By Amethyst Martinez
With ‘searching for an internship’ season creeping up for college students, it can become extremely intimidating and difficult for those looking to find internships and fellowships that fit their interests, but also their resume.
I hear my peers say it all the time: “Why do we need to do internships?” or, “This just feels like a waste of time and my summer.”
One thing I learned last year is that I certainly didn’t waste my June, July or August.
I remember getting the email saying the editor of the biggest internship I applied to, NJ Advance Media, who owns NJ.com and The Star-Ledger, wanted to speak on the phone with me after our interview a few weeks prior. I couldn’t help but think the worst: maybe they wanted me to apply next year, or I wasn’t the right fit. I knew amazing journalism students across the Northeast applied, some who may have had stronger resumes or more writing experience than me. I was terrified.
I went outside of The Rider News newsroom, took off my sandals and put my feet in the grass. At this very moment, I needed to feel grounded and connected. I dialed his number and waited for his answer. It rang up until the last ring.
“Hi, this is Amethyst Martinez. I’m just calling you to follow up on your email sent to me today.”
As soon as I got off the phone, tears rolled down my cheeks. I couldn’t fathom the news I just got: I was going to spend the summer covering my home, New Jersey, for the biggest newspaper in the state.
This was the biggest turning point of my life. I nervously anticipated June, spending my last month in school constantly thinking about how I was going to do during my internship. I hoped every night that I was going to make my family, friends and mentors proud of me. I saved up my money to buy professional clothes and a new pair of loafers. After what felt like the longest month of my life, I was finally ready to start what I didn’t know would be the most rewarding three months I’ve ever had in my 21 years of life.
Due to COVID-19, my internship was hybrid, but I tried not to let that affect me too much. I knew this was my chance to prove myself to those in my life who thought being a journalist wouldn’t be a good career path for me, and I had to take full advantage of that.
Joining the Zoom call named “Newsroom Hour,” I remember being so amazed hearing about all of these incredible reporters speak about their experiences and the stories they were working on. It made my entire perspective on journalism change, from the inside out.
Across my three month internship, I traveled across the state covering elections, writing features and more. I never thought that I could learn so much just by doing a more applicational method of education versus sitting in my three-hour-a-week classes that made me feel like journalism might not have been for me. With the internship, it proved to me that I was able to do this, without fear of being thrown out into the ‘real world’ after college.
I think that’s the most important thing to take out of internships; I know it may seem pointless and a waste of your free time, but it gives you the opportunity to work in the real world with real professionals. It gave me the realization that I needed to continue pursuing my degree in journalism, and showed me how rewarding being a reporter can be. Every journalist I worked with during my time at my internship was nothing but an immense help, and showed me tips and tricks that I still am able to apply to things like my campus job at The Rider News as the managing editor. When you’re thinking about applying for internships and if it’s a right fit for you, you have to realize that real-world experience is fundamental to the learning process outside of the classroom. Not only can you build your resume, but you can also gain the assurance that this is where you want to take your career, and ultimately, your life.