AL.com has participated in the Birmingham Promise internship program since it began, an investment it hopes fosters future journalists as well as future champions for local news.
“One goal is to build interest among students wanting to pursue a career in journalism,” said Ivana Hrynkiw, a managing producer at AL.com, a digital news site that covers the state of Alabama. “Also, the partnership helps promote the importance of a strong news organization in the local community with both the student and the city.”
The internship program, which has operated three years, provides seniors at Birmingham City Schools with paid work experience. Businesses like AL.com that host interns are key to the program’s success. But the benefits actually go both ways, because businesses learn more about the talent pipeline that exists in the Magic City.
“One of the things that has surprised me the most on a personal level is just how further advanced in their education they are as seniors than when I was a senior in high school,” said Kent Faulk, managing producer of community and state news at AL.com. “That gives me hope.”
AL.com is the largest online news site in Alabama, attracting more than 8.5 million visitors a month for news, sports and entertainment coverage. The website is also affiliated with The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times and Mobile Press-Register newspapers under the umbrella of Alabama Media Group.
High-school interns offer AL.com’s staff a more youthful perspective about issues that are important in the community, insight that for a news organization is important, Hrynkiw said.
The students also gain valuable perspective, Hrynkiw and Faulk said.
The students get glimpses of how other people live and work outside their personal experiences with school and family, and they gain a better understanding of how to interact with others in a professional setting– particularly in an increasingly remote and virtual work environment that requires employees to operate more independently.
“We meet twice daily – once at the beginning of their workday to give them an assignment and the other at the end of the day to discuss any issues with that assignment,” Faulk said.
Hrynkiw said AL.com tries to tailor the internship experience to a student’s individual goals. “If they show an interest in a specific subject, or tell us what they would like to do in a future career, we try to find stories they can write or report on within those topics,” she said.
Faulk encouraged other local businesses to consider the ways Birmingham Promise interns can assist in their overall goals.
“Look at the intern’s resume and talk to them about their interests and see where they might best be suited within your workplace. Introduce them to workers who can talk to them about what they do in their jobs,” Faulk said. “In the end, you’ll both learn something.”
To learn more about this program, visit www.birminghampromise.org/apprenticeships-and-internships/.