By: Jasen Obermeyer
Living near the town of Orangeville, Ont., I knew an internship in Toronto would be a difficult commute, and very exhausting. So in early March I sent out resumes and cover letters to local newspapers, including the Orangeville Citizen – a weekly newspaper published every Thursday. The editor, Tom Claridge, immediately took me on as a freelancer.
My starting date was a Monday, and I was very nervous. I went into the Citizen, and Tom showed me around the office and introduced me to people working there. He set me to work immediately on some stories, giving me my own desk and computer to work on. My first taste of action was that Wednesday. As soon as I came in, Tom gave me a story on a resident in town who used his Facebook trucking group to collect items and donations for victims of the Fort McMurray fire. Finally – my first interview. I went to the resident’s place, got my questions answered and set off writing the story. When it was published online and in print the next day, I was thrilled! My first published work as a journalist.
That was just the beginning. Being a freelancer, my schedule was all over the place, but I managed my time, kept organized, and within a few weeks I wasn’t stressed any more. Everyone at the Citizen made me feel comfortable and welcome, and soon enough, I felt right at home. As my internship went along, my writing, interviewing and research skills were enhanced. I started thinking of my own stories, and finding my own sources. I realized what I’ve been taught in school does relate to the working world.
My favourite memory of my internship was actually on my birthday, June 14. The previous day, I heard about the Orlando nightclub shooting in Florida, which gave me an idea. The week before I had covered the local high school’s diversity walk, set up by the student’s Gender-Sexuality Alliance Club (GSA). I got contacted the teacher in charge, set up an interview and talked to the students. It’s my proudest moment because this was the first story I thought of on my own, and followed through with to make something that happened so far away relate to my community.
As my internship continued, I realized I do have the skills to be a journalist. Come August, when it ended, I was hired as the publication’s regular freelancer. I learned so much from my internship – key points being the ability to look up sources, determine what news is more valuable for the citizens, and how to contact people.
This internship was a wonderful experience. Going forward there’s no doubt the small-town newspaper gave me skills I’ll take into any media industry.