Stepping outside my comfort zone

By Greg Zarb |

I interned at Long Island Business News from February through May, and I can honestly say that it was hands-down one of the best experiences of my young journalism career.

I knew from the start that taking an internship at LIBN was going to be interesting and also challenging for me. For years, I had been writing solely about sports whenever I had the opportunity. Sure, in the journalism program, I wrote articles about other things, but never at the consistent rate that I wrote about sports.

So taking on an internship where I was going to have to write about topics outside my comfort zone and experience was going to be a bit difficult at first.

Which it was. Those first few days, I was nervous. It was the first time I was in a newsroom outside of the one in the library. However, the writers and the editor, Joe Dowd, made me feel right at home the more I got to know them.

The first week or so, I was writing a bunch of short little web stories, just to get my foot in the door and understand their style of writing. After three years as a member of the Statesman staff,  I had to learn a new writing style. It came quickly with the help of Bernadette Starzee and David Winzelberg, two reporters. They sat down with me in the early going and showed me the ropes of the writing style at LIBN.

After those initial stories, I was finally given my first print assignment, and it was the hardest story I have ever written. It was about an investment model that only one Long Island investor used. It was so complex that probably 90 percent of the work I did on the story was research on the topic. 

Afterwards, though, the relief and praise felt awesome. Everyone at the office told me how impressed they were with the amount of research and reporting I did and that I did a fantastic job with the story in general. That was a great experience, to be given such a difficult topic right off the bat and prove myself to the staff. That’s what they do at LIBN: They push you and see if you can meet the challenge.

Even in the difficult times, they were always understanding. I screwed up on a story at a point when I was overloaded with the internship and school work, but instead of pushing me away and giving me basic web stories again, Dowd took me aside for a private conversation, explained what went wrong and reconfirmed his trust in me. Joe Dowd is one of the more interesting and down-to-earth people I have ever met, and I am honored to have called him my editor.

As the weeks went on, I got to do more stories for the paper, eventually even getting access to use the WordPress LIBN uses. The website has a “Movers and Shakers” feature which shows hirings and promotions of notable business figures on Long Island. The section was behind by a month and I was given the job of getting the whole section up to date. 

Overall, this was a fantastic experience and a wonderful internship. I highly recommend any freshmen or senior do this internship before graduating.