Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Newest Adventure

Before I reflect on all my journeys while I was studying abroad and catch up on all of those blog posts, I thought I would update you all on my life right now.  This summer I have the great privilege of being an intern at The Dorchester Reporter in Dorchester, MA (basically right in Boston). I am SO excited to be writing for an actual newspaper and to be learning from reporters who are actually in the business.  I had done one internship before this as a senior in high school with my local newspaper, so I went in knowing a little bit about how an internship works, but every workplace is different.

It all started last December when I was freaking out about what I was going to do this summer.  I live in a very small town, so it is very difficult to find much to do during the summer.  For the past two summers I had worked at Val's Pipe and Packaged in my town.  The owners were very generous to give me a seasonal job (even letting me work during the winter months) and I am very thankful for all they have done for me, but I figured this summer, it was time to move on.

At first I was aiming for The Boston Globe, and while I was trying to network my way in, I did not realize I had to fill out an application as well.  I then became so busy with my fall semester that I lost track of things until November.  Rule #1: Always check for applications and application deadlines. In December, I was really worried because I had no prospective internship options, and it was looking like I would be spending the summer in Adams again after studying abroad in Florence for an entire semester.  At the very end of my December break, I got in contact with my cousin who is a First Amendment lawyer for The Boston Globe.  He put me in touch with a veteran Globe reporter who he knew had a lot of contacts.  The only problem was that this decision was made so quickly and so late that I only had about 2-3 days to pack and get ready for studying abroad before moving down to Somerville, MA, with my Uncle for my last few days in America.  I met with both my cousin (who I had never met previously) and the Globe reporter, along with a few other people who would be good contacts for the future.  It worked well enough that I left with contact information for a possible newspaper for which to intern and contacts who could help me along the way.  My uncle and my cousin really helped me a lot in this process, and I am really grateful to them.

I contacted The Dorchester Reporter and sent them my resume and some clippings of my past work immediately.  I wanted to get at least a foot in the door before going abroad since I knew communication might be tricky while there.  A few days into my stay in Siena, I set up a Skype interview with the editor of the paper.  The internet in Hotel Athena was terrible, and I was afraid I might lose him during the skype conversation.  A few things said were fuzzy because of the connection, but I was given the internship right on the spot.  I was ELATED.  I asked my roommate about a million times if I heard the editor correctly and actually did get the internship.

Now, this summer I am living with my uncle in Somerville and taking the T into Dorchester four days per week to write for this newspaper.  I am having a blast so far.  The paper is completely family owned and run.  It was started in the 1980's by my editor's parents as an alternative to The Boston Globe, which did not cover as much Dorchester news.  The Dorchester Reporter is a weekly newspaper, and according to my friend who lives in Dorchester, the residents love it.
I had my first day at the paper this past Monday.  Upon going in, I was really nervous because I didn't really know what to expect.  Different newspaper, different rules. I was also expecting to be started out with editing press releases.  I got thrown right into the fire instead.

My editor took me on my first assignment, for which I only had about an hour and a half to prepare for.  But even so, he only told me the name of the business and what was happening that day.  I had little idea who would be there or who I might have to interview.  My story focused on a "Cash Mob" in Dorchester who was aiming to have a lot of people go into a new candy store in downtown Dorchester (A Sweet Place) and pump money into the local business to bolster the local economy.  I started researching the Dorchester Cash Mob and the business and started to formulate some questions so I could be at least a little prepared. It was really fun to meet and interview everyone during that assignment.  I was thrown a curveball when my editor decided to add another business who was not being cash mobbed, but was still new to the street, into the article.  I had to think on my feet and try to come up with my questions on the spot to get the information I needed.  I'm usually not very good at going in completely unprepared, but I think I did pretty well.

Today was my second day, and I've already written two stories.  I have two more days this week and I will write two more stories.  I have never reported and written stories completely in a day because I have always had to wait on interviews or have had schoolwork get in the way. This is a much different atmosphere as I am completely focused on this from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day I'm in the office. I love it!

So, here are some tips for getting an internship that I learned through this process:

1. Be organized. Make sure you know all the things you have to do to apply.  This includes cover letters, resumes, applications, letters of recommendation, etc.

2. Do not discount any connection you might have for the internship you are going for.  If they can't help get you the internship, they might be helpful just for advice.

3. Be persistent. Follow up with the possible employer, even if it is just to say "Thank you for the interview." Don't let them forget you (but in a good way).

4. Do not procrastinate.  The internship will not wait for you.

5. Explore every option.  Do not just shoot for one thing because what you may brush off as an internship you do not want or cannot get may surprise you.

I made new friends on my first day of my internship too! Check out the photos on the Cash Mob blog to see me in action!

If you have any questions regarding summer internships or my life at Saint Michael's College, please do not hesitate to email me (emurray@mail.smcvt.edu), Tweet me (LittleLizzie33) or ask me a question on Formspring (lizmurray3).  I will answer each question as quickly and as thoroughly as possible.

Ciao :)

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