In the world of internships, there are so many options that it can feel overwhelming at times: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles…the list of intriguing cities and competitive opportunities goes on. As a journalism major, it always feels like the rest of the herd is just a little better, so I didn’t seriously aim for any of these major undertakings. Instead, I took a step back to focus on building a larger portfolio of written products for next year.
I stayed in my hometown of Fredericksburg, Virginia, where I work as a reporter and copy editor for Toonari Post, an online media organization, and as a journalism/media intern for We Are One 365, a start-up nonprofit.
That in and of itself wouldn’t be so interesting, except for the fact that I telecommute for these internships – I do most of the work from a kitchen counter or the desk in my study. Telecommuting always seemed like something only well-established adults with genuine careers would be able to commit to.
My experience tells me that it may not have been a bad assumption.
At first glance, telecommuting seems easy: I get to make my own schedule, there’s absolutely no commute beyond walking downstairs (which is also optional) and the work attire frequently lacks pants. My coworkers and supervisors are all over the world, but reachable through Skype and Yammer, a corporate social media network, so I’m never totally alone. With all the time in the day I’ve suddenly acquired by not having to adhere to basic social etiquette or hygiene standards, I’ve been able to spend more time with friends and family that it’ll become harder to see as the years pass.
But the flip side of this coin makes these pros seem questionable.
Though I make the working schedule, it’s very easy to spend a whole day trying to find something to write about and lose all will to work. With no coworkers, it’s hard to keep the pressure on yourself to complete something without anyone to physically compare to. Since I’m home all day, my family has taken it upon themselves to think I’m free and use me as a grocery/errands mule, so I spend as much time at Giant as I do working.
As someone who likes their alone time, it’s uncomfortable to say that I find myself lonely when working. And one of the big reasons I stayed close to home was just so I could be an errands runner for my mother, but it can still be grating on my productivity.
In order to combat these things, I end up trying to be as professional as possible in my kitchen. Though I don’t have a set wake up time, it’s good to be up before noon. At the beginning of every week, I try to determine three general topics I’ll cover for Toonari and a list of people I’ll call for We Are One 365. If I’m writing a story for Toonari, I lock myself in the study and only come out for food. There have been occasions when I’ve told my mother, “Sorry, but I’m working.” It doesn’t always work and sometimes I’ll still get sent to Giant, but it allows me to find a middle ground between being a working girl and a good daughter.
But when I talk to my friends, who are in big cities with “real” jobs, I feel almost no envy beyond the fact that they’re making new connections with like-minded individuals. Each day, I get a little closer to reaching my goal of creating a better portfolio for myself, but sometimes it gets awfully quiet in the kitchen.
About the NU Intern Blogger Program
This summer, over 50 Northwestern University students will be sharing stories about what they are experiencing at their internships from across the country and internationally. Each week new students will share an inside look at what it means to be an intern. Please contact Betsy Gill, Assistant Director, Internship Services if you have any questions.