Gaining Career Perspectives Halfway Around the World
Thanks to a grant from the Freeman Foundation, scholarship recipient Carter Diggs – a junior in the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media – had the rare opportunity recently to work as a professional journalist during an internship in Tokyo, Japan.
The two-month internship allowed Diggs, a lifelong resident of Oxford, to experience what life is like for journalists working overseas, and it gave him a new perspective on what type of career he wants to pursue after he graduates from Ole Miss.
“My Tokyo experience likely saved me from going down the wrong career path,” Diggs said. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue pursuing a journalism degree and had looked at other options. Now, I’m certain journalism is for me.”
During his internship with the magazine Tokyo Weekender, Diggs attended and photographed events, and he managed the publication’s website and smartphone applications. He also wrote articles for Tokyo Weekender’s website and had some of his articles published in the magazine, which is Japan’s oldest English publication.
“My internship definitely enhanced my resume and portfolio, and the skills I learned from my co-workers there are invaluable,” he said.
Working as a professional journalist with a media outlet halfway around the world from Oxford is an experience that cannot be replicated on a college campus, said Charles Mitchell, associate professor of journalism at UM.
“What a student learns during an internship is just as important as his or her time in a classroom,” Mitchell said. “Internships are strongly recommended and even required in one School of Journalism and New Media major. Internships are crucial because they allow students to become immersed in a career field and gauge whether it’s a good fit.”
Mitchell said scholarships provide the means for students to pursue their college studies and perform well, which often opens the door to additional enriching opportunities such as internships.
“As with all education efforts, internships are becoming more expensive,” he said. “Very few employers pay interns, and so just as with scholarships for tuition, assistance for study-via-internship is significant because it allows students to have learning experiences they otherwise might not be able to afford.”
The Freeman Foundation grant program, based in Stowe, Vermont, began at UM in the summer of 2018, when 17 Ole Miss students obtained grants for internships. This summer, Diggs joined 19 other Ole Miss students who were awarded Freeman grants and worked for companies in East Asia.
The program, administered at UM by the Croft Institute for International Studies, allows selected undergraduates to complete a summer internship of at least eight weeks. Each student receives $5,000 from the Freeman Foundation grant and an additional $2,500 provided by the university’s Office of Global Engagement and the students’ respective Ole Miss school(s) or college.
This grant enables the Croft Institute and other participating campus units to deliver on the university’s commitment to educate and engage global citizens and to support experiential learning, two core principles in the university’s Flagship Forward strategic plan. Students chosen for UM Experiential Learning in East Asia will learn how a foreign culture affects the work environment and help prepare them to succeed.
But to first get to the point of applying for an internship grant, scholarships at Ole Miss have allowed Diggs to concentrate on completing his college education and establishing career goals instead of being distracted by financial matters. His scholarships include Academic Excellence 9, Eagle Scout Award and a Bledsoe scholarship. He also earned a Mississippi Eminent Scholars Grant.
“My yearlong plan includes contributing more to the Ole Miss’ journalism scene and networking with my peers,” he said. “I have joined the NewsWatch staff this semester and have gotten a broad range of experience through that work. Over the next few months, I hope to land internships for both the winter and summer breaks.
“Scholarships enable me and other young people to reach our full educational potential and pursue our dream careers without the burden of paying back student loans. Too many bright, hardworking Mississippians grow up in poverty and college is out of reach. Scholarships help give students the chance they deserve to succeed in life.”
By Jonathan Scott