January 11, 2006

College offers new internship program in Nashville

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Students at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the music industry this summer when the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts starts a new internship program in Nashville, Tenn.

The Nashville Studies Program represents the second straight year in which the college opened the doors of a new city to students. Last year, the college kicked off a media business internship in New York City. The college also assists students with internships in Chicago and Hollywood.

The college also hired a full-time coordinator to manage its growing internship efforts. Krissi Geary-Boehm started work Nov. 15. The SIUC graduate facilitates the scholarship and internship programs, which are critical to students' resumes as they enter the media industry.

Each year, about 50 students take part in the Hollywood and Chicago internship programs, which pair students with firms that parallel their career interests. Six students went to New York last year, during that program's inaugural phase, and about 10 will go this year.

All the internships provide course credit, and some are paid. Students must write a paper on their experiences when they return to the classroom.

College officials say the new Nashville program combined with the others will make internships more accessible for all students.

"Once we get them all up and running we might be able to get 80 students out to an internship each year," said Gary Kolb, associate dean and professor in the college. "Internships are important because students learn different things. They see the practical application of knowledge to the real world. It allows the student to really understand how the industry functions, as opposed to theory."

Students traditionally receive particular types of industry experience in each city. Hollywood, for example, provides film and television industry work while Chicago tends toward advertising. The New York internships focus on the media business and corporate operations.

Nashville – perhaps not surprisingly – will give students up-close experience in the music industry. Interns may work in music publishing, trade associations, law offices or copyright management, for example. Some even may work for or alongside recording artists.

"If I say ‘Nashville' you automatically think music. That's a really good recruiting tool for us," Geary-Boehm said. "The music business in Nashville actually spawns all the other media industry there. This is a wonderful way for students and the school to get their names known."

The internships will not be the first time the University has taken advantage of its close proximity to the Music City. For years it has offered a Nashville studies course that introduces students to the media and music business through classroom and fieldwork both in Carbondale and Nashville.

Officials expect about a dozen students to take part in the new Nashville internship program this summer. They will be housed at Vanderbilt University close to "Music Row," where most of the city's recording and publishing firms reside.

"Some of the students will actually be able to walk to work," Kolb said.

Kolb said Saluki alumni have been instrumental in setting up the various programs in different cities. "They're excited to be able to help," Kolb said. "They feel really good about what they're doing."

Providing high quality, progressive undergraduate education is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University if following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.