100% Student Engagement Series: UA Journalism Program Led to Newspaper Gig

University Relations
Sept. 17, 2014

The University of Arizona is committed to ensuring that every student integrates and applies learning via internships, jobs, research and other opportunities relevant to the real world. This is the third in a five-part UANews series detailing industry-related experiences UA students have completed.

Justin Sayers with his family at the UA commencement ceremony in May 2014.

Having earned his bachelor's degree in journalism from the UA in May, Justin Sayers spent part of his summer serving as a sports copy editor with the Hartford Courant, a newspaper in Connecticut.

While at the Courant, Sayers was responsible for editing sports stories for accuracy, grammar and style. In the deadline-prone environment, Sayers said he had to "adapt to the fast pace of a real-life newsroom. I've been able to learn a lot about copy editing, which has actually helped me become a better writer and better journalist."

Sayers returns to the UA this fall to begin the master's degree program in journalism, and his long-term professional plan is to work for a newspaper as a reporter. He offered insights about his summer experience. Read other articles in the series:

Q: How did you land your summer internship?

Sayers: I got my internship for the summer through the UA's School of Journalism. When I was a junior, one of the representatives from the Dow Jones News Fund came to talk to my class about applying to the internship the following year.

Q: What was it about the position that captured your interest?

Sayers: I was interested in the internship because I've always had an interest in sports journalism, but never had the chance to do hands-on work in the field. I've already had a lot of experience with writing and reporting, so editing seemed like something I wanted to try. Luckily for me, I was accepted and was able to make myself more well-rounded this summer.

Q: How do you envision that your summer internship will help you in the future?

Sayers: I definitely think that this internship helped me both professionally and academically. I feel that I was able to gain a leg up on my peers by taking part in a unique opportunity. I feel the experiential learning prepared me for finding a job because it gave me a good sense of the industry I'm going into. And I decided to pursue a master's degree in journalism because I felt that one extra year for a second degree was an opportunity I could not pass up. My sister spent five years after graduating from college with a history degree working to become a dietitian, so she persuaded me when she heard that I could get a second degree that quickly. Also, anything to get me a leg up on my peers in the job hunt is a plus.

Q: What were some of the standout moments for you?

Sayers: The moments that stood out were the positive reinforcement that I received from my superiors. They let me know when I made mistakes, but did it in a constructive way, making sure that I learned from them. Also, I think the fact that everybody seemed upset when I left showed that I was able to assimilate myself into the newsroom during my short time there.

Q: What advice would you provide to other students?

Sayers: I definitely think that internships are the best way for students to prepare themselves for going out into the real world. Classes are important, but you can only talk about something so much without actually doing it. Being able to learn while also gaining experience is an opportunity that students should never pass up. It also allows you a little more freedom than jumping into a job you know nothing about right after college.

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