Internships paved way for regional editor’s success
By Sawyer Davidson
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
College students are constantly reminded that internships are essential to their education and their future, and Kearney Hub’s Jessica Kokesh is a living testament that students should listen to this advice.
Since she was young, Kokesh loved fiction writing and knew she wanted to work somewhere she could follow her passion for writing. She got into journalism at her high school’s newspaper in Yankton, S.D., as a photo editor. She majored in contemporary media and journalism after she received a scholarship to the University of South Dakota at Vermillion.
The scholarship required her to do internships beginning her freshmen year. Internships can be intimidating, and most freshmen feel as though they can wait until later in their college career to begin applying. But this requirement helped Kokesh get her foot in the professional door early.
Kokesh started her internships at the Watertown (S.D.) Public Opinion in the summer of 2008, which included a variety of reporting and writing. She moved on to a reporting internship at the Rapid City Journal, which proved to be great experience for her career. She broke her first national news story there covering the Sturgis motorcycle rally when Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler fell off stage while performing.
With two internships underneath her belt, she had an impressive resume. But she wasn’t ready to stop. She was chosen for the Scripps Howard Foundation reporting internship in Washington D.C. Her duties included covering many Senate hearings. This was her favorite internship because as she loved D.C.
Kokesh graduated from the University of South Dakota at Vermillion in 2011. Her adviser at the time was in contact with the editor of the Kearney Hub in Kearney, Neb. He told her of a job opening there, so she applied and was hired as the regional editor.
She covers nine counties across Nebraska as well as overseeing five correspondents and enjoys what she does. “I love my job, it’s fun. I learn new things. I like gossip,” Kokesh said.
She enjoys the opportunity to meet new people and experience new things that come with being a journalist. Each day is different, and she loves that part of journalism. Kokesh begins her day by calling nine sheriff’s departments looking for anything newsworthy. In the afternoon, she edits, writes and makes calls, all while listening to police scanners for any breaking news.
Kokesh became involved in journalism early in college, which helped her find a great job after graduation. She hopes to move to a larger, metro audience someday, while pursuing her interests in reporting crime and politics.
Internships helped her grow as a journalist, develop own connections and work with a variety of reporters and editors. “It’s a confidence booster knowing you can go to a whole new town and do reporting,” Kokesh said.
That’s why she recommends internships above all else for aspiring journalists.