By Job Hunter | March 2nd, 2009
So, guess what? I got a job. Well, not really, but sort of.
I’m interning for a magazine near my hometown. And yes, it’s my fifth internship, and no, I’m not paid. But it’s better than waiting tables, which, by the way, is my actual job—part-time of course. I’m happy. That might be weird to say that spending about six hours, three days a week, fact-checking articles makes me happy, but it does. I’m also bitter. Sometimes to the point that I think it’s written across my face, in 12-point, sans-serif font. Whenever I feel that surge of pride, I quickly smile and hit the delete button in my mind. This industry has taught me humility—an important, but trying lesson to learn.
Enter Anna Davidson—the former intern turned part-time freelancer for this magazine. I graduated from college with her, she, an English major, I a journalism major. She contributed to our school’s student newspaper. I edited. She has the job. I don’t. So why her, not me?
“You always have to be willing to do the work,” said Anna, one day during a coffee break at the office. “Even if it kills you.”
If that’s the case, I should have written my epitaph three internships and ago. Maybe my downfall is money—it’s hard to fly to L.A. for an interview with a depleting savings account and part-time job. Other times I think timing—I interned during the middle of college, leaving job openings for the newly graduated. But excuses can only last so long.
I know my weaknesses—covering breaking news, timing, fact-checking, covering breaking news, spelling. (Did I mention covering breaking news?) I know my strengths too. Senior year of college I took a literary journalism class that spotlighted my creative writing and story-telling techniques. Illuminated by the muted glow of the projector, my professor pointed to a sample sentence, “Parallelism highlights the likeness of two clauses.”
“Ooh,” resounded the class.
“And this is the climax of the story.”
But dissecting articles with technical terms was never my thing. I can hear where parallelism is needed, I know how a story is formed. And while there are thousands of newly graduated journalism students who can learn to cover a fire or a city council meeting, learning to tell a story—or to even know what a story is—is much harder. Or, at least that’s what I tell myself when I read my peer’s work in between fact-checking articles at my internship and serving Irish beers at my job. (“Psh, you call that a lede?”)
Personal bitterness aside, I know my peers deserve their positions. Many are excellent writers and hard workers. I’m just jealous because I think I’m an excellent writer and a hard worker too. But until my fulltime reporting position comes, I’m going to hop in the backseat with a tall glass of pride, swallowing all the way. It’s gotta be my turn soon.