Since my internship began in May, I’ve written at least two dozen articles, added 35 new contacts into my phone, and sent hundreds of emails. Among the tasks I’ve been given, I would have to say that writing an essay about what I’ve learned is the most difficult.
I could list a few of the technical things that I’ve learned from rookie mistakes, like writing all cutlines in present tense and checking the file location before saving it.
I think the biggest take-away from this 10-week internship would be that all people seek validation. The first time I had to call and interview someone over the phone, I was beyond nervous. I was more concerned with how they would perceive my uncertainty and constant word fumbling rather than obtaining useful information.
After conducting several more phone interviews, I realized the person on the other line feels just as awkward as I do. Sometimes they can’t answer my question, they’re distracted, or they repeat themselves as a way to compensate for the lack of conversation.
What people want is to be heard – to have someone listen to them without criticism or comment. As a reporter, I do have to do a fair share of prying to get questions answered, but that doesn’t mean I have to facilitate small talk.
In place of pleasantries, people being interviewed are often just looking for an affirmation, whether it’s a nod, a verbal prompt, or jotting down a quote from them. They just want to know that they are being heard and their time matters. Because it does.
Aside from this, I’ve also learned that people are much nicer than I give them credit for. Almost everyone I’ve spoken with over the phone or via email has been very kind and considerate.
I’m grateful that I was allowed the opportunity to serve as an intern at The Newnan Times-Herald. I’ve made great connections, not only with the reporters and staff (who are pretty cool), but I’ve met some great people in the community that I otherwise probably wouldn’t have known.
I will take all of the things I’ve learned – good reporting, responsibility, social skills, etc. – and put them to use as I embark upon another year of college and year of life.
Madeline Schindler, a graduate of Newnan High School, was a summer intern sponsored by the Georgia Press Association. She is studying journalism at the University of West Georgia.