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INTERNSHIP AUGUST Spotlight Post #4: Accepting my mistakes while learning to report for a daily newspaper

August 20, 2014

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.

Taylor Feuss

Taylor Feuss

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.

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