Journalism students experience a range of career opportunities through field placements

Before they graduate, students in the Journalism – Mass Media program at Durham College (DC) take advantage of an invaluable opportunity for experiential learning.

At the end of their second year, students must complete a seven-week placement where they can apply their multi-faceted skills to one of many possible career options. While some students go to traditional media outlets like newspapers, others take what they’ve learned to a wide range of settings, from non-profit organizations to government offices and beyond.

Read on to learn about some of the placement experiences enjoyed by the Journalism class of 2024.

  • Simone Traviss, Friends of Second Marsh (sustainability sector)

    Simone Traviss wanted to be close to nature, so she chose to do her placement with Friends of Second Marsh, a conservation and environmental protection group in Oshawa.

    “This is a very well-suited placement for me because I’m interested in nature and the environment. I can go out onto the wetland at least once a week, sometimes more,” Traviss said.

    Her journalism skills helped her to create professional social media posts and write small stories and blogs for her placement.

    “I’ve also been writing some monthly articles that get posted on the Durham Region website.”

  • Clayton DeMaine, True North (digital media)

    Clayton DeMaine decided to take the path of a traditional journalist by completing an internship at True North, a Canadian digital media platform.

    “Right from the start of my schooling I wanted to join True North,” said DeMaine, noting that he went into journalism with the goal of being the change he wanted to see within the industry.

    DeMaine is hopeful that with the skills he has gained in journalism and his determination to improve his writing and reporting, he will be able to continue working with True North.

  • Andre Spence, Arena Lacrosse League (professional sports)

    Andre Spence pursued a placement with the Arena Lacrosse League as an in-house sports reporter.

    “This placement kind of fell into my lap,” Spence said. “I was writing a story about them and then I met the Commissioner, and he just offered it to me and I saw it as an opportunity.”

    The lessons Spence learned in the Journalism program allowed him to complete his assignments quickly while maintaining a high level of quality.

    “Nobody wants to know the score the day after. They want to know within the last couple of minutes. I had to make sure I made my posts as quick as I could and that they looked good.”

  • Gage Patte, Region of Durham (municipal government)

    Gage Patte opted to explore municipal government through a role with the Region of Durham.

    “I do social media messaging, public service announcements, and newsletters for various significant dates,” said Patte, who turned his role with the Region into an internship opportunity.

    “I’ve made the decision to branch away from journalism and go into communications.”

  • Chris Schnedler, Their Opportunity (non-profit)

    When considering his placement, Chris Schnedler wanted to utilize his writing, photography and people skills at a non-profit organization.

    He wound up at Their Opportunity, an organization that educates, uplifts and supports children to overcome barriers through the strength of sport and generosity.

    Noting that his role was more communications focused, Schnedler used his journalism skills to conduct interviews, talk with people and create videos.

    “I host fundraisers, galas and sporting events throughout the community and get kids into sports. I work with a smaller team compared to a typical newsroom, but I am a lot more involved in the work.”

By complementing their classroom learning with seven weeks in a professional workplace setting, our graduates will enter the competitive job market with an edge.

** This blog was written by two Journalism students – Branden Rushton and Bhavya Shah – who completed their placement with the Communications and Marketing team at Durham College.

It’s never too late to start a new career – Pivoting to PR and Communications at DC

Student spotlight – CLAUDIA NOSSEIR

After a long break from work to raise her family, Claudia Nosseir found herself at a fork in the road. Looking for a different direction from her original career path of psychology, Claudia decided returning to school was the best option.

Originally from Toronto, she explored many schools and was thrilled when her research led her to Durham College’s PR and Strategic Communications Advanced Diploma.

While her children thought it was funny that she was going back to school, she wanted to show them that it is never too late to achieve whatever you want. The three of them now study together!

We caught up with Claudia to learn more about her program, life and next steps.

Why did you decide to go back to school?

I felt it was the right time to complete a program I had been interested in for many years. I was incredibly intimidated entering a college program at this stage of my life, but the staff at DC were my cheerleading squad. Every time I would feel overwhelmed with the many responsibilities I was juggling, there would be someone there helping me back up and encouraging me to continue – always with a ‘yes you can, and you will’ attitude.

Why did you choose Public Relations and Strategic Communications at DC?

I was very particular about the college I chose and felt that Durham College was the right fit for my professional development. In Toronto, there are many communications options, but I was impressed with the curriculum and field placements the program at DC offered.

Within three months of being at school, I applied to the work-study program. I landed a part-time job – which has led to full-time summer employment – on the social media team in the college’s Communications and Marketing department. I was thrilled to be part of their team as this was the perfect complement to my studies. Just by being in the PR and Strategic Communications program, so many doors have already opened, confirming that I made the right decision to choose this program over others I had considered.

How do you balance school with your busy family life?

It’s not easy! I have many things on the go all the time, and I did struggle with time management at first. So, I took a Time Management webinar through the Student Academic Learning Services, and it provided me with strategies that I have used to be more efficient and it worked.

DC is a one-stop shop for your needs. They know what the students need and provide it. As a mature mom, I was very impressed with the college’s services, such as wellness supports and the financial aid office, which made the transition so seamless for me.

Why PR and Strategic Communications?

I chose PR and Strategic Communications because I had taken on various comms roles, such as writing speeches for others, editing, and presenting, during my previous work and volunteer experiences. I started to see a theme in what others came to me for, so I decided to explore this career path more and further develop the skills I already had.

Would you recommend the PR and Strategic Communications program to others?

Absolutely. I made the correct decision in choosing to take this program at DC. I am entering my second year and can’t wait to learn more. The support system in this program is amazing. My knowledge base for communications has increased significantly in just one year, as has my writing. The courses have been interesting and engaging and the material is very relevant and exciting. In addition, they have an impressive contact list for field placement partners, so I feel secure in the knowledge that I will be working as soon as I complete the program.

What advice do you have for other students who return to school later in life?

As I entered my first year, I saw that some students came in with a range of education, work and life experiences. Durham College embraced them all and offered services to accommodate everyone. Wherever you are in your life, DC has got you.

What advice do you have for others considering going into communications and PR?

Come to Durham College! You won’t be disappointed. It’s a fun, engaging and relevant program. There is a demand out there for communications roles, and from what I have seen so far, this program sets you up for success.