Greenlee professors bring externship experiences to the classroom

CATEGORIES: Faculty & Staff, News
Grace Provenzano in front of CBC Toronto
Grace Provenzano, assistant teaching professor in the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, did an externship at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Toronto in August 2019.

All Greenlee majors must pursue internships to put their skills in journalism, advertising and public relations into practice. Some of their professors are also finding ways to get similar experiences through professional development opportunities.

Andy King, assistant professor in advertising and public relations, and Grace Provenzano, assistant teaching professor in journalism, reported for duty at externships last summer to get a firsthand look at the latest in industry.

Andy King, Greenlee School assistant professor

King and Provenzano were recipients of Greenlee’s Jack Shelley Professional Development Award, which monetarily supports faculty as they complete a summer temporary position or externship in the field.

The award was established in honor of the late Jack Shelley, an Iowa State University journalism professor from 1965 until his retirement in 1982. Prior to joining Iowa State’s faculty, the Iowa journalism legend was a World War II combat reporter and longtime WHO news director. Shelley was known for applying his years of news experience in the classroom as he mentored hundreds of journalism students.

Experiencing agency life

King secured his externship with Meyocks, a full-service branding, advertising and marketing agency, located in West Des Moines, Iowa. King pitched the idea of a six-week externship to Meyocks’ president Doug Jeske, a Greenlee alumnus and advisory council member.

“I wanted to work in a place that had all of the characteristics of a place where our students would be likely to seek an internship or a job, and Meyocks had that. I learned new ways for students to take what they learn in the classroom and use it in an applied setting,” said King, who teaches public relations and advertising courses.

King said the experience helped him stay on top of current trends, but also allowed him to understand the realities facing communications professionals who are serving the needs of clients.

Through the experience, King said he also has a better understanding of what it’s like to walk in students’ shoes as they balance part-time internships with other priorities.

“Another thing I realized during the externship is just how hard our undergraduates work when they complete an internship,” he said.

Adventures in broadcast news

Provenzano did her externship with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), located in Toronto. CBC was Provenzano’s top choice because it could provide a different perspective on international newsgathering than her prior experience working in broadcast news in Europe.

headshot of Grace Provenzano
Grace Provenzano, Greenlee assistant teaching professor

“It was a dream externship because it allowed me this extraordinary opportunity to walk into CBC headquarters in Toronto and work directly with top journalists. While observing the production of several CBC live news programs, I became more keenly aware of the differentiation between misinformation and disinformation in the international newsgathering process. This is now the focus of my research and the subject of a new chapter in my textbook,” Provenzano said.

Provenzano shadowed producers, reporters and writers during the several days she spent in the newsroom, an experience she has been eager to share with students learning the fundamentals of reporting, writing and disseminating news.

“What I am looking forward to teaching in the classroom is that good journalism is still very much alive and well, you just have to know what it looks like,” Provenzano said. “It all comes down to discovering a good story and then finding accurate information from credible sources.”

Students working toward careers in media and communications can count on needing to be able to quickly adapt as they become part of a rapidly changing industry. Opportunities like these provide another way for Greenlee faculty to better prepare them.

“It’s really important f you are teaching news journalism that you keep active in the business,” Provenzano said. “I continue to practice as a professional journalist while teaching, but to go out and see the top professionals work their craft is just an extraordinary opportunity. I am very grateful for the Jack Shelley Award.”

By Olivia Benjamin