I think one of the most challenging things about working remotely is building relationships with the people I am working with. In a normal workplace environment, and particularly in a college internship, in which building relationships is so important— I think a lot of time is spent on connecting with supervisors and getting advice, networking, etc. At the beginning of this internship, I really struggled with how to connect with both my supervisor and my fellow interns, all of whom seemed, just from the early introductions, really smart, talented and generally very cool people that I knew I wanted to get to know. It was definitely a struggle to try and get to know them all through Slack messages and emails and I spent a lot of time worrying about whether or not I was making a good impression or demonstrating my abilities to the fullest extent.
Now we are all a bit more settled into the internship and I feel that I actually have been able to connect with many of my colleagues, even in this “virtual state.” As a writer, or someone that intends to pursue writing moving forward in my career, I’ve always sort of envisioned that career path as a very independent and “solo” one. This internship has really taught me that writing, especially in this “virtual existence,” it’s important to form relationships and work closely with people. I’ve been able to learn about my own research and writing process by working with other interns, my editor who has already taught me so much about writing and journalism and my work has gotten into the Ms. weekly or daily emails (bottom row):
The world of work has differed from academic life in a lot of ways. One, I feel that my writing is valued in a very different way. When I file a piece with my editor, I am not getting graded or even evaluated in the same way as I would when I submit a paper to a teacher. I feel like I am really able to express my own ideas and push myself to write in the most engaging and informative way possible. When writing essays for class, I usually shape my writing and ideas to fit the prompt, class discussion and the teacher’s writing preferences. In this professional format, I have a lot more freedom (though still structured guidance). However, I do think that experiencing the world of work not in person limits my impressions of what a real job in an editorial or journalistic field would look or feel like. Most of my day still “belongs” to me, so I have a lot more flexibility and space than I would if I was in an office. While I’m undoubtedly enjoying the work immensely, I do wonder how the experience would be different or more immersive in person.
One skill I’m building is interviewing with professional journalistic conduct. I was lucky enough to be able to write a long-form feature piece on underrepresented playwrights during COVID-19, and for the piece, I got to conduct two interviews with really incredible people. The piece came out on the 15th and it was one of the most interesting and fun pieces I have written, in large part because of how much I got to engage with the interviewees. I’m also able to work with writers who are more established and experienced than I, and I’m able to learn a lot about professional conduct from them. I think being able to interact with and engage with people you do not know in a professional manner is a really valuable skill. Not only for my future career, which will hopefully involve a lot of interviews, but also in terms of forming relationships with teachers, future employers and anyone I would meet in a professional environment. It’s interesting how making a phone call to someone you do not know, for me at least, can be really intimidating. Learning how to make those calls and send emails in ways that are polite, professional, but also most likely to get a positive response, is really important for a career in journalism.