INTERNSHIPS IN SPOTLIGHT | CCOM position cut

This story is part of a series evaluating the internship coordinator position in the College of Communication.

Part One | Internships in the spotlight—CCOM position cut

Part Two | Students, Alum Petition CCOM

Part Three | Internship Coordinator’s Contract to Expire

Part Four | Coordinator Seeks Legal Counsel

Jill McCarter | News Editor | jmccarte@butler.edu

Butler University’s College of Communication will not fund the internship coordinator position next year.

Program directors will be responsible for overseeing the students in each of the college’s six programs.

“Internship coordination will revert back to the way that we’ve been doing it since 1975,” CCOM Interim Dean Bill Neher said.

Under the current curriculum, an internship is required of all journalism and strategic communication majors and is recommended for students in the creative media and entertainment program.

The internship coordinator currently oversees these internship experiences of more than 60 creative media and entertainment, journalism and strategic communication students.

The internship program was created more than 20 years ago by Mary Ellen Weitekamp.

Weitekamp worked as a full-time employee of the university for more than 20 years before retiring in July 2009.

Before the college’s creation in 2010, the internship program was housed in the Eugene S. Pulliam School of Journalism.

“In these fields, you can’t get a job without an internship,” Weitekamp said. “And for businesses, you can’t get an intern if you don’t know who to go through. We worked to make sure all the pieces fit.”

As the current internship coordinator, Ed Kanis conducts interviews with interns and with the providers twice each semester and evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the internship and the students, assesses possible sites and maintains a database of the past internship providers.

“I do everything in my power to make sure that students have someone to talk to if a problem comes up,” Kanis said. “It’s important to have someone on your side during an internship.”

Providing students with an opportunity to land the internships they need to successfully land a job is the primary concern for some program directors impacted by the decision to cut the program.

“If an internship site sees that another school’s system is easy to navigate and that there is one person to make sure they can get an intern, they’re going to say, ‘Forget Butler, let’s get an intern from Ball State,’” Nancy Whitmore, journalism program director, said. “We’ll go by the wayside.”

The faculty and staff of the journalism program are on the same page, Whitmore said, and they understand that internships are a critical part of a student’s résumé.

“If the internship program as it stands now goes away, the journalism program will pick up the pieces and start over because the students need it,” Whitmore said. “It would be such a significant burden.”

Kenneth Creech, the creative media and entertainment program director, said the internship coordinator position has been valuable for students in the program.

“We talk about knowledge in action all the time in this college, and this is not encouraging that ideal,” Creech said.

Students in the strategic communication program are required to complete an internship, and Mark Rademacher, an assistant professor, said that students are seeing the value of the internships and are completing two or three before they graduate.

“However the dean decides to structure how it’s done is completely up to the dean, but I think that employers have seen that Butler’s program is so wonderful that they will continue to use our students either way,” Rademacher said.

When Weitekamp held the position, she was also working as an administrative assistant. Her position was funded through the school of journalism.

The position has been funded by the provost for the past three years and not from the college’s fund, Neher said. Neher refused to comment on where Weitekamp’s salary went when she retired.

Interim Provost Kathryn Morris declined to comment, saying that since the issue was about a specific college, the administrators within the college should address it.

Whitmore said that it was her understanding that Morris told Neher to discuss the matter on a collegewide level. Both Whitmore and Creech said that the college has not met to discuss the position’s future.

“I don’t know what discussion we could have,” Neher said.

Neher said that the internship experience for the students would be identical with or without the position.

Senior public relations major Emily Elliott credits the opportunity for her experience at Conrad Indianapolis, Danica Racing and the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association to Kanis and the guidance he’s provided.

“If the administration took the time to realize that this is what is best for students, I have a feeling people would be talking about it,” Elliott said. “But no one seems to have realized that.”

Those at the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association, an internship site for many Butler students, think the decision to not fund the position is not in the best interest of students or internship sites.

“Internships are really like training runs for a marathon career,” said Chris Gahl, ICVA vice president of marketing and communications. “It doesn’t seem like that value is realized by everyone at the university.”

The internship experience would most certainly not be the same if Kanis didn’t keep the position, said Bob Schultz, the vice president of Borshoff, a popular internship site for students.

“What you would lose is Butler’s calling card,” Schultz said. “Right now, you have something that sets the university apart from every other school in Indiana, and you are running the risk of losing that.”

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