Policy change allows Medill students to take on extra work while on JR

Amy Whyte, Assistant Campus Editor

Medill students can now enroll in classes or have side jobs while on their journalism residency.

Journalism residency coordinator Desiree Hanford announced the policy change in an email to Medill undergraduates Thursday. Journalism residency, or “JR,” is a quarter-long internship all students are required to complete.

“Students are accustomed to carrying four, sometimes five, units of credit and in many cases also working,” Hanford said. “We thought students should have these options while on JR.”

Because journalism residencies generally count for three units of credit, the change would enable students to take up to two credits worth of classes while on JR, assuming there is no time conflict. Students also have the option of holding a part-time job.

“JR is a full-time commitment,” Hanford said. “It’s important that students are still able to really fulfill their JR responsibilities.”

Though only students on JR in the Chicago area will physically be able to take classes at Northwestern, Hanford said students with JRs in other locations can still take classes if they find a nearby university that meets NU’s standards for transferable credit. Online classes are also an option for those unable to commute to Evanston.

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Medill senior Arpita Aneja, who is on JR this fall, said although the policy change was a nice idea, she personally did not think it was possible to fit in a class or a job on top of the time already being committed to JR.

“I just don’t have a lot of time for anything else when I’m already working 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” Aneja said. “I’d rather just focus on JR.”

However, Medill senior Lisa Xia, who is also on JR this quarter, said she was able to find a flexible part-time job that she hopes will allow her to balance work and her internship.

“Lately I’ve been needing some last-minute money to make ends meet with family and with other things as well, so I was really grateful to be able to get this job offer, but I was a little nervous because I knew JR was this quarter, and I wasn’t sure what the department would have thought about it,” Xia said. “It was just at that moment that I got that email telling us it was okay.”

Xia said though JR will remain her first priority, she appreciates the opportunity to be able to work a part-time job as well.

“We are students at Northwestern and by nature we are super ambitious, unreasonably ambitious, but that just means we’re used to having a lot going on,” Xia said. “It’s great to have that flexibility and that understanding to be able to work with your advisers or to be able to work with your boss to make things work for you.”

Hanford said in the past, Medill has made exceptions for students who asked about the possibility of working while on JR. She said the most essential thing about the new policy change is that students hoping to take class or work while on JR clear their decision with both herself and their JR supervisor before taking on any extra responsibilities.

“The most important thing is that it’s transparent,” Hanford said.

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Twitter: @amykwhyte

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