The summer before my senior year in high school, I started my first “real” job, an internship at the local newspaper. I remember getting dressed up on the outside, but being full of butterflies on the inside.
The office, at that time, was in a stuffy old building that was frequently visited by tiny, four legged, whiskered friends scampering across piles of old newspapers. The first day, and for a few weeks afterwords, I “shared” a computer with the only other writer on the staff. (Try sharing a computer. It’s rather counterproductive). I eventually earned my own desk and even my own computer.
Like any intern, I started out with the basic, mundane duties. I typed up obituaries, news briefs, honor rolls. Pretty much everything that no one else wanted to do except for making the coffee. Trust me, you wouldn’t want me, a non-coffee drinker to attempt to make coffee when caffeine was so essential to the smooth functioning of an office that ran nearly 24/7. But, I slowly earned more responsibilities, generating my own stories, and, years later filling in for some editorial duties (though never, ever making the coffee).
When I started my internship, the layout hadn’t yet made the move to the computer. The stories, ads and images were cut out and pasted onto newspaper-sized sheets of paper. At the end of the day on Friday, the big light tables that lined the office would be full of that pages that eventually became the newspaper that reached out to thousands of different people.
The people that I interacted with, both inside the office and while out covering the news, made the job worthwhile. Of course, I loved the writing and photography too, but working as a team added a different element. Even on a stressful work day, taking a few minutes to chat with my co-workers, sometimes about something completely unrelated, gave me the energy to keep working.
But, probably most of all, I liked to feel like I was contributing to something larger, something more than my teenage babysitting jobs. However small the project I was working on was, it was a piece of something larger that made an impact in my small hometown. I worked at that same place for about seven years, before moving on to other opportunities after graduating from college.
What about you? Share your experiences from your first job in the comments below.