Ten weeks ago, I wrote a column, outlining my plans for the future: go to graduate school, major in international journalism, travel the world.
Most of that still holds true. I still plan on going to graduate school in the fall of 2012, and someday I want to travel. But my major? The subject matter that will guide me along a career path?
That, I’m not so sure about. And I couldn’t be happier about it.
Sometimes—and I have denied it to my mom for years, so she’ll be happy to read this—I get wrapped up in a vision of “bigger is better.”
Not in a materialistic way, but in a become-known-change-the-world-ignore-the-smaller-alternatives-when-they-might-be-better-suited-to-you way.
Ambition, determination, and passion are qualities of my personality I really like. I strive to learn more about society, understand the world, and question things.
These qualities may lead me to one day report on the tribes in the Horn of Africa or the oppressed women in India, and hopefully, they will, because I feel strongly about global activism.
But focusing solely on those issues, not attempting to dip my toes into other things, will be my downfall. That is the greatest lesson I have ever learned, and I owe it all to the Pioneer News.
If I hadn’t taken this internship, I would have never known how much I truly enjoy writing profiles of people—from free-spirited artists to 16-year-old Evangelical Christians, from cancer survivors to accomplished students.
I wouldn’t have understood the importance of connecting an article to the community, and providing a story for a reader who really wants to hear it.
I stared blankly at Tom Barr when he read my article during my first week and asked, “What are her parents’ names?” Now, I understand how much it means to friends, teachers and grandparents.
When several people throughout the last few weeks thanked me for my stories, I was taken aback. In my last internship, stories were not looked at emotionally, but as well-structured pieces of work.
And my problem, or possibly, my strength, is how much I enjoy interviewing subjects, connecting with them, and retelling their story in a way that evokes emotions from readers.
Community journalists have an unyielding determination to serve the public and share stories of people, and work just as hard, if not harder, than any paper out there. That is a valuable lesson, one that no journalism class or big-time internship could ever teach me.
When I walked through the office door in May, I was half-expecting an internship experience that most students fear: grabbing coffee, proofreading, and calling random people about their subscriptions.
What I received was directions to an interview and an assignment to write “until I was done.” The story was due by the end of the day, something that I struggled with, usually preferring to revise three or four times.
I finished it that afternoon, nervous and upset about not getting the chance to sleep on the topic for a night or two, but I couldn’t be more thankful for the challenge. I was thrown into an unfamiliar situation, and that’s what I have been asking for since I started studying journalism, because it’s the best way to learn.
I haven’t come close to mastering the skill, but I recently wrote a story in 20 minutes flat and almost jumped out of my seat from excitement.
I’ve had a taste of everything at the Pioneer News; I attended the last few weeks of school events, experienced a train derailment, court cases, car accidents, the county fair, and holiday celebrations. Photography, which used to be just a hobby, became part of my job. I even had the chance to shoot and edit video. In the field of journalism today, having well-rounded skills is important, and though I’m nowhere near calling myself a photojournalist, I gained experience.
This summer has flown by, and I feel as though I have matured a great deal as a person, student, and journalist. Simultaneously, life has become much more confusing—but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
Writing for this newspaper has been such a rewarding and educational experience, and I will miss it greatly. I have met people I will never forget, and, though everyone teases “the girl from Middletown,” I have become quite attached to Bullitt County.
The future is intimidating, but it’s comforting to know that through this experience, I proved to myself I can be a professional journalist.
I have also come to realize that I am only (almost) 21, and there is plenty of time to figure out where that career path will lead me, so I can stop worrying so much and enjoy myself.
Always fast-paced and impatient, I’ve grown up thinking city life would suit me. But I’ve learned that Shepherdsville suits me, too.
Working for The New York Times isn’t the only way to find amazing stories, because they are everywhere, waiting to be told. It’s just as easy to change or influence a life here as it is anywhere else in the world.
That’s what I have always loved about journalism, and working at The Pioneer News has reiterated it one thousand times over.