Wed, Jan

Internship offers not just job, but life experience


By Steph Berens

Two months ago, I walked into the newsroom for the first time. I suddenly found myself, a North American studies major with only a handful of journalistic experience, surrounded by a bunch of tough-guy reporters who run solely on coffee and cigarettes. Apparently, that environment was perfect for me to thrive in.

Nine weeks, 18 published articles, over 3,000 photos, and uncounted hours of waiting for my computer to cooperate later, my internship at Larson Newspapers is coming to an end — and I’m not ready to go.

During my time here, I got to experience so many cool things that completely exceeded all of my expectations. I saw my first dead person; got to go on a helicopter flight over Sedona to get some aerial shots; I photographed a firefighter training exercise and got to write three stories for the Lifestyles of Sedona magazine published by Larson Newspapers. Another highlight was the Sedona International Film Festival, where I accompanied photographer Jordan Reece in the media room and photographed interviews with actors and filmmakers.

I’m very thankful that Christopher Fox Graham, our editor, let me work so independently, but was still always there when I had questions or needed advice. That freedom made it possible for me to take advantage of every opportunity to learn and experience something new, and also challenge myself. I will never forget all of the things that I’ve learned here, just like I will never forget the people I was lucky enough to work with.

Reece brought out the camera nerd in me, used me as a lamp stand and packing mule — his equipment probably weighs more than I do — let me borrow his holy couple-of-a-thousand-dollar lenses, taught me to eliminate dead space and demonstrated how to write captions that will drive the copy editors crazy. Most importantly, he forced me to talk to and photograph people, and gave great pep-talks when my shy alter-ego didn’t think it could handle interaction with strangers.

Andrew Pardiac showed me how to write a good report and design an appealing front page. Graham perfected my skills in just guessing what he’s saying half of the time because he’s mumbling into his beard again, and told me to always befriend baristas and bartenders because they know all the gossip around town.

Ron Eland provided daily entertainment and advice on how to sneeze properly from beyond the wall that separates our cubicles; Michael Rinker demonstrated how to successfully kick someone out of one’s chair; Jo Page showed me the ropes on my first day and knows everything about how to keep office plants alive; and Daniel Hargis brightened my Fridays with his dinosaur doodles on my to-do-lists during staff meeting.

Internships do not only provide a glimpse into a career field and job experience. They expand comfort zones, teach soft skills, extend personal networks and most of all have the potential to become a time in life that will always be remembered.

I encourage young people to see internships not as just one more thing that looks good on a resume, but as opportunities to find something you love to do. And I encourage employers to offer these opportunities, to challenge interns and lay the foundations for their futures.

To everyone at Larson Newspapers, thank you. I can’t think of anyone I would have enjoyed working with more, and I will greatly miss you.

Steph Berens
Larson Newspapers Intern

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