INTERNSHIP AUGUST Spotlight Post #4: Accepting my mistakes while learning to report for a daily newspaper
Last week, we told you about Vermont Cynic staffer Taylor Feuss being accepted as the latest USA Today collegiate correspondent for our region. Today, as part of Internship August, we present her account of the summer internship that she was finishing up when USA Today snagged her.
Coincidence? Probably not. After all, the best way to get your next job is to kick booty in your current job. Part of that experience, Feuss says, involves making mistakes . . .
BY TAYLOR FEUSS
- The position: News Features Intern
- The company: The Bergen Record
- The place: North New Jersey
In my time working as managing editor at The Vermont Cynic I knew that I had a passion for journalism. I knew that this was a field that I wanted to explore. That passion is what drove me to begin searching (in October!) for a summer internship close my home in northern New Jersey.
A good family friend of mine was the former editor-in-chief of our region’s most popular publication, The Bergen Record, and therefore he had connections at various publications in the area. He put me in contact with many people, from managing editors to operations directors.
The journey of getting in contact with someone so high up at these professional organizations, is just that, a journey—and a rough one at that. These people get so many emails daily, so I knew that I had to make my mark, I had to show how interested in the position I was, how I was the perfect candidate, and I had to make sure that my voice was heard.
I constantly emailed them pieces that I’d written, or I would send them an email just to check in. This determination and dedication is what helped me stand out from the other applicants and helped me land the job.
I started my work as a features intern/staff writer in early June. Now, I consider myself to be a primarily news and sports writer, but in this field you need to be well versed in everything. I was excited to learn more about features writing and improve myself as a journalist.
However, I struggled at first to make my writing seem less “newsy” and more of the features style that was expected of me. I felt I wasn’t learning anything beneficial for my career.
There were times that I didn’t do well; there were times that I screwed up (BIG) and lost faith in my ability as a journalist. But my mom sat me down and told me that this was normal, that everyone screws up and that I just have to keep pushing through, stand up for myself and keep being open to learning because that in itself is part of what being a journalist is about: screwing up, learning from it and getting back out there, pen in hand.
So I stopped feeling sorry for myself and worked even harder. Now as I sit at my desk on my last day, reflecting on the more than two months I’ve spent here, I know that I learned a lot. Learning how to write for features drastically improved my writing skills as a news writer and as a journalist in general.
I learned tricks for giving an interview. I also learned more about how journalism operates at a professional level. That will be key for me as I continue to move higher in the field.
Most of all I learned that I am going to mess up, I’m going to write some bad stories, I’m going to disagree with my editors, I’m going to get yelled at sometimes for my mistakes, but each and every part of that is a building block to make me into the journalist that I aspire to be.
As we tweeted yesterday, the Vermont Cynic managing editor has become the fifth Cynic journalist in just three years to be accepted as a USA Today collegiate correspondent. We asked the editor in question, Taylor Feuss, to give us a rundown of the competitive process that led her to the job.
BY TAYLOR FEUSS
Today (Aug. 11) I got the email that I was accepted into the fall 2014 USA Today Collegiate Correspondent Program! I had to pass through three rounds to get here.
The first involved applying with my resume, a cover letter, recommendation letter and so on. The second round I had to write an original article (500 words) of something that pertained to college students.
I chose to write about American students abroad in Israel during wartime. I interviewed people from multiple college campuses that were on Birthright Israel, and I interviewed a fellow colleague of mine at the Cynic who was working as an intern at The Jerusalem Post.
For round three we had to have a 15-minute interview with people from the collegiate correspondent program.
They started off the convo by congratulating me, saying that more than 100 students apply for this and only 10 made it to the final round. I’m not sure how many of us made it all the way through.
They asked how I respond in certain stressful situations and then asked me to come up with a story idea that pertains to college students, on the spot.
My idea was related to a friend at UMass Amherst who has Cystic Fibrosis. He recently got an infection from another student while working in a science lab for the summer. The infection can be fatal, and now he must change his whole way he lives. They thought it was an interesting and different idea.
Working at the Cynic I have seen other students before me—such as Devin Karambelas and Katy Cardin—working for the program, and I always looked up to them. I knew that this program was something I wanted to be a part of. So this summer I went out on a limb and applied.
Here are all the dates for completing the process for the fall program.
- July 6 – July 22: Application is open
- July 25: Notification to those moving to second round of application process
- August 4: Notification to those selected for final round of application process
- August 11: Fall 2014 Collegiate Correspondents notified & Contributing Writer Program invitations issued
- August 25: Program begins
- August 25 – December 12: Fall Collegiate Correspondent Program
Natalie DiBlasio—the 2011 Cynic editor-in-chief and now a full-time USA Today reporter—was also a great mentor and role model throughout the process. I learned so much from her. She is fantastic.
It’s such an honor to be accepted into this great program! I am beyond excited to begin working for USA TODAY and follow in the footsteps of my former Cynics. I look forward to learning all that I can from the experience, on my way to becoming a better journalist.
Here’s her end-of-internship report.
BY CALLIE MAE BOWEN
Over this past summer, I was given the amazing opportunity to be a sales rep intern for the Hollywood Reporter, while attending the International Cannes Film Festival.
In order to be offered this internship, I completed a rigorous application process for the Creative Mind Group, an organization that accepts students from all over the world and allows them to travel to different international film festivals, in order to intern with different media companies, network with different industry professionals and create short films while attending the festival events.
Traveling with the Creative Mind Group was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Walking to work every morning was one of my favorite parts of my internship. I was no longer a tourist at the festival; I belonged there. I would leave my hotel early in the morning and get on my shuttle to take me to the Palais. Once I was off the shuttle and in the heart of downtown Cannes, I would head over to the nearest bakery. The streets were crowded with unbelievable amounts of people, but the alluring smell of the fresh croissants always lead my way. From there, I walked briskly past the first premiere of the day where I would get my first glimpse of the day of celebrities. Their glimmering dresses and handsome suits would always catch my eye, but I knew I had hard work to do before I could enjoy that myself.
Once I got to work, my boss would tell me my daily responsibilities, and I would get started.
During their time at the festival, THR had daily issues of the magazine for the week. Within each issue the different production companies who were at the festival would advertise so that all the attendees of the festival could see their work.
One of my larger responsibilities was to deliver the daily issues of the magazine to each of the production companies that advertised within them and work one on one with those companies to discuss their ad. In addition, part of my position was picking up tickets for premieres, getting more magazine orders, and delivering messages from the different venues of each company. THR was located on the terrace of the Marriott in Cannes, where we often had several producers and directors having different business meetings all at the same time, so another element of my job was to organize this area.
While I was not at my internship during the day, I was attending the world premieres, going to production company parties and networking with industry professionals at night. It was phenomenal to be able to go to these screenings and meet different directors and producers from around the world that just happened to be sitting next to you.
I still stay in touch with most of them today. Overall, this internship has been one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life.
Check out our previous INTERNSHIP AUGUST posts:
As UVM media students wrap up internships this month, we’re featuring several to showcase how students find their internships, what they do once in the workplace, and what they’ve learned. Today’s post comes from Cam Kostyra, the business director at UVM’s radio station, WRUV-FM.
BY CAM KOSTYRA
- The position: Business Development Intern
- The company: Reservoir Media Management, a music publishing company
- The place: West Village in New York City
I first applied to Reservoir when I was abroad in Florence, Italy, which is where I received the email from them about applying for an internship. It was through a Listserv that I was on that had music internship applications from publishing companies, record labels, management companies, etc.
Reservoir Media is a music publishing company, and that sounded like something I wanted to learn more about. Music is something that I have always been passionate about whether it be listening to it or playing it, and the possibility of working in the music industry is something I had my sights set on.
With my credentials being a business major with a concentration in finance and not having any music business background, I applied for the Business Development Intern position. I was so psyched when I got an offer to intern there because I was finally able to get my foot in the door and possibly see if such an experience could turn into a career.
I was nervous going into it because, since I wasn’t a music business student, I was not familiar with music publishing, syncs, copyrights, etc. However I was eager to learn, and I used my prior knowledge and what I learned in my classes to make the best out of this situation.
I didn’t want to leave this internship empty-handed because to me there was a lot I wanted to get out of it. I worked with the Financial Associate, who was a great mentor, teaching me about the copyrights of songs, looking at the industry as a whole and just giving me insight on his personal views, which was what I really needed to hear.
The presence of the office was laid back and exciting at the same time due to the possible deals that were to happen and the representatives of artists that came through. While interning at Reservoir, I was on the grind, going five days a week commuting into New York City from where I live, right outside of the city in Westchester County.
The internship was unpaid, but I knew that such sacrifices might be necessary. Overall, I learned a lot at the internship about music publishing, the music industry, finance and the next steps for myself in the future.
CHECK OUT THIS PREVIOUS INTERNSHIP AUGUST POST:
The Princeton Review has just released the list of the country’s 20 best college newspapers.
You should go ahead and scroll down to Number 18.
“There are actual tears coming down my face,” Managing Editor Taylor Feuss said upon hearing about the ranking. “We’ve worked so hard just to be great for our own standards, but to be recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the best in the country is something I could only dream of.
“It’s really such an honor.”
Editor-in-Chief Natalie Williams added, “It’s incredible. I’ve seen the paper go through so many transformations in my past three years on staff. It’s so cool to see the constant improvements.
“I am most proud of the staff because we have no journalism program. These are self-motivated students learning on their own, teaching their peers and doing it really well. How often do you find that at any school?”
Newspapers on the list are a mix of dailies, like The Daily Tar Heel of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and weeklies, like The Cynic.
NOTE:Accessing the full list of newspapers on the Princeton Review website requires visitors to create a Princeton Review account. The same list, with commentary from college media analyst Dan Reimold, can be found on his blog, no login required.
UVM junior Aviva Loeb, layout editor for The Vermont Cynic, spent a month this summer interning at The Jerusalem Post in Israel. She fled the country July 10 as violence between Israel and Palestine intensified. This is her account.
BY AVIVA LOEB
After three Israeli teens were killed earlier this summer by terrorists connected to Hamas, my reporting duties for The Jerusalem Post brought me to a candlelit vigil in downtown Jerusalem, only a few blocks from my hotel, which was my home base for the internship of a lifetime.
The evening vigil was so peaceful and respectful, I couldn’t have predicted what came next.
Just a day later, a protest I was covering quickly turned violent, with protesters chanting “Death to Arabs” and “Revenge” in Hebrew. They argued with police officers. They pushed and shoved.
One Israeli spit on an Arab man who had stopped his car, an easy mark because Arab cars have different-colored license plates than Jewish cars.
Most people know what came next. On July 2, right-wing Israelis killed a Palestinian teenager and dumped his body in the Jerusalem Forest as an act of revenge.
The other Post interns and I scanned Facebook groups looking for protests, eventually covering four in the next week. One story made the front page, a coup for any intern. At the time, we joked that the interns were developing the newspaper’s “protest beat.”
Then tensions rose. Riots broke out in Arab neighborhoods near my apartment. Protesters set tires on fire and threw rocks at police. I stopped taking public transportation.
Living under rocket fire from Hamas isn’t unusual for Israelis. In fact, they’ve built this contraption called the Iron Dome, which intercepts rockets fired at the country. It’s pretty accurate too, boasting a 90 percent success rate. But this level of violence was new for me.
I remember sitting outside on a crowded downtown street when the sirens went off in Jerusalem for the first time in years, sounding enough like an ambulance that it was hard to tell when we were supposed to be running. But my roommate and I ran, genuinely for our lives.
You have a minute-and-a-half to find a bomb shelter, even less if you live in other parts of Israel. We had no idea where to look—or even what we were looking for. Thankfully, we were only a block away from our hotel. Once there, we ran down flight after flight of stairs. We must have descended far below ground level. It was cool and slightly damp. Children were crying. Adults frantically made phone calls.
“They won’t hit Jerusalem,” people told me. “They can’t even reach us.” But against all odds they had. The rockets were mostly intercepted by the Iron Dome, although one fell about 45 miles outside the city onto an open field.
Israel was at war with Hamas.
In that moment in the bomb shelter, I decided that I wanted to go home. Back to Burlington, my hometown. Back to safety. Back to where everyone got along and we never had bad news of this magnitude.
Everyone told me that this was part of Israel, but it was a part I had no interest in experiencing. I never wanted to see the inside of a bomb shelter again.
Crying over the phone, I called my boss and explained to him that I had decided to leave. He understood, as did the seven other American interns who in a month had become some of my closest friends. This was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. I didn’t want to leave my friends; I didn’t want to leave my internship.
But I didn’t want to spend three more weeks living in fear.
At the airport the next day, I heard the sirens go off again. Nobody knew what to do because this had never happened at the airport, right in the center of the country, as far away from Gaza or the West Bank as it could be.
We walked rather than ran to the shelter, which wasn’t big enough to hold everyone. I squeezed into the crowded room, which could only be distinguished as a bomb shelter because it had no windows. I overheard a British man tell his friend over the phone that he had seen the rocket off in the distance.
When the 10-minute waiting period was up, we filed out, and business at the airport went back to normal.
Once I was in the air, I thought about getting right back on a plane and returning to Israel. I missed my friends, my office and my roommates. But landing in New York was the best feeling in the world. I was grateful to be back on American soil, so close to home and so safe.
No one truly wins in a war. Hundreds of lives have been lost and homes destroyed. My first few days back in Burlington didn’t seem real. As grateful as I was to be home, it felt like a bad dream that I couldn’t wake up from.
My heart is still in Israel, with my friends and coworkers who have stayed to brave the rocket fire.
Aviva Loeb’s summer internship changed radically when fighting broke out between Israel and Hamas. She took all of the protest photos featured above. The snapshots below show her working as a Jerusalem Post reporting intern.
Sure, you’ve always suspected that WRUV was the best radio station around. But now it’s official.
Local alt-weekly Seven Days today announced the winners of the 2014 Seven Daysies awards—essentially the readers-choice awards for the Northeastern Vermont set. WRUV came out on top, being named top college radio station.
In giving the award, the editors write on their website: “Few commercial stations have the staying power of the University of Vermont’s WRUV. With both students and community-member adults at the mike, the station has been pumping out eclectic programming since 1955.”
WRUV, the radio voice of the University of Vermont, is a non-profit, non-commercial station made up of UVM students, staff and community members. The station made its official broadcast debut from its studios in the a campus barn in January 1955.
The station follows a rule of originality: Programming for each show is chosen by a show’s DJ—and WRUV has more than 100 DJs playing at any one time in 84 different shows. The material broadcast by on 90.1 FM or streamed on WRUV.org is unique.
Other finalists in the college radio were WGDR 91.1 FM of Goddard College, WJSC 90.7 FM of Johnson State College, WRMC 91.1 FM of Middlebury College Radio and WWPV “The Mike” 88.7 FM of Saint Michael’s College.