Inayat Singh, a fourth-year journalism student, writes about his life-changing experience working for the Parliamentary bureau of the Canadian Press.

I came to Carleton mostly on a whim, depending on what Google and the university’s website told me. All I knew was there was a canal and a river, everything was either idyllic and green or a snowy wonderland, the journalism program was the oldest in the country and Ottawa was Canada’s capital.

Luckily for me, it turned out that I liked canals and rivers and found snow quite fascinating. I also enjoyed writing about politics, and there’s really no better place for that in Canada than Ottawa.

When the journalism school’s internships program opened for applications, I knew where I wanted to work: the Parliamentary bureau of the Canadian Press, the country’s largest newswire service.

CP’s Ottawa bureau has made a name for itself for strong daily coverage along with “enterprise” reporting – more in-depth investigations using tools like access to information legislation.

CP also had a Carleton connection at the time, having just got out of year-long fight over an access to information request with the university. The newswire had uncovered a donor agreement involving Carleton’s political management program, which set off a debate over academic freedom and the influence of donors on the university curriculum.

The journalism gods were smiling at me, because I managed to land an interview at CP. Trying not to shake with nervousness, I rambled on about my experience working at the Charlatan, Carleton’s student paper, and then quoted at length from the federal budget that had just been released the previous day. They took mercy on me when I started talking about the more obscure pieces of legislation and hired me for a two-week internship in December.

Now, a two-week internship at CP is nothing like journalism school. Being a newswire, the standards for accuracy and grammar are sky-high, deadlines for every story are “yesterday” and you better know your CP style – because the guy editing your story actually wrote the latest CP style guide.

For my first few stories, the bureau chief himself came over to my desk and edited my story line by line with me. It was a bit nerve-wracking to have one of Canada’s top political journalists rip apart my lede, but those few editing sessions were probably worth several months of university education.

I managed to get several published clippings while working at CP. A story I wrote about a cat sanctuary on Parliament Hill was picked up CBC News and became one of the most popular stories on their Ottawa website.

While the school offers placements at prominent newsrooms like CP’s, their editors are looking for students with strong real-world journalism skills and published clippings. In addition to my courses, I found my published stories and work experience as a news editor at the Charlatan was what impressed my interviewers the most.

More than anything, the internship allowed me to learn from established and highly knowledgeable journalists out in the field, which is good preparation when you finally graduate and get out into the real world.

Submitted by Inayat Singh, a fourth-year journalism student.

Many programs at Carleton offer work placements to provide students with hands-on experience in their field of study. Some programs offer Co-operative education programs, which run longer than the typical internship. For more information on Co-op and Career Services at Carleton, visit carleton.ca/cc


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