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We stood in a clearing in the woods, taking in the green of the trees and the old, colonial style buildings that stood empty among the trees. Fifteen minutes later two mules walked up toting behind them a wooden wagon. It was May, the start of summer and the start of an experience of a lifetime.
As a typical college senior I was worried about the economy and the job market. I watched student after student graduate without the sweet promise of a job or even the notion of where to get started. Some were lucky, but most of the time it was from hard work that a few students did get a job, but it wasn’t always the job they wanted.
So I stood in this clearing, my first day on the job at an internship for the Bedford Bulletin, a local weekly paper, staring up at two huge mules, introduced to me as Lester and Festus. To say this wasn’t what I was expecting would be quite the understatement.
We spent about two hours, between my editor, Tom, the other intern and I, interviewing the two women running Spirtrider Covered Wagon Rides, Mikel Carmon and Susan Hall. After we finished the interview, they let us try to drive the wagon; which was difficult, with Tom taking photos, then we headed back to the office to work on the article. A week later, that article ran on page 1 of section C.
My second story was a simple assignment, but I was excited. I was left to do it all on my own. I was covering a community interest piece, a hands-on learning chance for local children and their parents. Jefferson Forest’s Popular Forest held an archeologist lab for the local community. At the event, I talked to the parents, the children and the lab supervisors. The article ran a week later, page 2A.
The internship was great for me. I had heard horror stories from other students. The internships that left you bored, sitting at a desk, staring at a computer screen, and making the occasional coffee run.
The Bedford Bulletin wasn’t like that for me. I covered real events, attended real court trials, met real people, like a WWII flight nurse named 1st Lt. Evelyn Kowalchuk, and wrote real stories that ran week after week in the newspaper.
I can’t accurately describe the feeling of seeing your name printed above an article you wrote, even better when a few of them landed on the front page. It was an honor that made the hard work and time spent interviewing and researching worth every minute.
Now, when I’m job searching, I know what I like doing and I know what I need to in order to do that job. I got the experience needed to work at a local newspaper. I have clips that I can use as proof I can report under deadlines. I also have an excellent reference, my editor Tom, who is more than willing to help me get my foot in the door of the journalism world.
Internships, especially the ones in your field, are priceless. They let you get that precious experience that so many people look for when hiring new employees, as well as so much more. Internships allow you to get ahead of the recent graduate crowd along with a reason for potential employers to take a second, longer look at you for their company. I wouldn’t be surprised if my internship is the only reason it make it after graduation.