The good thing about internships is that they end
In the summer of 1992, I did my first newsroom internship with the Florence TimesDaily in my home town. I was a 26-year-old college junior who had already completed a four-year stint in the U.S. Army and was working my way through journalism school.
I wasn't paid for my internship, but I was earning valuable experience, so I had to juggle my 20 hours per week at the paper between a full class load at the University of North Alabama and a full-time job working the night shift as an ad setter and press assistant at the Waynesboro Publishing Company in nearby Waynesboro, Tenn.
The TimesDaily (a word they made up), is a New York Times company, and to them a newsroom intern is simply a warm body there to be abused. For three months I helped setting copy, running errands, searching the wire or the archives for this or that and doing all of the things in a newspaper that nobody else either wanted, or had the time to do.
Only once during my stay there did I get the chance to write a story. Near the end of my stay I was given a small little blurb from a breaking police story that was heavily edited by my supervisor and ran under the by-line "From staff reports."
While I did get a good understanding of the work flow in a daily newspaper during my stay there, I didn't get any real experience as a journalist. However, through later internships and summer jobs I was introduced
to community journalism and the fun never stopped.
For the past 10 weeks, Alicia Weldon has been working here at The Greenville Advocate as a newsroom intern, and she has gotten a real taste of what working in a community newspaper is all about. So much so that she will probably be looking for one of those New York Times newspapers for her next internship.
Alicia, a native of Slapout,
is a journalism major at the University of Alabama, and will be returning to Tuscaloosa this fall to continue her studies. Like most journalism majors she chose the field hoping to make a living from her love of writing,
and along the way she has picked up a few other talents that are necessary tools of the trade.
I first met Alicia at the University when I was a lab instructor
in a course called introduction to writing for the mass media. She was a good student in that course, and I was excited to get a resume from her for the job we had open here.
She shows a lot of promise as a community journalist, should she decide to pursue this part of the media world, and has proven flexible enough around the office that I am sure she'll be able to be successful at whatever she wants to do in the future.
Unlike the internship I went through, Alicia was given the chance to write. As a matter of fact, she was depended on for generating stories, and was given an equal share of the newsroom's work load. There wasn't much time for training or coaching, but she responded to the "sink or swim" training method with good resound.
One of the good things about working at a small town newspaper is that everybody gets the chance to do a little of everything, and hopefully she learned a few things around here she will be able to use later on.
Alicia will start her junior year in the fall, and we all wish her luck in the future. She came on board quickly, fit in quickly, and became a valuable member of the team right away. Everyone in the office will miss her presence.
When I interviewed Alicia for the internship back in April, she said her goal was to work as a crime reporter for a large metropolitan newspaper. And, while I can see how that might be exciting for some people,
I wonder how much she might enjoy that kind of work for any length of time.
My only advice to Alicia is to go with her strengths from this moment on. She is a hard worker and is not afraid to make contact with people. She is from a small town, and understands small town folks, so I want to encourage her to look toward smaller towns as the source of a rewarding career.