Welcome to Chellelandia.

Dear Journalism Intern,

Thank you that you’re spending your internship with us. Personally, I’m very happy that you’re here because you can help unload from my shoulders some (not most, because I’m not a slavedriver) of the office tasks that bog me down almost everyday.

I look forward to hopefully, teaching you a thing or two on how to become a good reporter, so one day you can become an asset in a news media outlet should you decide to pursue a profession in what has become a mostly underpaid, under-appreciated, and high-risk industry.

But before we get started, let’s do a little expectations setting exercise, from our end. This is highly important, believe me. I’m quite positive that what you expect to get from your time interning with us is way different from what we expect to get out you as our intern. Our experiences with past journalism interns have taught us that your, and our, expectations are  not that different from what women expect out of men and vice-versa. It’s a Mars and Jupiter thing.

Don’t fret, though, because the time you spend reading this will already be counted into your internship work hour log, depending on how fast or slow a reader you are.

Shall we start?

First of all, let’s talk office attire. Please don’t show up looking like you’re about to go clubbing, or like you’ve just come from one. The stilettos and skin-tight, sheer or shiny, beaded tops would probably serve you well if you’re covering a fashion event (though I’m not sure since I’ve never covered a fashion event), but I’m sure you’re aware that you’re interning for a government information agency. I don’t want to hear you whining about your hurting feet when I drag you to do field work with me. Plus, I don’t want the other reporters, particularly the chauvinistic, sexist males – and there are quite a number of them here, trust me – bothering me to introduce them to you, or asking for your number. I’m not a pimp.

Second, be prepared. Did they not teach you in class to always bring your notebook and pen? Showing up without a pen or a notebook is like a soldier going to battle without a gun. I don’t have a spare notebook or pen to lend to you. I’m not being paid that much that I keep a hoard of pens in my drawer for ill-prepared interns.

Third, no spoon feeding. When I feed you an idea on what news item to write, don’t ask for my entire arm to go along with it. Why do you think they coined the phrase “nose for news”? You’re supposed to sniff out your sources. Don’t keep asking me for the names of who to interview, how to contact them, or where to reach them. I don’t keep a readymade checklist customized for you just to make your internship easy as a pie. You’re wasting precious time sitting there looking at me interviewing me, when you should have bolted out the door by now to hunt down your news source. Follow the bread crumbs. Yes, journalism is a dirty work, haven’t you heard?

Fourth, respect the deadline. When we tell you we need that story by tomorrow morning, we mean it. Don’t email me the story 3 days after with a note about how you had to visit a sick friend in the hospital, or your flash drive where you saved your news got corrupted. That story you just did is already old news, history, antique, ancient. The other reporters from the private news outlets already beat you to it. If this situation frequently happens for you, let me introduce you to Trash Bin. Because that’s where your stories will end up.

Fifth, do your research. Don’t ask me to give you a list of questions to ask during your interview. I’d rather do the interview myself, if that’s the case. I’m not your babysitter. I’m not going to walk you through your internship holding your hand gently while you ooh and ahh as I point out the shiny little things on the shelves. Yes, I will cut you some slack and show you the ropes, but I’m not going to climb that rope with you.

Sixth, don’t just disappear. We’ve had several interns who dropped from the grid all of a sudden after a couple of days in their internship. They all had what sounded like valid excuses (sick relatives, or they themselves got sick) when they came back. But it was happening far too often not to raise suspicion. If you’re not going to show up in the following days, do the right thing and let us know. If you think you can’t handle the pressure, please let us know. You can’t just come and go as you please.

Now, if you think all those expectations sound a bit harsh, let me tell you right now that the life of a mediaman is not glamorous and dandy. It’s hard work, and during your internship period, you’re supposed to get your feet wet. It’s your baptism of fire. I’m not being mean or intimidating, after all I was once an intern. I’m just being realistic, and you shouldn’t expect anything less than that.

If after reading this you still want to intern with us, I warmly welcome you. There’s coffee right there on the pantry, and the toilet papers are on top of the computer table to your left. Wi-Fi is free and on us, so feel free to bring your laptop into the office.

Sincerely yours,

Rachelle

P.S. – When the phone rings, please answer it. Only visitors and guests are not expected to answer the phone. Interns do not fall under those categories. Thank you.

2 Responses to “Dear Journalism Intern,”

  1. lynnemelcombe

    AS a freelancer, I’ve never had to deal with an intern, but this still sounds like damn good advice — and the writing is pretty funny, too. Great post!

    Reply
    • Rachelle Nessia

      Thank you Lynne! Salamat! This post was more of a rant, accumulated from my experiences with our interns for the past several years. I had the guts to write it now because we don’t currently have interns at the office.

      Reply

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