This past winter, I secured a summer internship at Only A Date, a Chicago startup online dating company that launched in April. But to my delight, this summer I was lucky enough to be hired as an intern for the summer at Evanston Now, a local news website, as well. Before my summer began, I knew I would learn very much from these experiences.
At the Only A Date internship, my main responsibility is blog management. Because of the popularity of the MTV show Catfish, the Only A Date blog features real-life catfish stories, as well as other stories related to online dating and relationships. This summer, I experienced a major achievement when I reached out to a blogger at Crain’s Chicago Business, who agreed to cover the company on his New in Chicago blog. After that, the founder asked me to take on a larger role in public relations, because he hired a public relations specialist, who actually came up empty. As a result of my public relations efforts, I was able to have the company and an interview with the two co-founders featured on a blog from the Chicago Sun Times. While I consider these great accomplishments, I am hoping to have a greater public relations accomplishment—perhaps having the blog featured on Windy City Live, a television show (fingers crossed.) I am still writing articles for the blog with the express purpose of generating traffic to the website itself, as well as working on potential restaurant partnerships with Only A Date.
Meanwhile this summer, I was working at Evanston Now, a website committed to serve readers with independent, locally produced news about Evanston. During this internship, I was able to go out to a parade, three art festivals, a youth triathlon, a pretrial hearing for first-degree murder, a recycling fair, two political meetings, a press conference, and a summer program showcase and report on them. This internship requires me to utilize the basics of newswriting as well as my multimedia skills. Like many real-life journalists today, I was taking my own photographs, capturing and editing my own videos, and writing my own stories. While working for Evanston Now, I learned valuable communication skills, and that it is okay to make mistakes sometimes—that is how you learn. The past two months I have been able to work on my writing skills, interview many interesting locals, and do visual work with photography and videos. In the future, I plan to write about a Hispanic heritage celebration, the kick-off to Hispanic heritage month, and a local pizzeria.
When I began my internship search, I was looking for a summer internship at a small publication where I could take on a lot of responsibility and perhaps do some visual work (like photojournalism.) This is what Evanston Now and Only A Date, my two summer internships provided for me. I was fortunate enough to have two internships in one, meaningful summer.
Jennifer Ball is a rising junior studying journalism at the Medill School. She spent her summer in Chicago and Evanston interning at online dating startup OnlyADate and hyperlocal online news website Evanston Now.
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