Listen to yourself when choosing an internship

  • January 3, 2022

By Melanie Formosa

For my unpaid internship with The Express News Group, I was given the tasks of copy editing and proofreading. I always knew that I had an affinity for grammar, spelling and overall writing layout. In general, people forget that there is a lengthy editing process; the journalist writes, which is important, but the editing aspect is also integral. I was able to contribute my services to that vital step through this internship. 

I was assigned stories each week to open in Google Docs and add suggestions to. The majority of my attention was focused on whether the stories abided by AP style and the stylebook of The Express News Group. In addition to that, I was also given the job of making sure the story’s tone was appropriate, confirming that the layout of the paragraphs made sense and looking for spelling errors. 

I was also emailed sections and asked to “proof” them, which means that they are already in their designed newspaper layout, but they need to be proofread before being sent to the printer and website. The large number of errors in the pages were surprising to me; if my colleagues and I weren’t reading them, they would be going out to the public like that! 

This internship also made me realize the amount of human error that exists in journalism. Before majoring in journalism, I thought that whatever reliable news said is true and accurate. But that responsibility relies on humans, and if I slip up and miss a spelling error in the newspaper, that’s how it is published.

From the start, I wish I had known how much reading was involved. Because of the duty that lies on the shoulders of copy editors and proofreaders, one really needs to read every single word to confirm that it is accurately written, factually correct and adheres to AP style and The Express News Group style. It is a tedious job. I did enjoy it, but there were several aspects of the work I didn’t like, such as sitting behind a computer screen and reading for hours.

If you are a journalism student interested in becoming involved in an internship like this, know that it is an independent position, meaning that you are given your duties for the week, and it is up to you to complete them. Brendan O’Reilly, the features editor and my internship supervisor, gave me several days to copy edit articles, and I finished all of them in advance. 

The proofing for newspaper sections had quicker deadline returns, and it all involves reading and a lot of time, so it is vital that you know how to manage your time and that you understand how long some assignments will take you to complete. Overall, I did enjoy this internship, though, and I was given the opportunity to strengthen my ability to edit in a remote newspaper environment.

This internship indirectly helped land me another internship, this time with the Suffolk County Water Authority as a fact-checker. This new, paid internship involves the same sort of aspects I do not like as much, including a lot of sitting and screen time. However, it is a position with many perks, and I do feel I will be able to learn from it. 

For other students who may feel that positions have pros and cons, it is important to listen to yourself. Depending on how I feel from future internships, I may only choose ones that require me to move or be outside, just for my mental health and personal preferences. You come first as a person, and if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, something needs to change.