City High Senior Thandi Weaver at her 13-week Mentored Internship at the prestigious Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Over the 13-week internship, Thandi accomplished much. She had several articles published in print and on-line, including an article on the Magazine section cover. She did some paid freelance work for the paper when the internship was over and she has even been asked to return for a college internship.
But perhaps the most valuable element of her Post-Gazette experience is that this high-school intern got to work alongside seasoned professionals. As executive editor, Stan Wischnowski sees it, “She had exposure to not just the front liners alone, but she was also meeting with the top editors, like Roberta Zeff who came to us from the NY Times… that sort of exposure from a 27-year NY Times veteran… you just can’t get that anywhere!”
Truth is, most Post-Gazette interns leverage the work skills gained in the newsroom, no matter where life leads them. Mr. Wischnowski loves to tell journalism students, “…even if you’re not going to become a professional journalist, a TV anchor, reporter for a newspaper or an online news guru, the skills that you acquire when you are in a place like this are translatable to whatever path you choose. We’ve had people go on to law school or they become doctors or they run their own businesses… they always come back to us and say how much those skills are so transferable.”
Interestingly, an internship at the Post-Gazette is reserved for college students, many coming from as far away as California or Colorado, and such prestigious schools as Harvard, Berkeley and Notre Dame. City High has the distinction of having the only high school internship at this venerable newspaper. And Thandi did herself proud.
On her first day, she attended the Tuesday planning meeting for the Sunday edition, met her mentor and Post-Gazette Magazine editor Kevin Kirkland, and got her first writing assignment – a book review article. Mr. Kirkland explained how the process worked, how to access the research site and archives, and how to use LIBERCUS (their digital and print news publishing software).
“I looked through the books, contacted some of the authors for additional information, then I put together a description of the book and background on who the author is,” recalls Thandi. “I was also introduced to other people who could help me with the editing and how to get the pictures… and that was all within the first day.”
Thandi Weaver chose City Charter High School over her Carrick High School because of its unconventional approach that encourages students to find and follow their passion. She came to the school with a vision of becoming a writer. “City High definitely focuses on the individuality of students.” She says. “In fact, my favorite thing about City High is that they offer multiple opportunities to each student.”
From L to R: Teresa Lindeman, Managing Editor of News & Features and Thandi Weaver.
Another point of difference — City High makes sure each student is adequately prepared for their 13-week internship in the real-world workplace. Basics like business casual attire, timeliness, collaboration and professional conduct, which is what Teresa Lindeman who manages the whole newsroom at the P-G noticed immediately. “She was quick to put her hand up for things saying, ‘I’m here, I finished this. What else can I do?’ Which is great. She’s a self-starter too. Kevin [Kirkland] would give her books and she would dig right in.”
Beyond those soft skills, Thandi’s City High classes taught her research skills and computer literacy, which came in handy. She also honed her interview techniques in Info Lit class, interviewing a news anchor from Channel 11, who advised her that, ‘It’s not all about writing. I suggest you learn about all the technology that goes into it, as well.’”
So, as she heads off to college shortly to study Journalism, Creative Writing, Communications and Media, and also Computer Science, Thandi Weaver has earned some pretty solid bona fides, which will come in handy. She has applied to at least 10 colleges (hasn’t been rejected by one yet). We can all look forward to the next chapter in her story.