News

Spectrum’s Intern Program
Kickstarted by Foundation Grant

By Susan Hassler, Editor-in-Chief, IEEE Spectrum

When I first joined IEEE Spectrum, Ken Foster, one of Spectrum’s most dedicated editorial advisory board
members, called me up with an idea. Why not, he said, ask the IEEE Foundation to sponsor a formal internship for journalists eager to specialize in engineering and technology reporting? He agreed to help shepherd our proposal through the grant process, and the rest, as they say, is history. A winner of numerous journalism awards, IEEE Spectrum is one of the leading magazines in technology journalism. Its stature makes it possible for Spectrum to fulfill an educational role as well, by training young journalists in state-of-the-art technology journalism. One effective way to accomplish this is to have young journalists work closely with experienced editors to produce high-quality materials for publication–in print and online– an activity that has clear benefits both for the magazine and for the journalists themselves.

So, in 2000, the IEEE Foundation approved a three-year grant to sponsor the “IEEE Spectrum Journalism Internship.” The project served two needs: it helped IEEE Spectrum do additional reporting by providing it with additional editorial staffing, and it provided young journalists with a significant writing and editing opportunity.

We always planned, in part, to measure the success of the project by looking at the success of our
interns—did they find permanent journalism jobs or consistent freelance work? Success was almost immediately apparent: Of the original group of interns, one went on to the Carnegie Mellon public
affairs department, and another to NASA Tech Briefings.

And after the IEEE Foundation grant ended, we continued to sponsor interns of high caliber, already
attracted to Spectrum by word-of-mouth recommendations of our internship program. To date, several
former interns have joined the staff at Spectrum, notably Senior Editor Erico Guizzo, and other former
interns have moved on to become writers and editors at Scientific American, New Scientist, Discover
Magazine, MIT Technology Review
, and the New York Times. One became a Fulbright scholar, studying
space science in Russia.

While we would have eventually established an internship program on our own, the grant we received from the IEEE Foundation enabled us to set up a strong, stable program that has produced quantifiable, long-term results. IEEE, and Spectrum, have made a valuable contribution to the technology journalism community through this effort

IEEE Spectrum Journalism Intern Holli Riebeek is now
the Education and Outreach Specialist at NASA Goddard
Space Flight Center (Sigma Space). In 2003, she proudly
shared her experiences interning at IEEE Spectrum with
2000-2004 IEEE Foundation President and 1989 IEEE
President Emerson Pugh.

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