Nothing Beats Being in the Field

by Steve Rossin

Interning at the Times Review Newsgroup this past summer was a tremendous learning experience that taught me a lot about the sense of urgency that is required when working in a professional newsroom. Before my internship I didn’t really have any experience covering breaking news and I never got to appreciate firsthand what goes into covering events like fires and car accidents. I had the pleasure of shadowing a couple of reporters who were always glad to take the time to answer any questions I had and help me work through any difficulties I experienced.

Going out and doing it on my own took a while for me to get down, but covering these events taught me a valuable lesson in the importance of deadlines and managing my time efficiently. These sort of events happen so quick, and because things moved so fast it made me think a lot more effectively on my feet. I got into a habit when I first started working for the school paper of writing out a list of every single question I had, I know it’s always good to be prepared, but in cases like this you can’t do that because time moves so fast. It took time for me to acclimate to environments like these, but I feel like I improved over time. By the end of my internship I wasn’t shaking in my chair, nervous, worrying if someone was going to tap me on the shoulder and ask me to rush out to a car accident.

I feel like I learned something every day throughout my internship. I got to write stories about local happenings like the carnival and write a story about the animal shelter and their rescue efforts. Looking back at what I did this summer a lot of what I did may seem a bit mundane, but I think it helped lay a good groundwork for the future. I know that if I get an entry-level position at a newspaper a lot of what I did this summer would be what’s required of me and I would have to master it. Getting experience that will help get me a job down the road was priceless and I am so thankful for the opportunity I was given to grow and learn as a journalist.

I also never really appreciated just how important networking is. Even though I’m from the surrounding area I had no clue just how tight knit Long Island’s North Fork community is. One day I was talking to a real estate agent about getting photos of a house for an online story and a week later I talked to his wife while I was doing a man on the street interview about heat waves. Remembering names and asking for contact information is crucial, even if you think you might not talk to a certain person again they may have connections you need in the future.

If I had to give advice to someone going into their first internship straight out of college, whether it is in journalism or not, would be to be as professional as possible and try to create new relationships with the people you meet. Walking into the office with a good attitude, offering to help out with whatever and trying to learn as much as possible put me an advantageous situation.
I would also tell someone considering an internship to go for it as soon as you can. Classes at school are important and you can learn a lot there, but nothing beats being in the field. Where you intern may very well be where you work one day.