This is part of a series where we ask Grady College students to describe their summer internship experience.
Briefly describe your internship and your responsibilities.
I’m basically a full-time reporter. Because I’m an intern I don’t do a lot of breaking news or anything, but I write and report stories for the Athens Banner-Herald website.
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned so far?
As a health reporter, I spend a lot of time talking to the people who are most involved and affected by the subject I’m writing about. This involves a combination of trauma-informed reporting and taking the time to establish trust with the person you’re interviewing. The most important lesson I’ve learned as I’ve stepped into my first full-time reporting role is that I need to schedule more time for these meetings. It is a huge privilege to have a stranger share a vulnerable and often difficult experience with you. It means a lot to me when I click with someone and have a conversation that goes longer than expected. However, it’s also super important to be mindful of time and respect the schedule of whoever you’re meeting with next.
What about this position has surprised you?
How much freedom I have in my reporting. It’s honestly been really amazing – I’ve had the opportunity to take a lot of initiative in this role. Most of the stories I cover are ones I’ve personally pitched and I’m really grateful for the trust my editors have given me in pursuing the leads I think are important.
What is a challenge or a benefit of working remotely?
The flexibility! My schedule heavily depends on my sources’ availability. Often folks are talking to me after work or on their days off, which means that my hours fall outside the traditional 9-5 office work day. I do love coming into the office for meetings and to talk to my coworkers, but it’s nice to not need to worry about carving out time on-site and to instead focus on getting to know the community and writing. I think the challenge is to not over-do it. In my experience office culture has a lot of built-in down time which you don’t necessarily have at home and I’m still learning to pace myself and not overbook my schedule.
What advice would you give to other students looking to pursue similar opportunities?
Be a self-starter. Get familiar with the beat you’re working in and practice writing and reporting in your downtime (if you haven’t been able to land a paid internship opportunity yet, I highly recommend becoming a Red & Black contributor and applying to staff roles). The more you do journalism, the more experience and clips you’ll have when it comes to apply, and, more importantly, the more you’ll get to know the subjects you are writing about and have insight and story ideas that others might not.
What has been your favorite part about the internship so far?
My coworkers and the projects I’ve been working on. In my first two weeks I’ve had the opportunity to start working on a wide variety of stories, from enterprise to breaking news, covering everything from local elections to neighborhood cats. My editors have given me incredible feedback that’s had a huge impact on how I report, and the other journalists at the Athens Banner-Herald have been gracious and kind and really open to collaborating on stories with me.