As much as I hated to admit it, I needed to find an internship. Being in Medill for two years without interning somewhere feels akin to getting a makeover at the mall without purchasing any makeup. With my potential humiliation in mind, as well as the handy extra line it would add to my resume, I searched for internships back home.
Although Orange County has risen in notoriety from shows like The Hills, The OC, and The Real Housewives, news of national interest is rare. That being said, there are a number of media outlets in the area, so I figured it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a magazine nearby. I narrowed down my search, and decided to apply for Orange Coast Magazine, a leading lifestyle magazine in the county. The process was long and new to me, but once I got through the applications and pitches, it was worth it when I found out I got the position.
My first day was what I had expected: lots of fact-checking! Since a large chunk of the magazine’s content is on dining, I was able to speak to many of the chefs and managers at top restaurants in the area. I’ve learned a lot of fairly useless facts, like which chef is the driving force behind which restaurant in the area, and what a sommelier is.
One day I came in, expecting to go through the usual fact-checking routine. Instead, the editor had a different assignment. Another intern and I were to go through a list from the coroner’s office and categorize the past 20 years’ worth of homicides in Orange County. It took us seven hours, and it left me a bit scarred to read the descriptions of how people were murdered. By taking the time to read through and label these people, though, I felt like they were being recognized, not simply left as nameless statistics lost in paperwork.
Another thing the interns have been working on is our story ideas. We pitched a total of fifteen researched ideas for stories. The editors talked about them, and returned a marked up copy of what we sent them. They also told us which ones to pursue. I am currently working on a story about a finishing school for young girls in the area.
A huge part of the intern experience is receiving feedback for ideas. I don’t like being criticized. At first, it was difficult for me to see things crossed out and changed so often in my rough drafts. Now, I am beginning to understand the editorial process, as well as learning to edit my own work better.
I’ve learned that I don’t want to work in this type of magazine, but I have also come to appreciate the beauty of long form writing, injected with each author’s individual spirit and personality. I have reassured myself that this is the work I want to do, and that society will always appreciate a prosaic take on current events.
Brooke Wanser is a rising junior in Medill working on her minor in psychology. She aspires to become an investigative journalist, reporting and writing stories involving major political, cultural, and societal issues.