6 reasons why your busiest time in the newsroom is actually the best time to hire an intern
Editor's note: Today, Muck Rack contributor Rebecca Isenhart stops by to share how beneficial having an intern in the newsroom can be. But don't worry! The relationship isn't one-sided. On Thursday, we'll hear directly from Rebecca's current intern about her experience and how interning has helped her, as well.
When I imagine what would’ve happened if my mentors had passed on spending time with me, I picture a completely different self. A less interesting, less happy version of myself with a way less awesome career. Like, I don’t know, maybe a dog walker?
(Cut me some slack. It’s tough to picture.)
The people I interned for as a student turned me into a designer, a photographer, a confident interviewer and a concise writer. They helped me pick the right college, and then they helped me get accepted. They still answer my panicky, late-night emails when I have a big decision to make.
My mentors have one more thing in common: they were all too busy to take a chance on me, but they did it anyway.
Here’s why you should follow their lead this year and hire yourself an intern.
1. Teaching refines your own skills. When I edit one of my intern’s stories and make notes to share with her, all the best advice I’ve gotten on writing come back crystal-clear. The next morning, when I sit at my computer and start typing my own work, it’s fresher than ever. Without actively going back to the fundamentals, some of those important lessons would inevitably become fuzzy or even forgotten. It’s a great way to make sure my work is high-quality even when I’m pressed for time.
2. Stale work patterns will suddenly be obvious. Why do you check your email first thing in the morning when it inevitably frustrates you? If you always forget to charge your camera battery, how come you haven’t bought a backup? Also, when was the last time you rinsed that coffee mug? When I’m busiest, I’m too distracted to notice what’s holding me back from becoming more efficient or just generally having a nicer day. Nothing directs my attention like my intern actually asking why I do things the way I do them.
3. New story ideas and contacts are a text message away. Need a quote from a high school or college student? You’ll have to wait til after class, and lacrosse practice, and SAT prep, and homework, and… ok, that email is probably never getting answered. Your intern, though, is having lunch with exactly the person you need to talk to right now. Shoot her a quick text and boom, check it off the list.
4. Small tasks will disappear from your to-do list. Sure, it takes a little time to train someone to take a job or two off your hands, but it’s worth it for both of you. Some of the small tasks that clutter your day could become learning experiences for an intern. Who knows—maybe you’ll free up enough time to eat lunch somewhere other than your desk for once.
5. You will learn what people really think about your work (for better or worse). In my industry, I’m always going to be under pressure to do one more thing than I have time for. That’s no excuse for failing to seek out feedback. If people aren’t actually picking up and reading my stories, nothing else I do is going to matter. Thankfully, my intern lives right in the community I write about, and she hears all the unfiltered opinions I usually don’t have access to. That makes it incredibly easy to find out what’s working and what needs to be scrapped.
6. Doing something kind for someone else will make you happy, too. When I’m under pressure from my deadlines, my inbox, my voicemail and my editor, it tends to bring my mood down a notch. That’s not fun, and it’s not helpful for my productivity or the quality of my writing. When I’m overwhelmed, a text from my intern that says how proud she felt when she saw her byline in print is enough to turn my day around.
Now it’s up to you: do yourself a favor and be smart enough to say yes next time an eager, intelligent student wants to try her hand at your job. “I’m busy” simply isn’t an excuse to say no.
Journalists: chime in. Do you hire interns? How have they helped you in your own career?
Rebecca Isenhart is a community journalist in Upstate New York who loves to find, write about, and photograph the quirky and heartwarming details of everyday life. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @rebeccaisenhart or read some of her smile-inducing small-town stories at YourNiskayuna.com.
Photo: Two businesswomen via Shutterstock