Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Just go with it

I started my second internship last week. Truth be told, I had a love/hate relationship with my last internship. It was a great opportunity to be a part of the Savannah Book Festival as their social media intern and it was amazing experience to put on my resume, but it was a lonely and frustrating assignment.

I spent my 100 hours of the internship at home on my computer on Facebook and Twitter communicating with people who could basically care less that I existed. While I did make a few connections with some of the authors, for the most part, I was just a cyber-stalker working for free. Eventually the job would end and only a few people would ever recognize my face if they saw me walking down the sidewalk on Broughton Street.

But this new internship has already changed something inside me—and in a good way. I was able to land an editorial/writing position at Savannah Magazine. My first day was very surreal. Savannah Magazine was my first glimpse into Savannah when I moved here 8 years ago. So to be sitting at my own desk in their office and writing stories that will appear on their pages is dreamlike to say the least.

What’s ironic is that this internship was last on my list—a former intern had told me I wouldn't get a chance to write very much for the magazine and I thought I wanted a public relations internship. But after months of sending out failed requests to work for people for free, I began to realize that I better change my attitude about a journalism internship. For whatever reason, I was meant to take this offer.

My background is in journalism. My last year as an undergrad was spent in the basement of our student center in the newsroom. I would have lived there if they would have let me. I loved going out and finding stories and talking to people. I knew I had to do it for the rest of my life.

But when I married my ex-husband the week after I graduated, I didn’t get my chance to be a reporter again for almost 2 years. The Army makes it tough for a spouse to hold a job—no one wants to hire you because they know you will move and it’s hard to become passionate about a job that you know you will have to leave. I was a substitute teacher for those 2 years—not much a story there.

We moved to Fairbanks, Alaska and I was able to get on as a copy editor and then move on to reporter. That was the last time I worked in journalism and I left with a very bitter taste in my mouth. I swore I my days as girl reporter were over.

It wasn’t until a few days ago that I realized why I became so frustrated with working in the world of journalism. First of all, it’s easy to get burned out when you are surrounded by stories of people dying, people committing crimes, and children being abuse. But most importantly, most of the people I worked with in Fairbanks treated me like garbage.

I was the newbie and I was about 10 to 15 years younger than most of them. It took me over a year before they accepted me into their circle. But about 6 months later, the Army came calling and I had to pack my bags and say goodbye.

Sometimes I feel like I forced myself to believe that I hated being a reporter because I knew deep down that I could never make a career at it with the Army moving me around everywhere. My ex never really liked for me to work and he didn’t seem the least bit interested in my choice of career. It was easy to turn my back on that life.

This past week at the magazine has awakened something inside me that has been hibernating for the past 11 years. Savannah Magazine is housed in a large building that also holds The Savannah Morning News and several television news stations. It’s the hub of news for Savannah (although my friends at South magazine would disagree) and you can feel it the minute you walk through the double glass doors.

Everyone at the magazine has been more than welcoming to me. I already feel like I’m part of their established group. I actually feel like they are nice to me because I fit in and not that they feel sorry for me because I’m a 37-year-old grad student.  There is this instant feeling of mutual respect that I am humbled by.

I also realized something about myself this past week. I am meant to be a reporter. For some reason, it is natural to me. While my style is still too newsy for the magazine world, I can already feel a natural progression into this job. I like the fact that magazine writing is not news heavy like newspaper writing—I think constantly reading hard news stories was a big part of my total burnout. And I know it’s something I could do for the rest of my life because it the first job I’ve had in a long time where I don’t find myself wishing I were at home with my children. I’m glad I got this second chance.

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