Planning to get an internship at a newspaper? Really excited? As you should be, it’s an amazing opportunity but there are some things you ought to keep in mind before you start. Coming from a current newspaper intern, trust me, take a couple of minutes and read this because it’ll definitely be worth your while.
#1 If you love writing as a hobby, you may not like it as a career.
As the saying goes, “Don’t mix business with pleasure.” If you tend to write on a whim or based on sudden inspiration in a sporadic pattern, then you may not like writing with time constraints and deadlines looming ahead of you. On the other hand, you may love it just as much. In the end, it depends whether you are extrinsically or intrinsically motivated.
#2 Your mentor may or may not be responsive to your enthusiasm and overflowing ideas.
If you’re lucky you’ll be able to work under an attentive mentor but if not, don’t worry it’s not personal, I assure you. Newspaper organisations are always busy from the word go and so is your boss. He or she may not have time to pay you individual attention. What you can do is ask them for a few spare minutes and use them to pitch a few of your best ideas and gather his or her feed back.
#3 Don’t be disappointed if your work doesn’t get published in the paper.
If your plan is purely to get published, you’re going in with the wrong attitude. Interns are supposed to learn and if you get a by-line along the way, then kudos to you but what you take away from the internship should be experience (and if you’re lucky enough to get a paid internship, then a little moolah too).
Gate-keeping and agenda-setting are important processes in the world of news and priority is given to huge stories, more likely to be covered by senior reporters than an intern. This shouldn’t get in the way of doing your best while on the field though!
#4 Know your strengths well enough to choose between the bureau and the desk.
For those of you who don’t know which is which, the Bureau is the reporting section and the Desk is the editing section. More often than not, interns go in with dreams of digging up a huge story and not that of polishing it up. As you can imagine, editing is severely underrated but so very important. So if you’re not one to report and you’re more of a grammar Nazi (like myself) then pick the desk!
#5 Make sure you’re suited to write for a newspaper.
This may sound a bit obvious, I mean why would you want to intern at a newspaper unless you really wanted to? Then again, after working at an organisation, you may come to realize that you’re more of a blogger, a niche magazine writer or that you’d enjoy the freedom of freelance journalism.