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New York interns gain hands-on experience

Sept. 16, 2003

By Cindy Kittner, reporter

Students wanting to trade Valley Mills Drive for Times Square and Cameron Park for Central Park can find refuge in Baylor's communication program in New York City - if they act now.

The semester-long study includes six credit hours, an independent study and an internship at various companies in the Big Apple. Applications for the spring semester program were due Friday but still are being accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Dr. Joe Kickasola, assistant professor of communication studies, conducts the program that is designed to immerse students in an educational experience in America's cultural capital.

Students usually intern three to four days a week, spend six to nine hours in classroom lectures, work on independent studies that relate to their major or internship and take field trips to explore the city during free time. Program members said their schedules were packed with work and readings for class, but they still managed to absorb the cultural experience.

'I decided the New York City program was the best opportunity for me to get some hands-on experience in a huge market and possibly shadow someone in the position I hope to acquire someday,' Lacie Lowry, a Dallas senior, said.

Lowry landed two internships, and she works six days a week. Lowry is a production assistant for Nickelodeon Games and Sports located in the MTV building, and she also works choosing video highlights from sporting events for Madison Square Garden's Sports Desk.

'The purpose of the internship is to give the students an inside view of the working world, and I believe they all feel they are getting that,' Kickasola said. 'Our strength is the placement of students in internships while they are in school, taking classes and receiving academic credit.'

Many students choose the program because of the variety of positions available.

'New York has a lot of opportunities for communication and film majors,' Charissa Imken, an Austin junior, said. 'I was excited about the fact that I could not only live in this great city but be able to work with a company and possibly make good connections for the future.'

Imken applied to more than 30 companies and is an intern in the production department of Sesame Street.

'I think mine [internship] is pretty cool actually,' Imken said. 'Everyone is incredibly laid back, and where else do you get to see Elmo on a daily basis?'

Tamara Schmidt, an El Campo junior, said there isn't an easy place to get an internship in New York City because companies are highly selective and there are thousand of applicants.

'I think it all boils down to how hard you pursue what you want,' Schmidt said. 'Joe [Kickasola] was able to help people find internships by networking with alumni and other people he knows in New York.'

Life in New York City isn't as glamorous as it sounds. Students there live in dorm rooms smaller than those in Collins Residence Hall and share four bathrooms with more than 20 people.

'We each share rooms, and though they're small, it's a cool Real World sort of environment because there's 22 of us that are sharing bathrooms, living area and kitchen,' Imken said.

The building is full of history because it was a premiere theatre club in the early 1900s where historical figures such as Mark Twain, John Wayne and Fred Astaire lived.

'The Lambs [her building] is centrally located a half block off Times Square,' Lowry said. 'We go to museums, Central Park, musicals, comedy clubs and more.'

Lowry said she was excited when Jordan Richard, a fellow Baylor student and Good Morning America intern who helps to plan guest appearances, got her on the list to meet Hugh Jackman.

'Sometimes I think it is those who are at ABC, where they get to see celebrities, that have the coolest internships. But I think every internship has its days that are really exciting,' Schmidt said.

For more information, e-mail Kickasola at Joe_Kickasola@baylor.edu or check out the Communication Studies department at www.baylor.edu/comm_studies/ for an application.