July 01, 2011

Internship Lands Communication Studies Major in the Center of a Major News Story

Burgess, Erik_main

As a senior at Hamline University Erik Burgess never expected that a summer newspaper internship would put him at the center of an international story.

At the Grand Forks Herald, the communication studies major has already covered several major stories for the daily paper. Only a few weeks into his internship, Burgess was sent to Bismarck, North Dakota to cover what would be the start of historic flooding in the state.

“It was exciting, but also a little intimidating,” Burgess said. “I was going out there with a reporter with 20 plus years of experience.”

Clearly the challenge did not faze Burgess who had one of his flood-related stories picked up by the national wire service, the Associated Press. Another story Burgess wrote about a smoking reduction program was also picked up for national syndication.

Later in his internship, Burgess covered even more severe flooding when the town of Minot, North Dakota was devastated by the rising waters. There, he covered the story alongside members of the national media.

“Reporters from the New York Times and Reuters were there. Even the Middle Eastern news channel Al Jazeera sent their English affiliate,” Burgess said. “I was able to network with the Associated Press journalists.”

This is hardly Burgess’ first experience with journalism. The summer before he interned with the Midway Como Monitor and the Longfellow Messenger, both in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Throughout college Burgess worked at Hamline's award-winning student newspaper, the Oracle. As a junior Burgess served as the paper’s editor-in-chief.

“The Oracle is the best learning experience I could have gotten at Hamline,” Burgess said. “David Hudson, the Oracle advisor and Hamline English professor, has been a great resource.”

“The communication studies faculty have been very helpful,” Burgess continued. “My advisor Patricia Palmerton has really encouraged me to pursue internships and other opportunities.”

All of this experience should prove extremely valuable after graduation when Burgess plans to pursue a career as professional journalist.