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Week Six: Last Week

The internship is over.  I felt relieved, very relieved on the last day.  My last week consisted of me working on the mascot story and transcribing the interview I had with “The Editor.”  I also did a few fact-checking assignments.

Intern # 2 came back.  After asking me how things were since she was gone, she suggested that we invite the other two interns with us for lunch.  She is the more sociable one.  We invited them.  The first time they could not have lunch with us because they had to do other things.  But on the last day I worked, we all gathered in the kitchen to talk and eat.

It turned out that I was not the only one who felt tired, bored at times, and slightly frustrated that I was not given enough stories.  We all pretty much felt the same way.  It also turned out that the two new interns are cool people.  One of the interns ix a sophomore in college, and she’s hilarious.  The other intern is a college graduate trying to enter the work force.

We introduced ourselves, talked about our backgrounds–our goals and dreams–compared stories about our experiences interning, and laughed about how very different the experiences of the first group of interns were from the new group of interns.  Intern #2 and I talked about the quizzes, the embarrassment, and what we learned.  We laughed and talked for about an hour.  Then it was time for me to leave.  Say good-bye.  Be entirely grateful–no matter what–that someone gave me an opportunity to make productive use of my summer.

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Week Five: From Complaints to Thanksgiving in June

I am aware that I am writing this post in the early stages of Week Six–my last week of interning at the newsroom.  But I will try to keep the contents of this post relevent to Week Five and not Week Six.  Forgive me for any inconsistencies in verb tenses. 

A fourth intern has arrived and we have not communicated since she’s been here.  Intern # 3 and I have only greeted each other casually and have exchanged no words other than hello.

Week Five was a tiring, emotionally stressful, and bleak week.  I’m beginning to question if I can do this.

I woke up Monday morning and I could not muster up the strength to come to work.  I felt sick and weak.  I decided to stay home. 

I discovered a new show towards the end of Week Four: Lost.  And I feel lost.  What am I doing in a newsroom?  Why am I deciding to work more than the required 120 hours when everyday I feel like I have to drag myself from bed.

It didn’t help my motivation when I arrived at work one day asking for something to write and I was given a story that was literally picked up from the garbage can.  The story was about a  mascot for the rescue squad of a local town.  My pride was hurt when I thought that the only story the editor found me worthy to write about that day was one that was thrown in and rescued from the trash.  What has happened to my other stories?  No one gave me any word on them.  Did the editors think the stories were poorly written?  Did they think that I’m a bad writer?  If so what don’t they tell me?  I’m strong enough to hear that I’m a bad writer and wise enough to work towards improving my writing.

During Week Five, my spirit was crushed.  My energy was depleted.  Through all of that, I stumbled upon another blog that brought up the issue of struggling to be grateful for being given the opportunity to intern, while feeling ungrateful for some of the task one performs.

Amid all of my complaints, I choose to be grateful.  Something happened that helped steer me in this direction.  I approached “The Editor” and asked if I could interview him about journalism and his job as a journalist as part of my assignment and grade for the internship.  He agreed and we talked.

although he was cynical about generation Y, and  in my opinion, he did not recognize some valuable contributions some people of our generation have made to the world (Google, for example), I thought he made some good points about the decadence of print journalism as a result of the success of the World Wide Web.

He also said several things that were very poignant and I took to heart.  One thing he talked about was how he takes great pride in teaching people who are eager to learn from him.  He said that he was very disappointed from the interns he had this year because all he got from them was a bunch of complaints and eye rolling, and even more disappointing was that we wanted to do things very well when he only wanted to teach us what he has learned from years as a journalists.

I was hurt by that because I wanted nothing more than to learn from someone like him, and in my opinion, all the other intern and I wanted to do was to learn journalism in a more practical way and to produce work in the newspaper so that we had something to show our professors.

But I took all that he said in and I apologized to him in an email and admitted that he was right, and I’m changing my perspective.  I’m thankful that I even got an internship, and I’m thankful that I got to work with a nice group of people, and I’m also thankful that I got the opportunity to meet all the editors–that I got to learn a lot from “The Editor.” 

I know that by Week Six, my last week, I would have an even more positive outlook on things.  I know this because I can read into the future.  Not exactly, Week Six is already over and I’m unscathed.

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Week Four As An Intern: Memorial Day Rest, Grey’s Anatomy Speculation, Phone Calls, Feature

On Monday, Memorial Day, I got my first weekday break from the newsroom.  It was much-needed since I had put enough time into calling every town in two of the local counties asking for information on their Memorial Day Celebrations so that I could compile a list of towns and their celebration–along with the other intern–for the news paper.  It was time-consuming, but we got it done a week before memorial day.

Except for the fact that my friends and I discovered a new park in the county we live in, my entire Memorial Day weekend was spent watching reruns of Grey’s Anatomy, and I got up to episode 126–the end of Season 6.  Just enough to get caught up on the drama of Season Seven.  Later on into the week, I would learn that there are rumors that two of the main actors of the show are threatening to leave if the show doesn’t get better and that Season 8 may be the last season of the show.  But that may all just be cyber gossip.  I have no time to think about that now.

When I returned to work that week, I got an assignment.  I had to call people who participated in a poll about partisanship in New Jersey and ask them what they think about the democratic and republican parties.  Most people either were not home or did not want to allow their political opinions to be published in the newspaper, or were just plain rude and yelled at me for calling them.  Most of the people who did answer said that they were skeptical of both parties, or that the two parties have to work out their differences and start working together.  I only got one angry response from a man who thought all illegal immigrants were from Mexico and that they should go back there.  He also said that the democrats were communists and President Obama is giving too much money to illegal immigrants.

I was also given another job that week.  I had to call the sheriff offices of two counties to ask if there was a shortage of ammunition in these counties because of the reports that many places across the country were facing a shortage of ammunition because of the conflicts in the Middle East.  It turned out the none of our local police departments were facing ammunition shortages.

I also got another assignment that week.  A feature!  A real feature!  No press release, just a story that I can only write by interviewing people.  The story is about a Tae-Kwon Do school for special needs children.

I was excited about this story.  The only thing that hindered my joy was that I could not go to the place and interview the people in person because as an intern I am not allowed should something happen to me.   How can I write a feature if I am not there to see what’s going on–if I’m not there to record the sights, smells, and other observations of the place, atmosphere and mood?

P.S. “The Editor” has not lectured us for about two weeks; it’s scary.  The other intern has gone to South America for a class trip; she’ll be back on my last day.  I have no one to talk to on my lunch break now.  Another intern has arrived and I do not know his name.  I have not introduced myself.  I’ll call him Intern # 3.

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Week Three: Press Release Monotony and Calling the Governor’s Office

Week Three.  We wanted to write;  we got to write, or should I say rewrite press releases. Maybe not exactly rewrite, but it felt like it.  My job for the week was to write two previews about events I had heard about from press releases.  One event was called Bio-Blitz, an annual program in which scientists, naturalists, amateur naturalists, and the public gathered together at one of the county’s park to take a survey of the biodiversity around the urban and suburban areas of New Jersey.  The other event was about the Sourland Music Festival, held near the Sourland Mountains of New Jersey.

Both events sounded picturesque so you could imagine how frustrated I was that instead of going to these places and taking notes on the natural beauties of New Jersey that most people are completely oblivious to, I was confined at a desk, on a chair, next to a computer–interviewing people and hoping that I could give my article a taste of the places without being there in person.  Instead of being pretentious, I opted to use a slightly newsy approach to the story with just a little hint of creativity.  Since I have never been to the Sourlands, I thought it would be fair to start the story on this note, “The Sourland Mountains will soon be alive with the sound of jazz and bluegrass….”  This was a big improvement from my lede about the Bio-Blitz event which was a straightforward, “On this date, Union County, which boasts the fifth oldest park system in the nation will host its 8th annual Bio-Blitz event.”

I did my interviews, got quotes from people who were looking forward to seeing their events broadcast in the newspaper.  Imagine how embarrassing it was when they asked me when the article would get published and all I could say was I didn’t know because it is all up to “The Editor” who had barely said a word since “The Revolution” took place.  In spite of that, the people gave good information and provided even more useful quotes.

The other intern and I also got a taste of writing breaking news.  While we were busy writing our stories, we were interrupted by an announcement from the calm-looking editor and “The Editor” about a protest outside a building.  We were told to cover the story.  The protest involved about 12 dozen state workers, which were just a fraction of the many state workers that had gathered to protest at many places across the state.  They were demanding that Governor Chris Christie legitimize their right to negotiate their contracts and to meet with him.

I was excited because it was my first opportunity to use my voice recorder.  I talked to three women about their reason for protesting and all of them agreed that they wanted the governor to listen to them.  I felt even extra important when the other intern and I were preparing the story and I suggested that we had to get the governor’s side of the story.  I got to call the governor’s office that day and that was the coolest thing that I had done since the internship began.  It would have been even cooler if the governor had called me back before our 5:00 deadline.  But we got our quotes and we got our story.

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Actors on Grey’s Anatomy: Be as You are on the Show, Please?

I have no excuse for why I haven’t written lately.  This is my first full week off from school, and I have spent the few days not doing much of anything besides watching back episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, which I very much enjoy.

It has consumed my life for the past couple of days.  There are 126 episodes of it on Netflix and I have until the 21st to watch it, unless my cousin decides to renew the subscription.  I have so far gotten up to episode 42.

Until yesterday, my room was a scattered mess and I didn’t want to live in it, sit in it, write in it.  But this still is no reason to not be writing.  It was, however, a reason to clean it up–which I did.  Then why am I not writing?

Maybe it is because instead of talking about all the new things that have happened in my life–my college life (which is what this blog is supposed to be about), I have just spent about an hour and 30 minutes on Wikipedia reading bios on the cast of Grey’s Anatomy.  And I have to say, I’m disappointed.  I don’t mean I’m disappointed in the sense that the actors’ lives are not interesting or that their credentials are not impressive, but disappointed because the chemistry that I once thought the characters had on stage does not translate to their real lives.

For example, I have watched seasons one, two, and three; and I really like how the creator of the show was able to acquire a diverse cast.  I especially liked the friendship between George and Preston, until I discovered that while these two characters were friends on the show, in reality a series of controversies emerged in which the real-life Preston made insulting references to the fact that the real-life George is gay; that the real-life Derek and Preston had a scuffel; and that the real-life George left the show on unhappy terms.

This is disappointing.  This has me really sad.  I have other things to write.  But this is sad.  A very, very sad note to end up on.

Sleep is comming.  More to come soon.

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Too busy for what’s important to me, so what can I do about it?

Sometimes it’s better to take a break, and rest.  Easy advice, but quite difficult to put into practice.  Believe me, I know.  I am a work-until-it-all-gets-done type of guy–that is even if your body is telling you to stop, go on.  But sometimes your body decides to shut down and it is almost impossible to go on.  Attempt to do so, and you may sign yourself up as an unwilling candidate for some type of emotional break down.

Today, while attempting to finish a four-paged paper on the crusades two days before it is due, my body began to tell me, enough…I don’t want you to work anymore.  Stop.  You have free time.  It wont kill you to take a break.

As a college student, I suffer from chronic fatigue.  But feeling such tiredness has become so common that my body is almost immune to it.  When I was a freshman, I had what to me now seems to be unlimited energy.  I could stay up until 3:00 AM crafting a paper for my writing class one night, and the next night I could stay up until 2:00 AM working on a problem for calculus.  One night I stayed up until 7:00 in the morning cramming for a chemistry exam.  My class began at 8:00 AM.  I decided to go to sleep for 30 minutes and I ended up sleeping through the exam.  But I survived freshman year of college alright.  However it feels like I am still paying for all the sleep that I missed and all the energy that I once had seemed to have been sucked out of me.

But sometimes I begin to think how much of my tiredness is caused by my urge to keep on going.  When was the last time I took thirty minutes out of my busy schedule to just relax?

My daily routine: Wake up, go to classes, go to work, grab something to eat sometime in between, go do school work, go to sleep.  Wake up and continue the cycle.  It’s tiring.

Recently, I have added something new to my daily routine.  Excercise.  I take about 20 minutes each weekday (sometimes, like today when I have too much work, I skip a day) to go to the track, stretch, run, jog, and walk.  Even this is done in a hurry, and I’m usually thinking about things that I have to get done.  Sometimes, I’ll admit, I would not even run for a good 10 minutes before I start walking.

Excercise is a good start, however something else is missing.  Time for reflection.  Time to just stop whatever I’m doing and just listen.  During times, like these, I like to read the Bible and think over things.  But I have not done that recently because I have become too busy, even for God.  What a frightening admission.

I told my friend that before I do homework, I would try to reserve some time to read my Bible, to just be quiet with the Maker of the Universe.

I’m not one to give advice because I am still trying to practice what I preach.  But if you feel too tired to do your work, whether it is school work or work related to your career, consider taking a thirty-minute break.  Take a walk, grab an apple, stretch.  And remember to include things that are important to you in your daily schedule.  Don’t just allow your daily routine be dominated by work and business.

Have you allowed yourself to become too busy to take time for the things that are important to you?  How do you plan to take some time for quiet, rest, and reflection?

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