Former editor finds internships help ease college debt

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Former editor Laura Garcia stops for a picture while on assignment at South Mountain Lake in Virginia.  Courtesy

Former editor Laura Garcia stops for a picture while on assignment at South Mountain Lake in Virginia. Courtesy

Six internships provide experience and enhance résumé.

By Katherine Garcia

kgarcia203@alamo.edu

Whether an internship is paid, give it your all, former Ranger editor Laura Garcia said in an interview Sept. 11.

“Always be prepared to work hard and really be an employee of that company,” she said.

Garcia, who currently works as a reporter for the Victoria Advocate, said internships helped her get a job because the work produced showed she had experience and was willing to work hard.

Throughout college, she worked as a sales representative intern at Taylor Publishing Company in 2005; a reporting intern at the Longview News-Journal May to August 2010; a reporting intern at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times June to August 2011; a design intern at the Working Press newspaper produced at the September 2011 Society of Professional Journalists annual convention in New Orleans; a news intern at the May 2013 Region 8 SPJ conference; and a reporting intern at The Roanoke Times May to December 2013.

Garcia was editor of The Ranger in spring and fall 2010 and received an associate of arts in journalism in 2011 from this college and a bachelor of arts in journalism in 2013 from Texas State University.

Garcia worked full time at this college’s newspaper during the week and was a waitress at Chili’s Grill and Bar on weekends to save money during the school year so she could afford to spend summers in internships. She worked at Chili’s from October 2006 to August 2014. She said never had to take out loans until she transferred to Texas State, but her debt was manageable and she took out just what she needed.

Garcia said all her internships were paid, some more than others.

While at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, she made $8 an hour and worked 40 hours a week at Chili’s Corpus Christi location. “You don’t get rich, but you have to make a little money,” she said about internship pay. Garcia said she missed out on a few social activities because of a lack of funds. She suggested considering both pay and lifestyle choices.

“I’ve turned down jobs because I wouldn’t have been able to feed myself,” she said, adding that students should ask themselves this question about considering internship pay: “Would you be happy living that way?”

She said although it was difficult at times making ends meet, “the experience was amazing, and you can’t put a dollar amount on that.”

Students should not be afraid to ask friends and family to help out, she said.

After spending three to four months sleeping on an air mattress during her internship as a community news reporter and photographer at The Roanoke Times, she accepted an extra mattress and box spring from a neighbor.

Garcia said it made no sense to buy a bed because her internship at the paper was only from May to December 2013. “You’d be surprised how many people are willing to help you,” she said.

She said students must know basic computer and social media skills. “It’s not acceptable anymore to not know how to use different browsers, or not know how to use a cell phone, or not even be remotely aware of how to use social media,” she said. “That’s an expectation now.”

She said students also should be experienced with using Microsoft Word and Excel, adding attachments to emails and using social media websites. “Take advantage of websites like LinkedIn and make sure social media accounts reflect the kind of employee you want to be,” she said.

Garcia also said to be prepared to work hard, look the part and dress appropriately.

“At every internship I’ve worked at, I’ve learned so much,” she said. “It’s amazing the kind of things you pick up that you can’t get from a class.”

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