Two University students selected for 2020 Dow Jones intern class


Photo Courtesy of Dow Jones News Fund

The faces of the Dow Jones News Fund Intern Class of 2020. Heather Schlitz (first column, third row) and Sidney Madden (seventh column, sixth row) will represent the University of Illinois for the second year in a row.

By Ethan Simmons, News Editor

Two University of Illinois students have been selected for the prestigious Dow Jones News Fund Intern Class for their second years in a row. 

Heather Schlitz, a junior in LAS, and Sidney Madden, a senior in Media graduating in December, will represent the University in this year’s 79-person class of Dow Jones interns. 

The DJNF trains student interns in business and data reporting, digital media and multiplatform editing before sending them to work at media outlets across the world. 

The news fund also provides students with $1,500 scholarships, memberships into different media organizations and access to a network of internship alumni. 

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, all training and internships will be done remotely this year. Madden will join 16 other student reporters in the Investigative Reporters and Editors virtual residency before working for Washington D.C.’s Investigative Reporting Workshop. 

“I’m really grateful that Dow Jones and the Investigative Reporting Workshop worked so hard to make this happen,” Madden said. 

Last year’s class of Dow Jones interns featured five University students, the most of any school, including Schlitz and Madden. They’re both repeat performers, but their 2020 summer experiences are looking radically different. 

Last summer, Schlitz wrote data-driven stories for AccuWeather in Pennsylvania, while Madden was a multiplatform editor at Buzzfeed News in New York. 

“Last year I got to work out of this posh New York City office, and this summer I’ll be working out of my childhood bedroom,” Madden said. “It’s very pink, there’s a Twilight blanket on my bed, it’s really different.”   

Schlitz was selected for a business reporting internship at Fortune magazine in late December. Psyched for the opportunity, Schlitz began hunting for a New York City apartment, preparing for the summer of her dreams. 

All her excitement halted in March. A Dow Jones representative emailed her that Fortune had canceled their internship because of COVID-19, and there weren’t any deferral options available. 

“I cried, I was so sad; it was really difficult because I worked really hard for it, I put in a lot of time in my application and into my clips,” Schlitz said. “You think you’re set, you think you have a place to go over the summer, you think you have employment that’s gonna springboard after graduation and then all of that totally dissolves.”

Schlitz scrambled for a new summer position. A couple of errant applications hit their marks: a public relations gig at the University’s Physics department and a position at Texas Highways Magazine, a travel and tourism publication. Schlitz accepted the latter. 

“I was lucky to get another internship even if it’s at an outlet that’s much smaller than Fortune,” Schlitz said. “I’m going to work really hard, get some good clips and just make the best of it. There’s not much else you can do, you can’t really be angry at a virus.” 

Schlitz said the Dow Jones supervisors are still providing her the scholarship money and other perks, and they’re sending her resume out to other publications. 

Even if the coronavirus dampens their summer gigs, Schlitz and Madden are J-school superstars. Their advice to other ambitious media students is simple: Get clips where you can and build relationships with your professors. 

Schlitz wants to thank Jean McDonald, professor in Media, for all the help she provided Schlitz inside the class and out of it.  

“(McDonald is) an absolute rockstar,” Schlitz said. “I would not have gotten my first Dow Jones internship without her, I definitely would not have gotten my second one without her. My writing completely changed after taking her News Editing class. She’s hands-down the best instructor I’ve ever had at U of I or my education in general.” 

Madden started out as a biology major before catching the journalism bug. She’s written for The Daily Illini since 2017, and she served this year as president and editor-in-chief of The Fashion Network, a student magazine. For young student journalists, Madden said to “keep your eyes peeled” for local opportunities. 

“I feel like if you had told me going to the University initially that there were so many media opportunities on campus I would’ve rolled my eyes,” Madden said. “Champaign-Urbana has a special place in my heart now.” 

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Editor’s note: Heather Schlitz and Sidney Madden have both worked for The Daily Illini. Schlitz worked as an Assistant News Editor and Senior Reporter until Aug. 2019, and Sidney Madden is an Assistant Features Editor and Longform Editor.