From the Trenches: Reflections on Interning So Far

by Caitlin O’Donnell, News Editor
Intern with The Post and Courier – Charleston, S.C. 

This summer, the Pendulum News Blog will bring you reports “From the Trenches: Reflections on Interning” for Elon University Students to share their experiences interning in various professional industries. Spending the summer working in an unfamiliar environment can be frightening, challenging, overwhelming but, very often, incredibly rewarding. We want to share YOUR stories of overcoming fear and achieving success. 

To call the first day at an internship intimidating is an understatement. You’ve prepared as best you can, but there is no way to accurately predict what’s going to happen when you enter your new workplace.

This summer, I’m interning at The Post & Courier in my hometown of Charleston, S.C. For the month of June, I’m writing for a weekly entertainment insert, Charleston Scene, before moving to the metro desk in July.

The Post and Courier, located in Charleston, is the South's oldest daily newspaper.

While enamored with most aspects of the jobs and constantly hungry for more hands-on experience, the realities of the profession are never far. Cuts are being made everywhere and the Post & Courier is no exception. It’s harsh, it’s tough to swallow, but the situation simply can’t be ignored.

But that doesn’t mean newspapers are dying. Rather, I view it as a period of transition for an industry that has been in existence since the very creation of this country. Like most in the profession, I’m stubborn. I don’t like taking “no” for an answer and, for a while, I attempted to reconcile the historical, longstanding function of print media with the ever-changing age of the Internet. But, as I’ve come to realize, we cannot keep doing things the way we have always done them – it’s a simple as that.

I would love to keep publishing 3,000-word stories tracing the life of a fascinating character or getting to the heart of a controversial issue. But the harsh truth of the matter is that the majority of Americans doesn’t have or refuse to make time for this type of in-depth reporting. They want fast, they want simple to digest, they want it immediately. And as much as I envy the days when a newspaper was a staple in every American living room, that age is gone and the online, international community has replaced the local, familial one.

To tell veteran reporters, or even obstinate newcomers like me longing for the days of Woodward and Bernstein, that they must change the way things have always been done, is challenging. But it’s an obstacle worth fighting through because it can ensure the survival of this (imperative) profession. If newspapers can endure the advent of radio and television, I simply refuse to believe that they can’t work through Twitter and YouTube.

Caitlin O’Donnell is a junior at Elon University majoring in print/online journalism and history. She currently serves as one of two news editors for The Pendulum and writes for University Relations. 

Do you have any interesting internship stories you’d like to share? The Pendulum News Blog is looking to share YOUR experiences, from within any professional industry, with the Elon community. Send an email to Caitlin O’Donnell (caitlinod319@gmail.com) & Kassondra Cloos (kcloos@elon.edu) to find out how to become involved. 

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