By Demi Guo
It’s funny — when WSHU’s Long Island news bureau first offered internships to Stony Brook students, I was at a point in my life where I was one signature away from leaving journalism. I wanted it, but faced with deciding on whether or not I would stay at school, I decided not to apply.
When I finally found enough footing to apply and get it a year later, I was still uncertain — this time, not about journalism so much as the kind of journalism I would do. The thing about a major like this is that you stay in it for the lasting love of it — meaning a passion for all sides, be it documentary, radio, social media or writing. You do this despite the 22 credits you are taking at the same time, the commute from Queens to the middle of Suffolk, the sleepless nights spent researching and editing.
It’s appropriate that at the end of college, I would be given the keys not just to an NPR affiliate but also to the best place I have worked at. I am more than lucky to have the bureau chief I did and the opportunities I did to tell people’s stories. After years of digging for sources despite their scrutiny of a student journalist, going into WSHU, with such efficient and hospitable staff and journalist-friendly credentials behind it, was the most natural thing in the world.
Writing for radio taught me to be succinct. I digested mountains of information and turned them into 45-second conversations with people I would never meet. All in all, I sharpened my skills — and it was not an easy task for someone who had been writing narrative, New Yorker-esque articles for the Stony Brook Press and for her own enjoyment.
WSHU is a balanced environment. It’s hard to find a calm environment that manages to be so efficient, and even harder to find a down-to-earth staff that manages to be so friendly — and vice versa. It’s the much sought-after goal of working your dream job at a good, solid company.
Besides, aside from working on assignments, I got to work on my own stories. I just wish I’d taken advantage of it more, especially after all the rigid newsrooms I had gone through.
I also wish I’d known at the beginning how fast the time would fly. The internship was beyond rewarding, in the way certain professors and courses have made me feel that I was on the right path. The reward was not just having friends ask me, “Was that you on the radio today?” or even knowing that I’d told the public something informative. The reward was the feeling of satisfaction I had when working on a particularly grinding story, because I knew that I was improving and finally doing what I’d been wanting to do since I chose to stay a journalist. That kind of feeling of winning while still struggling is hard to come by. It is its own reward.
As for the opportunity to get that internship at WSHU? Do it. Aim for it. Fight for it. You’ll have fun while learning, and isn’t that what we all want? Not only that, but I met guest speakers who taught me more in a few hours of a visit than some semester-long courses in Stony Brook ever had. WSHU is geared towards self-improvement as well as getting the work done.
I’m reluctant to hand my keys back. However, when I do, I will do it knowing that I used them at a job that I was eager to drive to for hours to every morning. I will do it knowing that this chapter of my life has helped me jump forward in my career.