Within hours of running into the Capitol newsroom on my first day as an intern, I was in the Governor's Reception Room covering the attorney general and governor's press conference on a new reentry program for Pennsylvania prisoners. Walking into the press conference with little preparation my first day on the job, knowing I had to walk out with a story for The Philadelphia Inquirer, I knew this internship would be different than my previous ones.
And I was right. As a post-graduate intern with the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents' Association this summer, I was supported, but not coddled; given independence, but not stranded. There was no coffee-fetching or sending faxes, but I was instead treated as one of the newsroom's own. I was trusted with stories on complex legislation and Pennsylvania's notorious budget problems, and was allowed opportunities to write enterprise pieces on topics that excited me.
I have had internships where I sat in a corner fact-checking all day, but that was not my experience with the PLCA. I was on the phone and running around the Capitol, typically writing a story per day or more. I felt like a real reporter rather than "the intern."
I was also able to get a feel for six different newspapers' rhythms. Each of my five two-week rotations flew by, each having a distinct feeling from the rest, and offering me new knowledge that I hadn't learned from the others. I was encouraged to inject more color into my stories for The Allentown Morning Call, incorporate multimedia elements into stories for PennLive, and report the hell out of long, investigative pieces for The Caucus. And each reporter I worked with at all six newspapers was eager to help me, answering my questions and encouraging me to grow.
I may have had a journalism degree under my belt going into this internship, but I sure had a lot to learn. This internship helped me fill in the gaps of my knowledge with valuable, well-rounded experience I truly don't think I could have gotten anywhere else, and helped me discover what kind of reporting I want to do in the future.
Penn State University, 2017