Thursday, July 22, 2010

Internship vs. Internship

Sandy and Ben, two other MBA interns at the AP Our intern summit wrapped up officially last night with dinner at Peking Duck House in Chinatown. Don't let the name of the restaurant fool you -- it's Chinese food.

The internship program at the Associated Press has three divisions: business, technology and editorial. During the summit, we business associates were the oldest folks in the room -- at least the 7 of 10 of us pursuing graduate degrees. Some of my fellow "closer to 30 than 20" comrades are pictured above. Note the lack of wide-eyed youthful awe.

This marks the second time I have claimed the prestigious title of Summer Intern, the first being nine years ago, when I was a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund copy editing intern at the Columbus Dispatch in Ohio. Due to a combination of my own naivete, what one could argue were shortcomings of the program itself, and the fact that after 10 weeks I found virtually nothing nice to say about Columbus, this was not an experience I cherish. But it was still valuable, if for no other reason because it showed me that, to get the kind of newsroom experience I wanted, I needed to go to a smaller paper. That's what led me to my first full-time job at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, where I ended up staying, happily, for nearly five years.

Smaller companies can be a great fit for some. The Caller-Times had a family atmosphere, and it was easy to exert influence, take risks and learn. Bigger companies, like the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (my next paper), can have their advantages, too. They have more resources and tend to be more surefooted. There were things I was able to do at the Star-Telegram I wouldn't have been able to do at the Caller-Times, and vice versa. I wouldn't say one is a better workplace than the other; it just depends on what kind of person you are and what you're interested in doing.

The AP is, of course, a very large global company, but the department in which I work is small. So I have freedom and autonomy as well as resources and support. It's a nice mix. I think I made a good choice.

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