By Kristie Kam
As a dual major in business and journalism, I am always interested in business reporting. When I received an email about a summer internship position at Long Island Business News, I applied right away. This was my first internship at a local newspaper, so I really did not know what to expect. I got mixed feelings prior to my first day: On the one hand, I could not wait to write business-related stories, but, on the other, I was doubtful about my abilities as a journalist.
But who would have thought that nine weeks later, I would walk out of that internship with a new appreciation of journalism and self-discovery of where my passion lies.
Business is everywhere. It is not only about business operations and big numbers, but it also covers business, economic and financial activities in fields including law, healthcare, entrepreneurship and technology.
There are six editors at Long Island Business News, and each of them is very experienced in covering stories in their own areas. Dave Winzelberg is the real estate and development reporter who was a freelance reporter for The New York Times for a long time. He was the one who gave me my first story assignment. I thought it was just going to be a short web story, but it turned out to be a print story about a woman who started a sportswear business and going to be featured in a show on ABC. I started panicking and wondered if I could finish the story on time before deadline. But Dave guided me through and taught me how to complete my first photo assignment as well. I was also able to edit my piece with Joe Dowd, the editor in chief. As a non-native English speaker, I really appreciate what Joe did because it really helped me to learn about the common mistakes I make in my writing and what could have been done to make every sentence sounds better and easier to understand. I also realized that I would never have a chance to sit down and edit my work with an editor if I were to work at a very big newspaper. The close-knit work environment at LIBN really impressed me.
Everyone cares for each other, and there were always discussions in the air ranging from opinions about each other’s stories to criticism about what was happening at the White House.
I received story assignments from all of the editors, especially Claude Sonik, the health care and education reporter. I learned to be more persistent when it came to interviewing sources. I remember when I wrote my last story, about a grant that Stony Brook received from a foundation. I personally did not think too much or question the information on the press release. But Claude always had a lot of insights about topics he was passionate about. If there was anything intriguing, he wouldn’t be hesitant about picking up the phone and have a long talk with the person in charge.
His persistence as a reporter is something I lack. Each editor taught me a unique lesson in this internship, and I could not be thankful enough to receive such mentorship, comments and criticisms. Never have I thought that I would have my own byline in a newspaper. I took a leap of faith to apply to this internship, and I am more than grateful for the opportunity that LIBN has given me.
On my last day, Joe told me, “You are too nice and not aggressive enough,” and he was right.
I for sure do not know if journalism is really for me, but one thing I do know is that I have made improvements and a big step towards being a true reporter.
I see having different internship experiences in college as a trial-and-error process. It is about discovering where your true potential and passions lie. But there is always something you can take away in each internship to prepare yourself for a better one.
Seize every opportunity that comes to you–because why not?