NU-Q Students Intern at Qatari Media Companies

May 03, 2020

While the COVID-19 pandemic may have changed the course of NU-Q’s Journalism and Strategic Communication Residency program, forcing students to complete their media internships remotely, it has also provided the opportunity to learn about crisis management, health communications, and the importance of factual reporting.

Northwestern’s Journalism and Strategic Communication Residency program is an integral part of the journalism and strategic communication academic curriculum. In their third year of study, students are provided a 10-week internship with a media organization of their choice where they gain professional work experience and training from experts in the field.

 While some students travel abroad for this experience, others choose to work locally. This year, students spent their residencies with Al Jazeera English, Hamad Medical Corporation, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Portland Communications.

 “I am impressed by how well our students performed on their residencies despite the unusual circumstances,” said Mary Dedinsky, associate professor and director of the Journalism and Strategic Communication Program. “They displayed resilience and professionalism – continued to complete their assignments and contribute their skills to their organizations. 

Aldana Al Jaidah and Haya Abu Ajeeneh interned with the international strategic communications firm Portland Communications. Assigned to work on accounts in different sectors, they have each had their own unique experience.

Al Jaidah’s day started with a media monitoring report on industry and trade news, followed by a more specific report on the global and local pandemic updates. “I worked on corporate accounts whose businesses may be compromised or affected by the COVID-19, so my daily reports often inform the client on what they should expect from a media and business perspective,” she said.

While working remotely, Al Jaidah said, “my schedule continued to be very busy, but I was able to adapt, and I’m thankful for the first few weeks when I got to better understand how the firm works and meet my colleagues – it definitely made the transition easier.”

Her colleague and classmate, Abu Ajeeneh, echoed a similar sentiment. “While I was quite disappointed to have to work from home, I have been able to approach this change positively and make the most of my experience working remotely. Thanks for the technology available today, things have been much easier,” she said.

Abu Ajeeneh worked on government communications accounts, where she provided daily monitoring reports on the industry, regional and global politics, as well as COVID-19 specific updates and social media content.

Meanwhile, Shaikha AlDosari spent her residency with the communications department at Al Jazeera English where she was involved in strategy and campaign development projects, as well as media monitoring and planning. 

“As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, many of our projects were put on hold and we shifted to Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, trying to find ways to raise awareness and educate people about the pandemic,” she said. “This changed my perspective on public relations and strategic communications, as I now understand a media organization’s role and responsibility to inform the public, raise awareness about important matters. I didn’t think that by the end of my residency I would have gained experience on how to respond to a global pandemic from a media communications perspective.”

Despite this year’s unique global circumstance, the residency continued to be a rigorous program, designed to help students sharpen their communication skills and provide them with a unique opportunity to experience work in a professional environment. It also enabled students to network with industry professionals and publish their work with respected media organizations around the world.