Summer Journalism Internship In France: My First Week On The Job


Last week was my first official week working as an intern for Radio R2R in Rouen, France.

I will admit I was nervous about getting back into the business of journalism, given it had been almost a year since I had last done any solid work. Fortunately, it was a smooth transition into the workplace.

On Wednesday I met the entire crew of the radio station located at the University of Rouen. There I met a fellow intern called Harmonie, who has been working there since January. She has been very helpful in showing me the ropes by telling me about the people I will be interviewing, describing the work environment and explaining how to use the station’s editing program.

By the end of the week I had been on my first assignments. The most exciting was a press conference about the Tour de France. The most important members of the city council of Rouen were there to explain the programming for the days when the annual bicycle race will be stopping in the city, on July 4 and 5.

I felt slightly out of place when I got there with Harmonie. Almost everyone was dressed in suits and ties. I was wearing jeans, a black shirt…and a Green Day hat.

Yet, like the other professionals in the room, we sat down in front of the city officials and listened for about half an hour as they went into detail about the race’s programming. By the time they were done, we were to go up to them and ask them questions, which we would record with a portable recorder. I was getting nervous since, as the conference was winding down, nothing came to mind.

Then I remembered: I am from Quebec City, a city that is invaded with tourists every year during the summer festival when international rock groups come to play. The newspapers always talk about the positive impact the event has on the tourism industry. Why not take the same approach with the Tour de France?

So Harmonie and I approached Valérie Fourneyron, the Mayor of Rouen, and I asked her what impact the event would have on the city’s tourism industry. It turns out the hotels are booked that weekend.

Overall we recorded two solid minutes with the mayor and two more minutes with the president of the agglomeration. I do not know the names of all of the officials yet, but Harmonie has met most of them after having worked in the area for over four months. Maybe I will be able to say the same by the time I leave.

After each assignment we return to the station to upload the interviews on the station’s computer and edit them in time for the show. The station manager sometimes checks up on us to make sure we have interviewed the most important people. Once everything is uploaded and ready, we go over when and where we have to go for the next assignment.

So far everything I have done confirms doing this internship was a good idea. I am given actual work experience and I am allowed to think on my feet.

Also, we are not just asked to go on assignment. On my first day I was encouraged to come up with story ideas of my own. It has been a busy week, but I have taken the time to start thinking of a few story ideas. Hopefully I will start working on them soon. I need to show potential employers I can do more than follow orders. I have to be proactive as well as reactive.

Do you have any advice that will help Simon make the most of his internship in France? Share your tips in the comments section below!

About the author

Simon Arseneau has been travelling around the world since he was two years old. Although he was born in a small Canadian town, he spent his teenage years in Chile and Peru. There he learned how to speak Spanish and how to adapt to a new culture. In 2006, he studied English and Intercultural Studies (translation, editing, and literature) at the University of Sherbrooke. In 2010, he enrolled at the Sheridan Institute (Oakville, Ontario) in Journalism- New Media where he learned how to operate cameras, perform interviews, edit material with Final Cut Pro, take digital photographs, use new media technology, and write for the web and print. In July 2011, he participated in the ieiMedia program in Perpignan, France, where he shot videos, performed interviews, and wrote a feature story about blacksmiths working in the region. Simon speaks French, English, and Spanish, and has experience with Italian and German.