The morning of my first internship consisted of me giving myself a completely self effacing evaluation, despite my father’s attempts to convince me otherwise.
“You’re going to do fine,” he said.
“I’m not going to be able to live up to their expectations, they’ll see through the act and realise I’ve no idea what I’m doing,” I said hoping out of the car.
My dad gave me one of his signature firm handshakes, smiled, looked me deep in the eyes and said; “I can’t pick you up this arvo, I’ve got to drop off the kids.”
It warmed the heart.
So I walk a few meters to where I’m soon greeted by a large beige building with QUEST printed on a placard out the front of it. I trudge up the stairs where I enter the office and am greeted by my first obstacle.
No one’s there. Wait, I lied. People are there, I can hear their voices – but the receptionist isn’t. My eyes dart across the empty office to a bell that’s sitting on the counter.
Please God no, a bell. I know I’m being melodramatic, but the last think I want in completely unfamiliar territory is to actually have to initiate the encounter I’m about to have. What if they don’t hear it? What if they do hear it and think it’s too loud? What if I ring it and nobody comes? Then I’ll have to do the unthinkable and ring it again.
So anyway I ring it.
I’m welcomed by a journo, Alex who shakes my hand and brings me through the oddly sedate looking office to meet the editor Gary, who’s a cool guy. He shows me the ropes, gives me the tour, and runs me through a set of rules and expectations. And then he said something that profoundly rocked my world, something that will be read from my Wikipedia entry detailing the successful and prolific history that was my life.
“… and here’s your desk,” he said.
I pause. I don’t think he grasps the overall gravitas of what he’s just uttered. Here’s a desk, and it’s mine.
He smiles and I sit down to take in the surroundings. My desk is pressed up against the wall with the editorial desk flanking my left in the middle of the room with the four journo’s who are sitting in a rounded cubicle on my right.
I sit for about an hour or so reading paperwork and taking notes when the editor for the Southern Star strolls in and points to a press release sitting askew on the upper extremities of the desk. I keenly jump into it, looking over the thing and mentally prepping myself for the phone call I’d eventually have to make.
Emily arrives soon after and I get acquainted with her, hashing out what’s happened and what she’s up to.
We’re both given media releases to chase, prompting us to get down to work. Taking turns on the only working computer, I manage to complete two stories.
Lunch comes round late today and we resolve to walk down to this little sushi joint not 50m away from the office. We nom on our noodles whilst talking about the day – at this point the only real grievance is with one of the computers lack of internet, which certainly inhibits our processing of stories.
We return feeling slightly lethargic from lunch where decide that, given the lack of things to do on the quiet public holiday; Emily and I both confirm with the editor that it’s OK to bail.
The following morning we arrive to a slightly more regimented day – with the editor taking us through to THE CONFERENCE ROOM to square out details on the coming week’s stories.
I have to say, and I know it’s been a common refrain with other interns, but it’s nothing from what I expected. Conventional wisdom suggests was that there would be fierce deadlines, competitive colleagues and stern editors, however when I ask when he’d like the articles done the answer is usually a resounding, “Ah… Friday I guess.” It’s nice. And I can tell that Emily digs the vibe as well – the expectations are reasonable and there’s no pressure to perform at light-speed.
We’re given a set of stories (some long, some short) to prepare by the end of the week and we get straight into working on those. Scouring and dissecting media releases I manage to get through a few stories, organising a photo shoot for tomorrow morning as well as setting up a few interviews as well.
P.S. Emily, not a moment goes by where I don’t feel guilty for hogging the computer.