Gaining confidence and a new perspective

  • May 1, 2017

By Brittany Bernstein

If you had told me a few years ago that I would be interning at a business newspaper, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. First, because I swore I was going to be a doctor, but also, because what do I know about business?

At the end of my Long Island Business News internship this semester, I discovered the answer: a lot more than I realized.

Business is more than just Wall Street and millionaires. It’s small local businesses, it’s law, it’s accounting, architecture, healthcare—there is business behind everything.

And behind every business, there are people, and that is where my interest lies.

My first story assignment at LIBN was a profile of the CEO of a local sports drink company. I was surprised that anyone would let an intern interview a CEO (especially on her first day), and I was also sort of terrified. I wondered what to ask him, what to wear, how early to get there, overthinking every detail.

I didn’t get into journalism because I have an interest in a particular topic—not sports, arts, business, etc. I love to read, write and know what’s going on, and I love to know what makes people tick. I didn’t know at the time that a small business profile is mostly just a story about a person with some numbers thrown in.

I got all turned around when I went to interview the sports drink CEO in his Huntington office, and when I got there, he wasn’t even there yet, which meant awkward waiting and more overthinking.

When he arrived, I met a young, passionate guy whose office looked like every teenage boy’s dream—covered in superheroes and sports logos and all sorts of loud and proud prints and colors.

I survived my interview and I left the office on a high, feeling euphoric that I had overcome my anxieties.

Now, looking back, compared to the other stories I would end up writing, this was a simple one. Since then I have had conference calls with lawyers (law jargon, anyone?), I’ve spoken to the regional president of TD Bank and a whole host of other important people. I’ve written stories about the architecture job market, tax return fraud, courtroom technology and healthcare on the East End, all culminating in my last, biggest, most complicated story—a cover story about telecommuting, which, apparently, is not as black-and-white as one might think.

Through all of this, I realized that my job as a journalist is not necessarily to know It is to want to know. To learn.

I also realized I should probably have more confidence. I was surprised time and time again by how seriously people took me and by the positive reinforcement I got about my stories from sources and LIBN reporters. Here I thought I was this measly intern kid, but I ended up feeling like a valuable part of the newsroom. My favorite story that I wrote ended up being one that I pitched myself, not one I assigned, and weekly editorial meetings became even more interesting when I finally began to find the confidence to voice my own opinions.

To anyone considering interning at LIBN in the future, I have two words: Do it!

The experience truly changed the course of my career—as I am considering a career in business journalism now. The mentorship, kindness and respect that I received from the LIBN staff was unparalleled. I wish I could finish school and become a full-time reporter there!

But, alas, I am only a sophomore, and this summer, I am headed to my next internship adventure—this time, a weekly in New Mexico.

I can’t imagine that I would have had the courage (or the resume) for this next internship had I not interned at LIBN, where I accumulated 17 clips and a whole lot of confidence.