What surprised you the most about your work experience?
When I first started my internship, I expected to be assisting reporters with their stories or doing rewrites of press releases. I did not have any expectation that I would be writing my own stories with my name in the bylines. By my second day, though, I had written a full-length story about a local engineering company and its partnership with a group in Nepal. A week in, I had attended a press conference and written about my interviews with the CEOs of two important local non-profits. Writing entirely my own stories came as a big shock initially, but it has allowed me to authentically experience the fast-paced and fluid world of journalism. It has helped me learn to appreciate the challenge of writing on a 2-hour deadline, and scouring the internet to find contacts for a story.
What helped you to prepare for success during the internship and what are you most proud of achieving?
Writing for the Middlebury Campus introduced me to the thrills and challenges of journalism. I learned how to persuade people to do an interview with me, ask the hard-hitting questions, and organize a story in a compelling manner. It has been exciting to take the skills I learned from the Campus and apply them to interning as a real-world journalist this summer. I have written twenty stories at this point in my internship. The one that I am most proud of, though, was about a town planning board scandal over a housing development in a small town of 1,500 people. At first, the story seemingly only impacted those 1,500 people. However, as I did more research, and conducted more interviews, I saw how the universally applicable the issues of government transparency and public protest were, and how vital it was that this small town’s story was accurately told.
How are you developing personally and professionally throughout the internship?
My internship has taught me how much I value a fast-paced environment, where learning new things each day is a vital part of the job. Each story requires me to research the topic thoroughly, think critically about the questions I ask, and organize information coherently. I thrive on that new challenge each day. At the same time, journalists interact with a wide variety of people as they conduct interviews and cover stories. It has been valuable to learn how to ask people uncomfortable questions in a respectful manner, and represent their stories fairly, yet accurately. I am learning to gladly incorporate my editors’ advice into my writing, while interacting with the people I write about so that both of us feel respected.
Do you have any advice for future interns?
It is natural to feel overwhelmed and underprepared in the beginning, but oftentimes being dropped into the deep end is the most effective way to learn. You will pick things up very quickly, as long as you are willing to make mistakes and listen to the advice of people with more experience.