By Joe McQueen
During Fall 2020, I interned with the Amityville Record newspaper here on Long Island. I’m grateful for having the opportunity to do this internship during the pandemic, which made many other internships scarce. After finding out I did not get another internship I was hoping to do during the fall semester, I reached out to the paper’s editor, Carolyn James, whom I had met through a connection of mine earlier in the year, and told her I recently was turned down for an internship opportunity and asked whether she would be able to bring me on.
Although doing an internship during the pandemic has been quite a challenge, I successfully managed it while taking classes. Carolyn and I never met in person, so often I just spoke with her on the phone and kept her updated on stories I was working on, many of which I pitched to her. Carolyn was very helpful and often gave me good advice on reporting and interviewing, which has certainly helped me a lot and makes me a better journalist.
It was kind of tough throughout the semester with finding things to cover since the pandemic has cancelled nearly every major event and has kept important meetings like town and school boards remote. Luckily, I worked on stories about things like local businesses reopening during the pandemic after being shut down for months and losing significant amounts of money, a local arts festival in Babylon back in October, and a town board meeting, which I got a good story idea out of.
What I wish I had known back in the beginning of the semester is that many events that I would be covering during normal times were gone, and the number of stories I would have been able to do would have been much larger before the pandemic. If the pandemic wasn’t around, I would have met Carolyn in person and worked at the Record’s offices, which would have been a much more memorable experience.
Having this opportunity, though, was still valuable to me as it provided me experience that will help me in the future. As I’m about to end my final semester at Stony Brook and go off into the real world, doing an internship before graduation has really helped me prepare for what’s to come when I get my first opportunity in the news industry. I’ve begun the process of applying for jobs, and coming out of college with a good, solid resume will be beneficial for finding that first job. The pandemic has definitely created lots of uncertainty for new college graduates. Wondering whether the pandemic gets worse and things shut down again only creates more anxiety among my peers.
For any journalism students out there right now, push as hard as you can in getting as much experience as possible before graduation. Internships are not only valuable, they’re a necessity to getting opportunities in the field. If you haven’t done any internships yet, be sure to start working for campus media as soon as possible.
I would highly recommend doing an internship with Carolyn at the Amityville Record. It is a great experience, especially since it’s a very small newspaper covering very small communities on Long Island. She is very helpful. It’s also vital to pitch your own story ideas. Editors love that, even with interns.
My final semester at Stony Brook was a very odd one because the pandemic changed things drastically, but being able to intern before graduating was a very valuable experience.