The best photojournalism internships will give future photojournalists an authentic experience of what it is like to work in the photojournalism field. The internships should be designed to produce a portfolio of work the photographer can use after the internship to get a full-time job. There also should be sufficient access to good-quality, commonly used technology, such as cameras and editing software. Schools and professional organizations are a good resource for finding reputable internships that will truly contribute to career development.
Unpaid photojournalism internships and volunteer work can be just as valuable as paid internships, because it is the quality of the experience and the work produced that matters most. Future employers will be unconcerned with whether an intern was paid. It is more important to make sure that potential photojournalism internships offer interns several opportunities to take tell stories through their own photographs. Good editors and advisers should be willing to help interns put together a strong portfolio.
Gaining work experience through internships can require spending time on tasks that are of low value to the intern, and such tasks are to be expected. That said, these tasks should not come at the expense of time to complete meaningful assignments and edit good photographs. When applying for an internship, it's a good idea to ask what proportion of interns’ time is spent on various tasks.
Some photojournalism internships require experience before the internship begins, so interns should be sure to apply where the requirements match their background. Such requirement might include a certain academic standing, a certain number of courses in related subjects, or even samples or a portfolio that is submitted with the application. One should try to find photojournalism internships with newspapers, magazines, websites, television networks or other organizations that would be ideal places to make a future career. It should not be assumed, however, that the internship will lead to immediate employment with that organization. Good photojournalism internships will provide experience that can be used with a wide range of employers.
Professional organizations related to photography, news and communications are generally good resources for information about photojournalism internships. Students should check with the internships office at their high school or university. If such an office does not exist, then the department heads for journalism, communications, art and other related departments would be the next best resource.
Many opportunities for photojournalism internships are scheduled to coincide with the school year schedule, lasting the length of a spring, summer or fall semester. Summer internships can be more competitive because of a higher number of applicants. Other internships can start at any time, with duration of a few months to a year.