By Robert Craig
Perhaps it was during my morning commute to Norristown, as I rode the train along the Schuylkill River while paging through a copy of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho given to me by a coworker.
Maybe it was after my exciting interview with Jeanine Leclaire, a local painter whose work is displayed at Roger Lapelle Galleries in center city Philadelphia.
Possibly it was the first time I saw the words “By Bob Craig” printed under a bold headline in Suburban Life Magazine.All of these experiences are the result of an internship I landed at Suburban Life Magazine in January 2013 while working on an associate’s degree in general studies at Delaware County Community College.
Professionally, academically and personally, I knew I was working toward something great.
Internships are helpful for those who want to begin building their resume before graduation. Acquiring an internship can be a paramount moment in a college student’s life and can lead to professional opportunities and hands-on learning that one cannot otherwise receive in a traditional classroom.
My internship experience at DCCC changed my life. It led to a job that I would normally need a bachelor’s degree to even qualify for.My internship solidified my career goals and aided me in realizing I was on the right path.
At DCCC, students will find that acquiring an internship is not a difficult process. Jennifer Orazi, associate director of Student Employment and Co-op services, is there to assist students who are eager to begin their professional resume.
I first met with Orazi during Fall 2012 per a recommendation from my journalism professor, Bonnie McMeans. Orazi set me up with an interview with Suburban Life’s editor, Bill Donahue, over winter break.
I was hired by Donahue as the magazine’s editorial intern. My duties included light editing, writing small articles (sidebars) and heading a quarter- page column in the magazine called Datebook, which outlined things to do in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Throughout my internship, I had weekly check-ins with McMeans and Orazi to keep them updated on my progress. My editor also kept in touch with them to evaluate my performance.
About a month into the internship I was given an opportunity to write a business profile, a task that usually fell to the editor, managing editor, associate editor or a contributing writer.
The assignment was a profile of Sunset Hill Jewelers and Fine Arts Gallery in West Chester, Pa. I had to write interview questions, interview multiple sources, write a full 1,000 word draft, edit the draft and rewrite it before I submitted it to my editor.
This process was arduous, yet I found it to be thrilling. I was actually working in the publishing industry, something I thought I’d have to wait to do until after I received my bachelor’s degree.
This task was not all fun and games, however. Working in the publishing industry can be stressful and demanding.
I remember being extremely nervous to conduct my first telephone interview with Sandra Riper, owner of Sunset Hill. I had to go into a separate room by myself so that none of my editors could hear me doing the interview.
The pressure was on, I realized, but I knew I had to remain professional, calm and collected. After about an hour, the interview was complete and I was ready to begin writing.
My editor was pleased with the results and asked if I wanted to take on more responsibility as an intern. I ecstatically accepted his offer and began working on multiple business profiles and feature stories per issue, in addition to heading Datebook and the Arts and Culture section of Suburban Life.
By April 2013 I was working with all of the magazine’s editors, the publisher, John Hirth, and the marketing team on a daily basis. I was gaining professional experience that was truly preparing me for my career as a journalist.
Despite the fact that I was not getting paid, I was receiving three credits (which account for one class at DCCC) and gaining real-world experience that was much more valuable to me than a paycheck, although I was still waiting tables part time.
This particular internship was to be completed by the end of the semester since I was planning to graduate in May. To receive my grade, I was required to complete 224 hours as well as submit a detailed log which outlined my day-to- day tasks, a list of learning objectives and a reflection paper about my experiences in the internship.
At the end of my internship at Suburban Life, I was offered a paid position as interim associate editor for the summer of 2013. Since then, I have been invited to do freelance work for the magazine, as needed.
Although my internship experience was unique in that I was hired for a job before I received my degree, the professional ties I’ve made through this company were solely because of my hard work as an intern. Any students with a desire to advance in their career can strive for similar professional goals.
Without this internship, there is much about my career that I could not have learned. This internship placed me directly in the throes of the publishing world, working one on one with accomplished writers and editors.
My particular field is journalism. For other students it may be information technology, paralegal, accounting or behavioral sciences. Any student can realize the same accomplishments that I have. Getting an internship can be the first step to achieving professional andacademic success.