Dow Jones News Fund internships

Colin Kennedy, who received a Dow Jones News Fund internship in 2014
Colin Kennedy, who received a Dow Jones News Fund internship in 2014

The Dow Jones News Fund offers paid summer internships for college journalists. The interns work at some of most prestigious news organizations in the United States, including The New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal and Reuters news service.

The DJNF internships focus on four areas: data journalism, digital media, business reporting and news editing. Interns receive a week of training at New York University, Arizona State University, the University of Missouri, Temple University, Pennsylvania State University or the University of Texas. Then they work for 10-12 weeks at their assigned newsroom.

The program is open to undergraduate students, graduate students and students who have just graduated. The interns are paid at least $400 a week, and those returning to school after a successful internship receive a $1,000 college scholarship.

The deadline to apply for the 2016 summer internships is Nov. 3, 2015. As part of the application process, students must take an editing test that covers grammar and word usage, current events (including placing them on a map), editing and headline writing. At the Robertson School, Associate Professor Jeff South administers the test. If you want to apply for the DJNF program, contact South at jcsouth@vcu.edu or 804-827-0253.

South also helps students prepare for the test and assemble their applications. He conducts workshops for interested students and provides online resources.

Take a Dow Jones dry run: Previous editing tests & answer keys

All of the DJNF tests from 1998 through 2015, with the answers, are on the EditTeach.org website. The test typically has five parts:

1. Grammar: confusable words: who/whom, principle/principal, fewer/less, flout/flaunt. You circle the correct word. Usually 20 questions.

2. Current events: news and pop culture, people and events. You fill in the blanks. 10-15 questions.

3. Geographic knowledge: You’ll be shown a map of the U.S. and a list of news events (usually 5). You put the number of the event in the correct state.

4. “Legends”: You must people who died in the past year with what they did. About 5 questions.

5. Editing and headline writing: You’ll be presented with a story of about five or six paragraphs. You need to edit the story for facts, AP style, grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc. And you must write a headline. (The test will give you a “headline count” — like “two lines with a maximum character count of 20 per line.” Just assume that every letter or space in the headline you’re proposing count as one character.) After you finish with the first story, then you do the second story.

Grammar and usage

Many of the questions for this section are recycled year after year. By studying past tests, you can anticipate what you’ll face on Part 1. EditTeach also has exercises to help you brush up on grammar. And there is a helpful (free) online course at NewsU called “Cleaning Your Copy: Grammar, Style and More.”

To brush up on AP style, here is a set of tipsheets covering capitalization, abbreviations, numerals and punctuation. VCU provides all students with access to the AP Stylebook Online.

Current events and geographic knowledge

Study Wikipedia’s entry for 2015; it includes a list of prominent people who have died this year. You also can Google around for “top news stories of 2015” and “notable deaths 2015.”  Moreover, EditTeach has resources on how to brush up on current events.

Download a U.S. map and be able to point out the states where important events happened.

Headline writing

Here’s a tipsheet on writing headlines. You also will find helpful tips from Professor Malcolm Gibson at the University of Kansas. And NewsJack lets you “remix” the stories on a website with your own headlines.

Other parts of the DJNF application

You’ll need:

  • A résumé with links to your online portfolio
  • Links to video, audio or web projects in which you played a key role
  • A 500-word essay “explaining the special skills and qualities you can contribute to a news organization this summer”
  • A transcript
  • Two references (just names, not letters)

You can get help with your résumé and essay from Maggie McDearmon, the Robertson School’s career development adviser. In addition, VCU Career Services has an extensive collection of online resources and a helpful staff of career advisers. (If possible, make an appointment with Kim Hanneman, who specifically serves journalism majors.)

VCU Libraries has assembled a guide on how journalism students can create a digital portfolio of their work.

As you can see, the Dow Jones News Fund internships are for students who already have solid clips, outstanding writing skills, previous internship experience and keen attention to detail. So plan ahead: As freshmen and sophomores, get involved in student media and seek out publishing opportunities. This will position you to apply for the DJNF program as juniors and seniors.

If you can develop an area of expertise, you may have an even better chance of landing a DJNF internship. In your classes and on your own, learn the basics of data journalism and business journalism. You will find a lot of resources — often free — from groups such as NewsU, the Society of Professional JournalistsInvestigative Reporters and Editors Inc., the Online News Association and the National Center for Business Journalism.

Amir Vera
Amir Vera
VCU students who have won Dow Jones internships

Students from the Robertson School have received DJNF internships in each of the past three years. VCU is the only school in Virginia with that distinction.

In the summer of 2013, Amir Vera received a copy-editing internship at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

In the summer of 2014, Colin Kennedy received a digital media internship at The New Haven Register in Connecticut.

And in the summer of 2015, Matt Leonard received a digital media internship at The Denver Post.