Why Do An Internship?
By: MacKenzie Elmer (University of Iowa)
I am having “smashing good fun” working as a reporting intern at InMadrid, an English monthly newspaper. Although all of the writing I do is in English and my editors and the other volunteers are generally from the UK, Australia or the US, I have had opportunities to interview Spaniards for stories. My first opportunity came naught three days after my job interview with the editor. I got an email asking if I could attend an event called “Escépticos en el pub” which is a Spanish-throwback of London’s Skeptics in the Pub, a guest-speaker series where patrons talk about sciences and disproving, or sometimes proving, paranormal theories. I spent the month transcribing Spanish interviews I captured on an old-fashioned tape recorder and writing a 1000 word story for the February issue. To me, being asked to turn in a 1000 word story even before my first day in the office was completely unexpected, extremely exciting, and completely unheard of in the journalism world!
Not only did I have the chance to publish an article, but I was also asked to collaborate on the “Scene” page, where I became familiar with press releases and wrote about various special club nights around Madrid. Because I am also interested in photojournalism, I was extra pushy about including my own photos in the paper as volunteers usually look on Flickr for photos, and I had the opportunity to have about 3 printed. By the end of the month, I partook in the final editing, which meant reading every word in the new 24-page edition searching for grammar mistakes and also fact-checking.
At the University of Iowa where I study journalism, the competition is cut-throat and many students would actually cut-throats to have an opportunity like I have had at InMadrid. To work at the daily newspaper at Iowa, students struggle with balancing their studies amongst the back-breaking schedule of pitching three stories weekly and writing at least 2. Working at a monthly paper allows me enough time to thoroughly research a topic and double-check facts that would normally be missed by the poor night editors at a daily. I am learning a lot about Madrid as a city, meeting wonderful people from around the world, and heading to fabulous events like Madrid Fashion Week where I spent an evening gawking at odd outfits and sipping from the free cocktail bar, a perk I am sure I will only experience once in my life.
Aside from the outrageous amount of luck I have had working for InMadrid, I have come to a lot of conclusions about my future career in journalism. I am learning about cultural journalism because the magazine covers things like arts, events, social activity. At Iowa, the focus is mainly investigative journalism. The benefit of working outside just one area of focus is that eventually, you will decide which “niche” fits your writing style best. InMadrid is helping me develop my writing style but also directing me more towards pursuing investigative journalism upon my return. I strongly encourage all students who study abroad to seek out an internship that suits their interests for it can only help you to expand those interests and discover more about yourself.