An Intern's Rewarding Summer
"What are you doing Wednesday night?" my boss asks.
It's an odd question, one that makes me a little wary of what I might be getting myself into. But then he says: "We're all going to see 'Caddyshack' at the Sunrise."
And this is why I love my internship.
This summer, I've gained experience in my future career. This is life experience that "career prep" and journalism courses cannot prepare you for. Sure, the building blocks in school have helped give me structure and expectations - but nothing synthetic can give raw life experience.
I figured - mainly from watching a lot of TV shows - that as an intern I'd be on glorified coffee runs. Instead, we interns at The Pilot are expected to contribute at staff meetings, pitch stories and basically take care of ourselves.
Yep, I've loved it. This summer has given me the chance to learn about the industry and myself. There's no course on how to listen to the Lions Club shutting down, Eva Gentile's war memories, or Bonnie's basket prowess. Instead, I just bumbled my way through it as gracefully as I could.
I've helped - more watched and socialized - with page design. I've quickly learned that the credit of a good paper isn't just for good reporters. There is a distinct difference between the spacing of letters that should be appreciated.
I couldn't fail to mention how Hannah Sharpe coached me through a nerve-racking videography course. Everyone should take a moment to appreciate the online video section of thepilot.com.
My favorite story was probably the CrossFit piece. Where else do you get to pass your workout off as paid work? It was a good chance to explore my narrative voice as a writer, along with a chance to really laugh at myself in one of the hardest, most gratifying workouts ever. And it's on film!
I'm going to miss the obscure references the other reporters make to shows that aired before I was born. I feel extremely included now that I've seen "Caddyshack" with the group. I won't be quoting lines from it from memory anytime soon, but I will now know when there is a reference to it.
This internship has made Wednesday my favorite day of the week. It is staff meeting day. Nothing captures the family dynamic the way it does as we crowd around a table vying for Deb Salomon's baked delights and wait for the chronically late reporters to file in.
David Sinclair, Sarah Brown and I have been running in local 5k's as a mini Pilot team as I try to make myself like running. We've competed in the Patriot 5k and Peachy Feet 5k and are finishing the series with Farmers Day 5k. I'm going to miss this support and the office banter about him "keeping up" with us.
My other jobs have included concessionist at Sandhills Stadium 10 and camp counselor at Betsy Jeff Penn 4-H center, each with their own merits. And it is hard to compete with free movies and daily pool time - but somehow The Pilot manages.
It has been a learning experience in which I had to get over my inexplicable fear of calling people. The first week or two, I made all of my phone interview calls from my car on my way to lunch.
I developed a deep appreciation for Moore County. I've lived here for eight years and never knew the community until this summer. "Caddyshack" was my first time in the Sunrise. Somehow I managed to live here for eight years without ever really being here. This immersion into the community has been thrilling.
Before this internship, my dining habits included my house and McDonald's. Now I've discovered Southern Pines eateries to my wallet's demise. The other interns are vegetarians, and I've become increasingly aware of my eating habits and make an effort to pretend I'm healthy.
More than learning to write, I've learned how to connect. On Aug. 10, I clean off my borrowed desk - thanks for that, Ted - and head back to UNC-Chapel Hill for band camp. I'm not leaving behind a job; I'm leaving behind a family.
I will miss you all.
Kirsten Ballard, a Pinecrest High School graduate and rising junior at UNC-Chapel Hill, is a newsroom intern at The Pilot.
More like this story