Hello Blog. It has been a while. It is midnight on Tuesday and all I can think about is how I would love to sleep and be able to wake up bright and early in the morning and not feel like hitting the snooze button of the alarm on my cell phone. How I would like to get up feeling refreshed and well-rested.
But that will be too much to ask for. Not just because it has been a while since I have written on this blog, but I have to wake up early tomorrow and begin another day as an intern at the local newspaper offices.
When school ended and I was done with my last final… when the last pieces of belongings (whether they were going to the garbage bucket or back to my home) were removed from the dormitory, I imagined a restful summer. I was excited that I would be doing an internship, especially since it was something that I could and still can definitely see myself doing in the long run. I thought it would be great. I will go to work in the morning. I will learn how to edit, interview, and write–well. I will have dozens of articles published in the newspaper. I will shadow the editors and reporters as they teach me how to polish an article until it is flawless. Then after work, I will come home at about 2:00 and will have enough time to catch up on back episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and read books I have yet to read.
I think you are already starting to figure out that things did not go as planned. But even I don’t know how this will end, so I suggest you keep reading until the internship is over. There were several things I did wrong going into the internship that contributed to it starting off badly and there were several things that happened that I couldn’t help at the time, and there were several things that happened (some I contributed to and some I didn’t) that helped steer it in a different direction.
I went into this internship with high hopes. Past experiences have taught me to never enter anything with high hopes, but the optimist in me is too strong. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Of course the price I pay for this is disappointment, but ah, how it feels so good to hope.
I started the internship just three days after getting off from school. This was one of those bad decisions. I was so excited to begin something that interested me that I thought I didn’t need at least a week to catch up on sleep that I had lost because of finals week. I could handle this, I thought. When I stepped into the office in the building that I would be spending six weeks of my life, I was greeted warmly by a receptionist who called one of the editors to make it known that I had arrived. A friendly and calm-looking fellow came walking towards me. The first place he showed me was the bathroom. “This is the most important thing,” he said.
Well, somebody has a sense of humor. This guy and I could get along. We went into the newsroom and all I could think about was: where are all the reporters? Where are the rest of the computers? Where is the rush of trying to get the story done by deadline? Where is the chaos? Okay, maybe I was glad to see that there was no chaos, but the desks were uncharacteristic of order. In the center of the newsroom stands a large desk shared by seven reporters. In the middle of the desk, lay stacks of folders, papers, and old and new newspapers. A similar desk, which seats about four more reporters is positioned in the back of the room. And in the left corner, next to a large window, sits a smaller desk, where another reporter and I share the space. There is a desk for one a few feet away from the corner and beyond that desk is where “The Editor” sits–the assistant editor, who is also in charged of torturing interns. Ask him, and he will willfully confess.
After I met all of the reporters and the other intern, I met him. While everyone else greeted me with congeniality, he greeted me with indifference. He shook my hands, barely looking at me. I met the other intern and was shown where I would be sitting for the six weeks.
Our first assignment was to shadow a reporter. He was covering a story at the County Court about an actress who crashed her car into a vehicle of a couple as they were heading into their driveway; she was intoxicated and killed the woman who was in the passenger’s seat as her husband pulled into the driveway. It was my first time being in court and hearing “court jargon” that were way over my head until the prosecutor and defense attorney’s began speaking English. As a journalist, I learned that it was my job to translate that jargon into the vernacular.
When we got back from court the calm-looking editor asked us what we learned. Before we were even done telling him “The Editor” called out, “interns, you are with me.” We went to his desk. He said that from now on, he will not call us by names. He will call us interns, and when he calls us, we are to report to his desk. So I will call the other intern, Intern #2.
“The Editor” gave a long speech about what he was going to teach us and how he was going to be tough with us because when the internship is complete, he would not care an iota whether we like him or hate him–all he will care about is whether we left the internship better than we came.
I got an impression that he was a tough guy. But I also got an impression that he was darn good at his job. When he was done talking to us, he told us to leave. I was given the AP style book by the calm-looking editor and newspapers from the past week to read. “The Editor” called us to his desk. We went. He gave us a quiz. He printed out pictures of 12 prominent women in history–all of which were women that he either liked or thought were important for us to know. He told us that he was quizzing us. Every time he showed us the picture, we had to write the name of the women on a sheet of paper. But we could not recognize any of the women because most of them were beyond our time. Some from the 20s, 30s, or 40s. Because we both miserably failed the first quiz, we had to write a 100 word essay on each of the women, using information we found online. We were not allowed to use Wikipedia for obvious reasons.
Not only that, he gave us home work. Can you believe it? Homework. Wasn’t this suppose to be an internship? We had to read the style book, of which he quizzed us on the next day.
The first week of the internship went that way. We were quizzed and we wrote about famous people we didn’t know. I did no interviewing or writing of news or feature stories as I hoped. But everyday, we did read the newspaper, circled every mistake we could find and talked about why the mistakes we circled were actually mistakes. So I guessed, I learned a thing or two about editing.
More on my experiences as an intern and my interactions with “The Editor” in the following posts to come. Also, more on the continuation of my last post about Grey’s Anatomy.