At the beginning of the 2020 spring semester, I had an internship with South Jersey Magazine. In addition to writing for The Whit for a good part of the school year, this was something that I added to my resume and gave me a taste of real-world experience in the journalism field. I was excited not only for finally acquiring an internship but getting to learn from experienced staff writers and editors in a premier publication environment.
Everything was going great from late January to mid-March. I met some great people, learned the ins-and-outs of the magazine writing and publishing industry and got a feel for how they ran things. The work environment was relaxing; I played trivia throughout parts of the day and laughed at jokes made by some of the editors. Sometimes, there were moments where it got hectic or boring.
I won’t lie to you, the beginning of each month is boring because that’s when they’re finalizing the upcoming edition. You spend the entire five hours researching stories for the next edition that will either be replaced with more interesting stories or reach the expiration date on the timeliness factor.
Despite all of that, I learned new things that I didn’t know, not that I wouldn’t have learned about them in any of my journalism classes. Despite not being a morning person, I was excited every Monday and Wednesday to see what was in store. I wrote blurbs and even a small food column that were all published.
Then, March 16 hit. While spring break began on that date, it was also when the coronavirus pandemic broke out. Governor Phil Murphy ordered a mandatory quarantine, which saw a lot of nonessential businesses close down and schools and universities switch to virtual classes for the rest of the school year and semester, respectively.
Then, the uncertainty began on whether my internship would resume or not. That uncertainty was answered when Professor Quigley, who was the journalism internship advisor, sent an email that all internships would be remote. I thought to myself, “it can’t be that bad.”
Well, it wasn’t really that bad doing the internship from home, considering I didn’t have to wake up at 8 a.m. every Monday and Wednesday and drive an hour from my home in Egg Harbor Township to Marlton. I got to sleep in AND save so much mileage and gas money.
If I have to be honest, though, doing the internship from home wasn’t the same. Sure, I did my normal tasks from the comfort of my own bed. I didn’t have to worry about rushing out to get to work on time because I was home and my work closed down due to the pandemic.
Despite those perks, I found myself not as motivated as I once was every time I came in for my shift. I did the work that I was required to do and still got to write blurbs that were eventually published, but I found myself zoning out and giving myself a lot of breaks just to find my focus again. The fresh stories that I would find before the pandemic started were gone because all the stories that I found during my remote experience were all coronavirus-related, which got repetitive.
It was a lousy experience doing the internship from home. I missed walking in and saying good morning to all of the staff members. I missed the friendly and laid back atmosphere of the office. Maybe everyone else’s internship experience was different but I wished things had had a different end result.
Despite all of that, I wouldn’t trade in those experiences for anything else. Before the internship, I was mainly a sports writer but had an open mind when I went to my interview. I even joked with the interviewer, who would be my supervisor, that despite wanting to be a sports beat writer, I wouldn’t mind covering a wedding. I wonder if she still remembers that conversation.
I came into that internship going from a sports writer to expanding my writing skills in many different areas. I got to learn under someone who is a former features editor. Shoutout to Sydney Kerelo. That experience helped me switch from sports to features, though I won’t rule out writing for sports again. Seeing how she and the other editors operated things was my biggest takeaway because that helped me gain confidence to run for a section editor position with The Whit, which I currently have.
Did I wish things had ended differently? Absolutely. The positives, however, outweighed the negatives. I was still learning at the end of the day, even if I was home. That short time at the office was enough to help me become the best editor I can be to my writers; being a strong communicator to my writers as well as being someone that they can come to whenever they have questions or concerns, whether it’s pitching me ideas or walking them through writing an article.
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