The Hofstra journalism program has a long way to go
The strongest emotion I feel knowing that I’m graduating in only a few weeks is relief. Of course, finding a way to make a living is causing me a lot of stress. However, what has caused me the most stress over the past three years is the fact that I’ve lived almost every day feeling as if the time I’ve spent as a journalism major in the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication (LHSC) has been the one of the biggest wastes of time and money I’ve ever experienced.
Though the new leadership in the Herbert School is creating change for the better, there are issues in the journalism program that need to be more of a priority to the school.
As a journalism major, the majority of the classes I took turned out to be “workshop” classes: classes in which I was expected to sometimes have conferences with professors but was otherwise told to do other work. I should not have had to pay around $4,500 a class for me to sit and do work for other classes multiple times.
With the exception of a couple classes, I was not actually taught anything in these journalism classes. I was simply expected to write articles and take pictures and video. For a school that claims to be one of the best schools of communication in the country, this is not the experience I expected to have. I learned more about journalism ethics, practices and writing at The Hofstra Chronicle than I learned in all of my journalism writing classes combined.
In addition, one of the things that seemed to be pushed as a journalism student coming to Hofstra is the fact that the school is so close to New York City and that there are many great internship opportunities. However, what you quickly find out is that the school is of absolutely no help when it comes to finding these internships. Going into an internship is a relatively blind process and you’re expected to have three internship credits to graduate with a journalism degree. This differs from the Radio, Television and Film (RTVF) program, which allows students to take a one-credit class if they cannot get an internship or if they can’t afford an internship.
In a lot of cases, students are unable to get a paid internship before having an unpaid one. This is an unfortunate cycle that many students get caught in, because many can’t afford to take an unpaid internship but also can’t get a paid internship because they don’t have the required experience. As someone who started interning as an unpaid intern, I can attest to the fact that it’s expensive. I was lucky enough to be reimbursed for my Long Island Railroad (LIRR) tickets and meals when I was at my unpaid internship, and I personally could not have afforded to have taken an internship that wouldn’t have reimbursed me.
LIRR tickets for two days a week alone total $50, plus the subway fees and meals. In a month, students could spend upward of $250 for an unpaid internship – an internship that is not only unpaid, but that the student is actually paying Hofstra about $1,500 per credit for. If you work for around four months, you’re putting an extra $1,000 onto the already lofty cost of attending this university.
Hofstra should understand that getting an internship is difficult, and though it is up to the student to participate in organizations such as The Chronicle to gain valuable experience outside of the classroom, sometimes the best they can do is get an unpaid internship – which many cannot afford. If Hofstra were to offer reimbursements or scholarships for students taking unpaid internships, or if they offered something like the RTVF program – an opportunity for students to take a class instead – this could help immensely.
Interning has given me some of the best experiences I could have asked for, and it’s introduced me to what I want to do post-graduation: work in social media. What’s frustrating about my newfound career path is that Hofstra has little in the school of communication to assist with people who, like me, want to go into a newer field that has a lot of job openings.
Part of this may be due to the fact that all of the school’s time and money is focused on broadcast and hard news, not preparing its students for these new-age positions. There is one social media class in LHSC, which is not enough to provide students with the tools they need for a job as a social media manager or in a social media marketing position. LHSC should consider offering more social media courses or potentially partnering with the Frank G. Zarb School of Business to do a social media marketing concentration or degree to better prepare students for a career that has quickly evolved into one of the more prevalent media jobs.
Looking back on my time at Hofstra, I am grateful for two things – my friends and The Chronicle. The Chronicle is the reason I have turned into the journalist I am today, and it most definitely played a role in me getting my internships. When I think of why I’m living my dream as a social media intern at one of the top radio stations in the country, it’s not because of Hofstra. I came into Hofstra as a good writer and I honestly sometimes feel as if my writing has gotten worse since getting here. So, it wasn’t my journalism classes that helped me get where I am today.
I’m where I am today – graduating in less than a month after completing my degree in three years, interning for Elvis Duran and the Morning Show and serving as copy chief of The Hofstra Chronicle – because I push myself and work hard. What hasn’t pushed me or challenged me at all is the Hofstra journalism program.