What you need to know:
- Walking into a busy news room for the first time can be a daunting experience, especially for an introvert.
- The sound of phones ringing, clacking keyboards and rushing reporters can easily overwhelm even the most outgoing personalities, let alone those who prefer to keep to themselves.
- However, with the right mindset, attitude and strategies in place, it is possible to navigate a bustling newsroom and make the most out of a valuable internship experience.
As I reflect on my three months as an editorial trainee at Nation Media Group, I can confidently say that the first three days were nothing short of enthralling. As a budding journalist, I made valuable networks and actually brainstormed ideas with some of the reporters I looked up to when I was younger. It's been a surreal experience to rub shoulders with veterans in the journalism field, and it is something that every intern should get to experience. The energy and environment around have ignited a spark within me, reminding me that my childhood dream of becoming a successful journalist is attainable.
My journey has been both exhilarating and exhausting. It is worth mentioning that in busy newsrooms, which often occupy large floor spaces, it can be easy for an intern – particularly an introvert – to get lost while trying to learn how a media house functions.
On my first day, it took me a while to fully adjust and become familiar with my new surroundings. Remember that time you had to navigate your first day at a new workplace? Or your first day at a new school? You know, that stomach turning nervousness, sprinkled with overwhelming excitement, that makes you want to throw up the breakfast you tried to gulp down in preparation for the big day? Simply put, I was terrified.
Thankfully, the excitement of that first day culminated in a rush of pleasant emotions and thoughts.
“Will I be good enough? Will I finish my tasks on time? Will they judge me if I ask a stupid question?” were some of the thoughts running through my mind while I was given a harmless tour and a brief explanation of how things work around the newsroom.
Walking into a busy news room for the first time can be a daunting experience, especially for an introvert. The sound of phones ringing, clacking keyboards and rushing reporters can easily overwhelm even the most outgoing personalities, let alone those who prefer to keep to themselves. However, with the right mindset, attitude and strategies in place, it is possible to navigate a bustling newsroom and make the most out of a valuable internship experience. That’s what I did.
If you’re new in a newsroom, here are a few tips I put together to help you ease into the newsroom culture.
Of course, everyone is different, so feel free to adjust them to fit your needs. Just remember to work hard, take initiative, and be nice.
1. Ask questions when you don’t know what to do
There’s always a learning curve with a new internship, whether you’re learning the workflow of an organisation, new technology or a whole new skillset. Don’t feel like you have to know everything. It’s much better to pester your coworkers with questions in the beginning and do the work well – than keep the questions to yourself and do your work poorly, or not at all.
2. Normalise asking, “What else can I do?” when you finish an assignment
Don’t be shamefaced when you’re done with your work, and if your editor doesn’t have anything else for you, find out what else you can do. The more people you can lend a hand to, the more people you’ll make a good impression on. Don’t leave your workplace early. If you’re the only person there and news breaks, you can get a big byline. And don’t scroll TikTok wildly during downtime. It looks bad when your editor walks behind you. In fact, people in the newsroom tend to be quite nosy.
3. Pitch ideas
Even though you’re likely on the lowest notch on the totem pole, you’re allowed to contribute by speaking up in meetings, offering ideas to editors and pitching story ideas. In fact, as long as you’re not breaking the social order of the newsroom, this is the quickest way to impress the veterans, and you learn the most this way too.
4. Set goals and ask for feedback
As an introverted intern, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the fast-paced environment of a busy newsroom. Setting achievable goals can help you stay focused and motivated. When setting goals, make sure they are specific, measurable, and relevant. Also, prioritise your tasks and ensure that you complete them within the allotted time.
Feedback is crucial for your personal and professional development. It helps you understand your strengths and weaknesses, and where you need to improve. As an introverted intern, it may be daunting to ask for feedback, but it is necessary to seek it out. Ask your colleagues or supervisor to provide feedback on your work, and listen to their suggestions. Take any constructive criticism as an opportunity to grow and learn.
Overall, setting goals and asking for feedback will help you improve your skills and become an invaluable member of the newsroom team.
5. Ask people you admire out for coffee, brunch or lunch
I never realised that I could do this until a fellow intern told me he had brunch with his journalism idol. I was like, “You can do that?” As it turns out, you can, and in fact there’s no better time to do that than when you’re under the same roof as they are. On a serious note though, there’s a ton of knowledge residing in the seasoned journalists, and once you leave the building, it will be much more difficult to pick their brains.
Jackson was an intern at NMG between April and August 2023 (jackson [email protected])
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