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Reporter’s Notebook – Lessons Learned

POSTED August 4, 2010 2:39 a.m.

High school graduation is an exciting time in a young person’s life. One chapter of life has ended, excitement for the future is at an all time high and gifts from lost relatives arrive by the truckload. Yet among the excitement and parties, nervousness came over me. Where to go, the four-year universities I was accepted to or Modesto Junior College, which was affordable, but came with a stigma.

After long arguments with myself, which I am proud to say I always won, I chose MJC. This allowed me to live at home, work three jobs, be heavily involved in school clubs and spend more time with family. However, after my MJC career I knew that I was going to have to make a choice about transferring to a four-year university that would make my previous college dilemma look like deciding between cupcakes and broccoli.

Chico State University offered a three-hour drive to see family and friends whereas Oklahoma State required 26 hours over three days of desert driving. Ultimately, the weather didn’t sway me from the beauty of Oklahoma and the solid Ag Communications program. However, it came with a price, a big one filled with out-of-state tuition, books and fees for everything from library maintenance to health service. I haven’t regretted my decision, well, except when the ice storms and tornadoes hit, which in Stillwater, Oklahoma can be anytime.

After getting a handle of the school layout and class schedule I enjoyed football games, wrestling matches, Oklahoma accents, good food and some of the nicest people. It seemed as if life was going well until I realized getting into a great school and doing well aren’t always enough to get you a job. At OSU the importance of internships is stressed, so much so that I became an internship-seeking crazy person. As if the stress of having to do them isn’t enough, I had to find one 1,720 miles away from my summer home in Escalon.

However, when I stress, I don’t stop until I find a solution, so I made some cold calls, one of which was to editor Marg Jackson with the newspaper in January. She graciously agreed to allow me to intern at the paper, which has provided me practical and memorable experiences within my chosen career.

With a schedule that allows me to enjoy family time, and still produce pieces for the paper, I have learned some very valuable lessons and had some wonderful experiences. First, expect the unexpected; it does happen that you get sent out to do an interview with 10 minutes notice. Second, people rarely take interns seriously and become very nervous when the intern shows up to do a story. However, this lesson I was anticipating. Weekly staff meetings are things I have come to look forward to, and not just for the random conversations or cricket impersonations, but I actually have things to contribute now. Most importantly, you never escape people from your past, ever. It is a small world and gets smaller all of the time, so be wary.

I cannot say enough how valuable it has been to have patient leadership that has helped me to better my writing and reporting abilities, kindly pointing out when I spell my own name wrong and my grammar needs adjusting. Additionally, the positive support of the reporters and staff has made this an internship I will not soon forget.

As summer closes, far faster than I would prefer, I find myself once again making collegiate decisions. Again making my previous choices look like child’s play, I have decided a Master’s is in my future. After traveling across the country and back, more than once, I have learned a great deal. But there is no greater lesson, than to take advantage of every opportunity; you never know when those experiences will pay off.

 

Krista Anderson graduated from Escalon High School in 2006. She served as a summer intern for The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News.

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