When I saw an ad for Seneca's Summer Institute for Broadcast Journalism, I got excited. I had been in school for what seemed like forever, and here was this program that offered accelerated, postgrad training (just four months!) that all but guaranteed a job afterward. It was very tempting.
So, I contacted the course coordinator, Barbara Caines, and got an enthusiastic response. She said that over 70% of graduates got jobs in small, medium and large markets in Canada, the U.S. and across the world. She said the program has "groomed journalists are on Global, CBC, CTV, Citytv, TSN, Sportsnet, NBC and CBS."
I thought about it for a while, and after a few weeks got another e-mail from Barbara asking if I had made a decision. She seemed a little over-eager, but eventually I decided to apply.
I got accepted before I even realized I was done applying. All I submitted was my name, contact information, my university attended and anticipated completion date. [continued below]....
..... The form also asked how I heard about the program. There was no verification that I was aware of. I never submitted my grades.
After paying the $4000 tuition and beginning classes, Barbara continued to build us up. She said that after graduating we wouldn't have to worry about internships. They were below us, she said. Barbara told us we would have the equivalent of 10 years' experience and could expect jobs paying in the "mid fifties." We were all feeling pretty good.
Fast-forward to a few months after the program had ended and things were considerably less rosy. Almost none of us had found jobs, and the couple who did already had extensive experience or relevant education. Forget about being above internships -- we couldn't even get internships. Employers didn't seem to know what the "Summer Institute" was. Our demo reels mostly showed our fake hosting experience, not something an entry-level journalism position would ever entail.
I've reached out to my former classmates since. The actual percentage of relevant employment is more around 30%, and again this is mostly the people who already had qualifications. How Barbara even came up with the 70% figure I have no idea -- they don't track employment. She must have pulled it out the of air. What she said about us being above internships and being eligible for $55k jobs was either delusional or a lie.
In summary, this program is essentially a preview to broadcast journalism. You may learn a little, but not enough to get a job. The workload is low, and you'll see the result at the end. (A portfolio of almost nothing.) There is not nearly enough focus on ENGs (video pieces), something essential for applying to reporting jobs, and way too much focus on hosting, which while fun is irrelevant to any entry-level job.
Avoid this program at all costs. It will dash your dreams of becoming a broadcaster. Look into the programs at Humber and Sheridan. Internships are an absolute must -- that's how you get a foot in the door.
The Summer Institute of Broadcast Journalism is sorely lacking as a program and will only leave you disappointed, angry and unemployed.