After a quick career path change at the beginning of my junior year, I have had multiple opportunities to explore different career options through the Center for Career Development. The most recent opportunity brought me to The Carmel Pine Cone in Pacific Grove, California. Over the course of the week, my host, Elaine, demonstrated how to perfect the balance of work and play in her field. As a features editor, her work is inherently interesting. She is constantly switching from subject to subject—a confusing, yet refreshing situation that I encountered during my time with her. The week began with research; I researched topics for a column about home improvement, which coincidentally ended up getting cut on Wednesday—a common occurrence in the ever-changing environment of the newsroom. We set up interviews for the days ahead and researched those subjects as well, developing questions and growing more interested in the people we had yet to meet, but who we already knew much about.
From the beginning, interviewing seemed to be an art form to me. How does one listen intently to someone, take notes, and think of follow-up questions all at the same time? Not to mention the ethics—what and what not to say or ask a subject. I feel as though I learned much simply from listening to Elaine conduct an interview, but nothing compares to experience. I was fortunate enough to have a host that actually wanted me to get out there and get my hands dirty per say. Before an in-person interview, Elaine gave me the opportunity to ask our subject questions if the inspiration arose. I took advantage of that opportunity and therefore, Elaine was able to give me feedback after the interview—allowing me to learn things about this industry that I would have never experienced without this hands-on experience.
Thoughtfully taking into account my interest in education—and the busy schedule of a reporter—Elaine arranged for me to spend one of my mornings with educators at a local college. The college offers many different programs, such as a veterinary track, so we took a field trip to visit their students participating in externships like at the SPCA. However, one of the highlights of my week came later that afternoon at The Carmel Pine Cone—which is surprising since I spent the morning petting dogs. Elaine arranged for me to talk to the publisher of the newspaper, a somewhat intimidating, yet inviting man. As someone desperate for advice on pursuing a career in writing, I received plenty of it; our conversation was enlightening and gave me more confidence that I made the right decision junior year.
My last day of the externship was spent in The Carmel Pine Cone office. The newsroom was both busy with activity and silent as writers approached deadline. The written articles were proofed by at least two people—like myself, affectionately nicknamed the “Shadow”—and then submitted for editing. The publisher also explained the conscious effort put into the front page; not only does he decide what goes on the front page based on photography and content, but he must also create an effective layout that is pleasing to the eye and appeals to the readers. The newsroom on a Thursday is full of action, but not in the ways one might think. While the hard news reporters are running around getting up-to-date information and quotes on their pieces, the features reporters are refining and proofing their own work. Everyone is working as a team and asking each other questions. A debate about word choice ensues as we all work together to produce a near-perfect paper (there’s always room for improvement). Finally, all the pages have been proofed and finalized, so the publisher gives us the O.K. to go home. I left the office that day completely exhausted—mentally and even physically, though I only got out of my chair to go to lunch. However, there was a bit of an adrenaline rush when I thought about being a part of this week’s The Carmel Pine Cone, even if my contributions consisted only of a comma here or a word change there.
Overall, my experience with Elaine at The Carmel Pine Cone was insightful and memorable. There is a lot to take away from this externship and I am grateful for the opportunity to travel across the country and explore my interests in writing and journalism.