Paving the way: UNI student becomes first KWWL Quintern

Taylor Johnson, student, University Relations

If at first you don't succeed, try again. Katie Huinker, a junior electronic media major with a minor in journalism at UNI, successfully learned this lesson as she received the first Quinternship at KWWL Iowa's News Channel 7 in Waterloo.

After receiving an initial internship last summer, Huinker found out KWWL was unable to offer the internship. "I was really let down, but I couldn't really do much about it," said Huinker.

However, a few months later, they offered a new internship, a Quinternship. "During the fall semester, I received an email saying that Quincy, KWWL's corporate company, was going to start offering paid internships," continued Huinker. "Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity and applied the same day. A few weeks later, I received a call saying I was going to be the first Quintern at Quincy in the KWWL newsroom."

UNI student becomes first KWWL QuinternQuintern is an internship program that allows students to gain hands-on experience. A paid internship in the media industry is very unique, most media internships are not a paid position.

"The goal of Quintern is to identify the best and brightest juniors and seniors who are aiming toward careers in TV, print or web and provide them with a paid internship, during which they can get 'real world' training," said Dan Schillinger, news director at KWWL.

This opportunity has allowed her to have one-of-a-kind experiences. She is even having an impact on the daily newscast.

"I do a lot of work for the 5 o'clock news producer," said Huinker. "I write stories, get video and work on the web stories. Some of these have even been on the news."

Of all of her experiences thus far, there is one that sticks out the most. "A few days ago, President Obama was in Cedar Rapids to speak at the Conveyer Company," said Huinker. "When I was told about this, I jumped at the chance to go." Even though she had to be up early, she says the experience was worth losing a few hours of sleep.

"I was up at 2 a.m., and at the station by 3 a.m. We were in Cedar Rapids by 4:30 a.m. just in time for the 5 a.m. news," said Huinker. "Everyone knows how many security personnel travel with the president, but seeing it is surreal! It was the coolest thing."

When asked how UNI helped her attain the Quinternship, she noted having Ron Steele, KWWL news anchor, who also teaches a class at UNI, as a big help with his instruction about the basics of communication.

"We are so excited to have Katie join us as the company's first Quintern at KWWL-TV, " said Steele. "I had Katie as one of my UNI students, and she excelled at every level. I know she will shine even brighter at KWWL-TV."

Huinker, who hopes to someday be a news anchor, also loves to give advice and be an inspiration to younger students who are looking into a similar career path. She does this through her blog.

"I want to record all of the experiences that I encounter and give advice along the way for those who are also chasing a career path in the media industry," says Huinker. "However, much of the advice and inspirational pieces I will share will be applicable to any career path."

With Huinker becoming the first Quintern, she is able to be a model for other students in UNI's Department of Communications.

"The Department of Communication Studies is very proud of Katie's selection as a Quintern for KWWL. She represents the kind of high-caliber student for which we want our program to be known," said Chris Martin, professor and interim department head of communications studies.

Students who are interested in applying for the Quinternship program can do so by visiting

After learning the life lesson of never giving up, Huinker wants others to know this as well. "Be persistent and really go for what you want," said Huinker. Doing this has given her experiences of a lifetime that she will always remember.