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Apply now for the first annual Kirk Laughlin Internship Fund, $5,000 toward a summer journalism internship in NYC

Mar 13, 2017

Posted in: News

By William Lineberry

This summer two Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture students will become the first to take part in a new internship program the School established with the help of a prolific alumnus and media entrepreneur, Kirk Laughlin.

The idea came to Laughlin, a 1987 graduate of the School and founder of Next Coast Media, after he gave a lecture to faculty and students in the Robertson School last spring. On his drive back to his home state of Connecticut, Laughlin said he had the idea to try and “build a bridge” between the Robertson School and the East Coast media mecca, New York City. The idea started to become a reality. Laughlin soon began planning with director of the School, Hong Cheng, Ph.D., to get the program off the ground.

Kirk Laughlin (above) has helped establish a journalism internship program that is exclusive to Robertson School students. The program will allow students to work at various media outlets in New York City during the summer months.
Kirk Laughlin (above) has helped establish a journalism internship program that is exclusive to Robertson School students. The program will allow students to work at various media outlets in New York City during the summer months.

As a media veteran of more than 25 years, Laughlin understood the importance of real-life work experience for aspiring journalism students. With that in mind, he wanted to give back to the School and its students by allowing the opportunity to gain that real-life experience through an internship program that focuses on digital media and storytelling.  

“I’ve come to see that this type of experience is indispensable,” Laughlin said. “It all starts to make more sense once you’re in there getting that kind of inside-the newsroom stuff handed to you-- like what to post on social media and how to serve the editorial mission of the publication you’re working at.”

In 2009, Laughlin started his own media and research group, Next Coast Media. After graduating from VCU in 1987, Laughlin worked as a reporter, English language instructor in Japan, a freelance writer and as a publishing editor. Since the inception of Next Coast, the company has grown its staff and expanded to five different countries across three continents.  

The internship program is only being offered exclusively to Robertson School journalism students and will take place over the course of six to eight weeks this summer 2017. Laughlin helped secure the participating digital media companies based in New York for the summer internship program.

“Programs like this provide valuable experiences during which students are able to complete practical, real-world assignments, develop greater subject expertise, build networking connections and help distinguish their passion for a specific career path,” said Margaret McDearmon, internship coordinator at the Robertson School. “The School is fortunate to have such involved alumni who recognize the importance of creating beneficial opportunities that support student advancement within communications industries.”

When asked what he hoped students would stand to gain from an opportunity like this, Laughlin went for a basketball reference. He compared students from the Robertson School to the 2011 men’s basketball team that went to the NCAA Final Four.

‌“They didn’t melt under pressure or make easy mistakes,” Laughlin said. “They just showed up and used what they had learned up to that point and were successful. People that participate in this program can make themselves proud of who they are and they can begin to see the tremendous satisfaction in what I see as a very creative industry” Laughlin said. “

Laughlin said he hopes that the students participating in this internship program can do just what the 2011 basketball team did when they reached the Final Four—recognize their own potential, gain confidence and become successful.

Journalism students interested in applying for the internship program should submit their online application no later than March 31 here: https://vcu.academicworks.com/opportunities/1087