Surviving the internship

Jessica Scharien, an intern at BCBusiness and TV Week for the summer of ’08, returned to the study of journalism at Thompson Rivers University, in Kamloops, in September 2008.

I recently spent two months interning at Canada Wide Media, whose offices are in Burnaby. A resident of Kamloops, I was excited at the prospect of the “big city” and its offerings (Kamloopsians who don’t know better consider Burnaby the “big city”). And although I am heading into my fourth year of Journalism, have written a slew of articles, and am generally confident of my editorial abilities, upon entering that office, I felt like a fish out of water.

I discovered a few things that will help anyone survive an editorial internship:

Don’t let on that you sometimes have no idea what’s going on
You’ll become more self-reliant and confident in your abilities by default. Figure things out for yourself and ask for help only when absolutely necessary.

Eavesdrop often
I can’t tell you how valuable it was for me to throw that social norm out the window. Unbeknownst to my officemates, they were my best source of information—and gossip! They taught me a lot.

Jessica Scharien

Make certain you know the tone and audience of your publication
Pitch is everything, and having a finely-tuned ear—not only for language, but for your target reader—is a skill sure to ingratiate you to your editors.

Revel in positive feedback
Enjoy any praise you get for your accomplishments, then get on with your work. You’re only as good as your last assignment. Conversely, don’t dwell on criticism: your writing will undoubtedly suffer.

Take charge
Try to do this without stepping on toes, of course. It’s essential to show that you’re eager to contribute, even if it means getting out of your comfort zone. Perhaps one way to do this is by—cough—writing a blog entry, your first ever.

Kiss ass but know where to draw the line
A publishing house is populated with editors and journalists, people with an anorexic appetite for insincerity.

Embrace the overall opportunity
Regardless of your feelings about your internship when it ends, you’ll have learned something from it—not only about magazines and media, but also about yourself and what you want in life.