NU-Q students intern at Forbes, AJ+, Al Jazeera
This spring students at Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) are completing their 10-week journalism residency programs at major news, media, and strategic communication organizations in the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East.
The internships often represent the students’ first extended exposure to a professional setting, thereby helping to clarify for them the next steps in their careers.
“NU-Q’s journalism and strategic communication residency requirement enables students to learn professional skills and life lessons that can be developed only in the demanding, fast-paced business environment,” said Everette E. Dennis, dean and CEO of NU-Q. “The challenges and tasks they are presented with help them apply the theories they have learned in class to actual cases.”
This year, students are completing residencies with media organizations that include, in addition to AJ+ and Forbes, Medill News Service in Washington DC; Ogilvy & Mather and Al Jazeera English in London, and Embassy of the State of Qatar in London; Brookings Institution and Teneo Blue Rubicon in Doha.
Oma Seddiq, a junior at NU-Q was determined to work in business journalism for her residency and, while still in Doha, she contacted Forbes magazine directly about her residency. Forbes responded by assigning her an assignment calculating the net worth of Stephen T. Winn, founder and CEO of RealPage, a firm that provides rental management software in the United States. After completing the assignment successfully, Seddiq was offered an internship with the publication.
Since starting her residency in January, Seddiq has worked on a number projects, including compiling billionaire profiles for Forbes’ 2018 richest people in the world, and stories related to that such as the planned closing of Toys R US and its potential impact on those who own toy companies.
Seddiq said NU-Q classes covering enterprise reporting, data visualization, and statistics helped prepare her for the business journalism beat. So far, her Forbes training has taught her how to develop sources, speak to analysts and, most importantly, elicit information from those who might be hesitant to share.
“I found that learning how to communicate was important because some billionaires were reluctant to be on the list and didn’t want to confirm their data,” said Seddiq. “Others really wanted to be on the list but wanted a higher net worth listing than could be backed with documents.”
On the other side of the United States, Sara Al-Ansari is spending her residency with AJ+, Al Jazeera’s digital platform in San Francisco.
During her time with AJ+, Al-Ansari has already picked up on news pitching and script writing skills, something which she said was a “main concern” before starting. “Now I really enjoy pitching stories, I’ve become good at it,” she said.
In addition to learning to enjoy pitching stories, she is also writing, researching, and editing her own short news videos on a wide range of subjects, including the longest running peaceful protest in U.S. history, the unexplained death of thousands of starfish in Britain, and the recent launch of Scientology’s new TV network.
Her AJ+ internship has also helped her confirm that she wants to pursue a journalism career. But her next stop is likely graduate school, with a focus on religion and media.
The 10-week media residency is a graduation requirement for all NU-Q students majoring in journalism and strategic communication. It serves as an important learning component where students can explore media career opportunities and work alongside professionals in the industry, earning them real-world experience to propel their careers.