Photo internship provides alumna with rewarding experience

Haley Nelson has covered everything from sports to rallies during her internship with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Credit: John Beale / Penn StateCreative Commons

(Editor’s Note: This is the 13th in a series of stories about College of Communications students completing summer internships.)

This summer, one Penn State graduate has had the chance to get within arms reach of the Stanley Cup and see Kenny Chesney and Billy Joel perform.

While there is no doubt those experiences were fun, Haley Nelson enjoyed them, and many others, while carrying her Nikon D810 on assignment as part of a post-graduate photo internship with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The internship has led to seeing many of her photos published in the publication.

 “It’s incredibly rewarding. It’s like I’m already a staffer,” said Nelson.

“I love the variety, I love seeing my photos in print every day, and I love the people that I’m working with.”

Variety is the key word there. Nelson, who is a hockey fan, got to shoot NHL player Sidney Crosby during the Penguins’ championship parade. In addition, she ranked shooting a San Jose Sharks hockey practice among her favorite assignments. (She’s a Sharks fan, being from Danville, California).

“They probably didn’t realize it, but I was freaking out. That was awesome,” said Nelson.

Other things she has done have been more hard news, including covering a Hillary Clinton rally and gun violence protests. Along with variety comes a constantly changing schedule. While her hours are supposed to be noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, it depends on her assignments. Technically, she doesn’t have to go to the office every day, but she still likes to go sometimes to get face-to-face time with editors and other photographers.

Nelson, who had never been to Pittsburgh prior to the internship, specifically enjoys being able to explore the city. With all of the different assignments, she has been able to learn a lot about the city.

In addition, she has been able to learn a lot about the business. One benefit, she says, is the experience working at a daily paper, something she hopes to do following the internship. Another is a boost in confidence.

“Now, I have this newfound confidence going into assignments. I’m finding that it’s leading to better images,” said Nelson.

While her confidence has risen, so has her ability to be creative. For Nelson, a challenge has been repeat assignments and trying to create new images from similar events. The challenge, though, has resulted in personal growth, she said. Now, when she shoots an event that she has already photographed, she finds ways to create new and unique images of the same thing.

Shooting photos at popular events is nothing new for Nelson, though. During her time at Penn State, she shot the pope’s visit to the United States and traveled to Greece with the College of Communication’s international reporting class.

“I have said this before in letters and to professors, but the College of Communications has just been there for me since the very beginning,” said Nelson.

“The College of Communications is constantly trying to make opportunities for its students to get out in the field and experience photojournalism firsthand. I can’t say enough good things about the College of Communications and how it prepares us for journalism in the real world.”

Nelson’s work has earned her an extension on the internship through November. Following the internship, she would love to continue working for the Post-Gazette. If not, she plans to apply to other papers or do freelance work abroad.

“That’s a huge goal of mine," Nelson said. "I would love to go to a new country and shoot real issues out there. Hopefully, someone will want to print those pictures. That’s the idea.”

Haley Nelson Credit: Darren AndrewAll Rights Reserved.

Last Updated June 02, 2021