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Student Intern Takes to the Airwaves

Junior Jeanine Ikekhua gains real-world experience as an intern at WUNC Radio.

Two people talk into microphones at a radio station
Jeanine Ikekhua, left, at the WUNC radio station. Photos courtesy of Jeanine Ikekhua.

Take to the airwaves. Gain real-world experience. Intern at WUNC Radio.

Achieving all three goals is how junior Jeanine Ikekhua spent part of her summer break from classes at NC State.

The double major in communication and international studies loves interviewing people and telling stories. So when Ikekhua learned about the internship at WUNC, she jumped at the opportunity.

Ikekhua, who is also a Park Scholar, is no stranger to being behind the mic. Last year she worked as the public affairs director at WKNC, the student-run radio station at NC State.

Jeanine Ikekhua.

“I enjoyed my time there (at WKNC) and was looking for more opportunities in the radio industry,” she says and adds, “One of my career goals is to work for National Public Radio.”

During her two-month internship at WUNC’s Youth Reporting Institute, Ikekhua’s main responsibility was to create a single radio segment about a subject that had affected her and the people around her. She chose her community in her home country of Nigeria.

Ikekhua says participating in the internship has helped her gain broadcasting experience and learn how to edit and improve her interviewing and storytelling abilities.

What has also proved beneficial, she adds, is blending her communication and international studies majors, which she says “work perfectly together.”

“At first, I wanted to work for the United Nations, but realized I loved the conversations and the problem-solving that arises from the topics we examine in international studies classes,” she explains. “I spoke to my advisor and she told me to try communication. Initially, I was reluctant, but I realized it was the best decision.”

The reason is simple, she explains. “Communication teaches me how to interview people, which in turn, enables me to tell stories; and international studies literally provides me with the background information I need to tell stories as a journalist.”

Having that knowledge and those skills, she says, will have a significant impact on her remaining time at NC State. She says she will have a better idea of which career field she wants to pursue, select classes that suit her needs, and gain additional skills necessary to be successful in the future. 

During the internship, however, sharpening some of those skills — like editing, writing a script and transitioning music to audio — was challenging, Ikekhua admits. “It is so hard to know when the story is done, because there is so much more I could say; there is so much more audio I could use,” she explains.

Still, the rewards far outweighed the challenges. Ikekhua’s favorite part of the internship, she says, was “seeing my personal story come to life through the segment on my Nigerian community.”

The program invested in me as a future journalist and I acquired so many new skills.

Ikekhua says she was surprised to be selected for the WUNC internship. That revelation gives way to her advice to fellow students eyeing similar positions.

“Apply,” she stresses. “Stop missing out on opportunities because you don’t believe in yourself. Give yourself a chance to succeed.”

To be sure, Ikekhua feels the internship, which she says she would do “over and over again,” put her on the path to do just that.

”The program invested in me as a future journalist and I acquired so many new skills,” she notes. “I also was paid, which is amazing. “

She also credits the internship program at WUNC and its leaders “with improving the pipeline in journalism by working hard to put more people of color and more diverse stories on the radio.”

Looking ahead, Ikekhua says she hopes “to continue to gain more experience in the radio industry,” and land a job doing what she loves most — telling stories.