Summer Journalism Internship In France: A Look Back


My three-month internship in Rouen, France, has come to an end. This has certainly been a great opportunity for me go beyond my limits. As an intern for the R2R radio station I was sent to press conferences, I was asked to come up with story ideas, and I was given the opportunity to interview over 75 people.

This trip has allowed me to justify my title of “multimedia journalist” on my website and business card. Before coming here I had worked as an Assistant Director and Web Editor for a television news show at Sheridan College, done interviews in front of the camera, written blog articles, built my own website, and taken courses on how to write magazine articles. Now I can add, “experience with working in radio” to my resume.

On a more culture related aspect, this internship has also allowed me to work in a different part of the world, while having to deal with a rather unique language issue. This being France, of course people here speak French, which is not a problem for me since my parents are from Québec and New Brunswick. However, it never took any of my interview subjects too long to figure out I was from out of town based on my accent. “You’re Canadian right?” they would ask. That’s a loaded question if you have relatives in Québec, so I usually just answered: “I am from Québec City.”

Part of my tasks as an intern also included coming up with my own story ideas. I chose to do coverage of the Québec student protests from the point of view of French organizations. I managed to interview three leaders of student associations and a director of the local financial aid organization. I would have liked to interview a more political source to get a different point of view on the situation, but I was told it was unlikely the president of the university would offer any comments.

Either way, my supervisor was pleased with the end result. He told me people in France had not been hearing a lot about the situation in Québec so my story provided a lot of information. I learned something as well. My interview with the director of the financial aid association showed me the differences between the Québec and French system of financial aid. She told me her organization, the CROUS (Centre régional des oeuvres universitaire et scolaire), does not deal in loans that have to be repaid over many years, but only in bursaries for those who need them. I am no economist so I will not offer an opinion on which system is better. I try to focus on just the facts.

At the beginning of this year I was spending my weeks sending resumes and having occasional interviews during which interviewers would tell me I did not have enough experience. Now I have an extra three months of experience, I have done many interviews, and I can add another name to my references list. My supervisor told me he had nothing but good things to say about me if anybody ever called for a reference. Of course that would be a pretty expensive phone call if the possible employer is calling from Canada, so I will be sure to include his email address.

Overall, this has been a very productive and pleasant experience. It has allowed me to gain work experience, meet new people, and travel abroad. Who could ask more out of an internship?

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.