," Cruz said. "Being in an environment that exposes you to what it might be like when you enter the professional world gives you a leg up."
Cruz is well versed in reporting and the media industry. Originating from New York, Cruz moved to California then to Reno for her current position which she found through Twitter.
"Most of the work I was doing was daily reporting," Cruz said. "My career has mostly focused on local communities and recent technology."
Cruz has aided in nurturing the talents of younger journalists and remains connected with all of the media relationships she built. She hopes to use her connections to help students find internships and jobs not only in Nevada but across the country.
"Throughout my career as a journalist, I've helped younger journalists," Cruz said. "I'm still in touch with people I interned for in 1995. What got me hired here was the same skills I used to get my internships in high school."
On the importance of an internship, Cruz mentions that without this foundation, it is difficult to stand out during the hiring process.
"I’m encouraging internships because your resume needs to start reflecting the job you want; this is how you transition," Cruz said. “Internships are how you start laying the ground work to show people, when you start interviewing for that first job after college, that you’ve been thinking about your profession."
She encourages students to start gaining experiences that teach them transferrable skills and stresses that even if an internship is not in an area or with a company where a student wants to work in the long run, the experience will still allow students to become more knowledgeable about the field and the employer.
"A lot of students don’t have a lot of experience or experiences that they are very proud of, it doesn’t matter," Cruz said. "During the application process you just have to be able to present your transferrable skills in a way that’s well written and shows you’ve learned something."
Cruz also mentions that writing is the backbone of attaining an internship and a future job.
"It's so important be a great writer," Cruz said. "The first step is having a meticulous resume and a meticulous cover letter. When someone looks at a resume or cover letter, you're presenting yourself; it's the first step of personal branding."
Cruz emphasizes that internships and jobs will not be handed to students, and students must be open and resourceful.
"Be personable," Cruz said. "Learn how to navigate this space where you need to be forward and ambitious, but also be comfortable with that. People will notice you if you let yourself get noticed. There are opportunities out there, you just have to be savvy about getting them."
Cruz can personally attest that networking is valuable and connections lead to opportunities. In 1998, Cruz was the manager of her university’s men’s varsity soccer team. This opportunity had a domino effect on the success of her career.
"The internship connection I made in college, I used again in 2006 to get myself back to Major League Soccer to intern for their legal department," said Cruz. "Network! Write letters; write Christmas cards. Now it’s easier! You can write emails." To this day, she still uses those contacts though now as a reporter.
Lastly, Cruz urges students to "take your passions and turn them into job opportunities."
Visit the Reynolds School internship page for recent opportunities. For Reynolds School students with any questions on getting an internship, please contact Claudia Cruz.