Long gone are the days of summer filled with poolside afternoons and umbrella drinks. Instead, I’ve traded in my flip-flops for heels, and my swim suit for a power suit. This summer will chronicle my journalism internship in a field that’s slightly out of my comfort zone, and test my abilities to become business savvy in the big city.
Although I hate to admit it, (it would make my father, who has been unsuccessfully trying to push me into a business degree for years, far too happy) I was excited to officially start my internship.
I started my day with a tour from one of the other interns. My previous experience has taught me that this moment is highly informative of the work environment you’ll be in for the next few months. When I worked at a newspaper a few summers ago, my boss gave me a tour of the building on my first day – white walls, bare cubicles, dusty little closets crammed floor to ceiling with old newsprint, and complete silence in the office save for the sound of keystrokes. Needless to say it was not a very exciting experience.
If I’m right about tours being any indication, this internship is looking to be a big improvement. The two-story building was buzzing with activity. With four main magazines and several specialty publications falling under one media house it’s almost impossible to tell who is on staff for what publication. In many cases, staff members work on several of them and the office space is always filled with the beautiful sounds of collaboration.
Just being in the office was starting to make me feel less student and more journalist. Red accent walls adorned with glossy magazine covers, christmas lights hanging from the ceiling and my very own cubical are apparently all it takes to get me excited to leave the Northwestern bubble in favor of the real world.
And the fun didn’t stop there. After I got settled, my editor took me along on a lunch meeting downtown. A beautiful lunch on the riverfront? A $30 plate of fresh calamari? Seeing the mining of a source in action? Company credit card? Yes, please.
After lunch, my editor took me on a tour of Detroit. Although I’ve lived in her surrounding suburbs for my entire life, I could probably count on two hands the number of trips I’ve made to the once great city. The bones of her past are still visible, and the initiative to resurrect her name has placed a shiny new facade on some of the city’s most notable buildings. I never thought that I would consider Detroit a real metropolis, but working here is looking like it will change a lot about the way that I think.
Back at the office, I got my first assignment. This is what I had dreaded since I had first applied here. Analyzing the financial climate of the city and the thought of writing one dry story after another made me want to transfer to School of Comm. But like so many things this week, I was wrong.I’m profiling a company in Detroit recently started to promote community involvement, eco-sustainablity and the rebuilding of the city. And I love it. I dove right into my reporting and found myself drawing on all of my experiences from last quarter in Journalism 301 (thank you Eric Ferkenhoff).
My second day at work, I came back to reality. I am only an intern and I spent the morning fact checking and writing press releases. An afternoon web meeting had me thanking Medill for the second time that week as I was able to suggest some marketing and social media initiatives that the generation above me couldn’t. It looks like the addition of “Integrated Marketing and Communications” to the school’s title may just pay off.
I stayed late pouring over the budgets for the company I’m profiling. Even though this is exactly what I’d been afraid of, I found myself not really minding. Let’s be honest, budget sheets still read like Greek to me, but I was making some progress. My first week on the job had been an important reminder of how much I actually love what I do – regardless of the subject.
First lesson learned: it’s not the expensive business lunches, the big city or the hip offices that keep me in this business. It’s the story, and yes even the fact checking, that make me love this industry. So I stayed that extra hour submerged in data sheets for the love of journalism.