Today is my last day as the Editorial Intern at BizWest Media.
For the past nine months, I have learned more about myself and this crazy world of journalism than I thought possible when I first started. Between the good, the bad and the blatantly ridiculous, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
20 lessons learned as the intern:
1) You will be known as ‘Intern’ and referred to as such when you’re not present until you do something worthwhile. If your fellow reporters start calling you by your real name, that’s a true compliment. Don’t mess it up.
2) Your office phone was previously someone else’s (and not necessarily a previous intern’s), so you will get phone calls, voicemails and requests that have absolutely nothing to do with your job. You will learn the phone list very quickly so that you can easily direct people to the correct sales staff, event coordinator, accountant, facilities manager, etc. You will be inundated with voicemails that you cannot begin to understand the nature of, or why they called your number in the first place. My favorite was a grandfather leaving a message to wish their grandchild a happy birthday…..
3) Your work load will range from very little to what-possessed-me-to-take-this-internship-again? You will be stressed. But, you will get it done. And, for the majority of assignments, they will turn out better than you thought they would.
4) 20 hours per week really means at least 30.
5) You will learn to rely on your fellow reporters. For sources, for information, for advice and for some good laughs. Thanks, Molly and Steve.
6) You will learn a lot about the company you work for and the people you work with. Sometimes a little too much.
7) Some of the people you work with will not know your name or who you are, even after spending nine months there.
8) Editors can sometimes be the voice of reason…and other times make you feel like you don’t even speak or understand English.
9) Confidence is key. With interviews, with writing and with asserting yourself as someone who knows what they’re doing….for the most part. When in doubt, ask questions. Confidently.
10) Some days, your writing will really, really suck and you will wonder why you ever decided to get in to this industry in the first place.
11) Some days, you’ll believe you can win a Pulitzer.
12) Afternoon office beer days are the best days.
13) Don’t tell anyone you’re the intern. When you’re on assignment or conducting an interview, you are not an intern. You are a reporter. (Interns are often seen lowly individuals with small skill sets who have practically no idea what they’re doing. Ok, maybe an exaggeration, but you get the point.)
14) You will get assignments you don’t understand. A few of my favorites were writing about a singles dating app (we had some fun in the newsroom viewing user profiles), outlining the most popular exercises for baby boomers, describing a new, oral-numbing nasal spray, and reporting in-depth about a local university using sheep for space research.
15) You will learn a lot about a multitude of different subjects, sectors, people and projects you report on. You will be a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to random information. This can come in handy in the future.
16) Make sure your name is spelled right on your bylines. Always.
17) Speak up when it comes to edits on your article. If something reads better the way you had it (factually correct and unbiased, of course), consult with the editor or copy editor about why they changed it. They might have a good reason, or they might not.
18) Be sure you can explain or describe anything you have in your article. If you cannot, you will look like an idiot. You may start to be referred to as ‘Intern’ again – JK.
19) You will show up early, you will stay late, and you will work on your assignments outside of your designated “20 hours” per week in order to meet your deadline. Always meet your deadline.
20) Never be the first one at the building. There’s a fine line between over-achiever and desperation. Also, you don’t have a key.
In all honesty, though, I have enjoyed my time working with the news team and will take with me the lessons, insights and knowledge I’ve gained and apply it to future endeavors. I have grown as a writer and reporter and am confident in the skills that I have to take me further as a journalist.
Thanks, BizWest. It’s been fun. ….I’m available for freelance work *hint hint*