blah.

When I first started interning at Simon & Schuster, I was a bright-eyed girl roaming around in the city. My previous trips had been with family and friends; I never got a chance to be alone. I explored New York at night, sat in the Washington Square on the weekends – listening to pianists, drummers, and guitarists perform – and found the most interesting food trucks. But when I rode the subway, I looked around at the people on the N or the R in the morning and the afternoon, and I’d only see blank and tired faces.

I promised myself that I wouldn’t be that way, that I wouldn’t look away when someone smiled at me, that I wouldn’t ignore the homeless person babbling on the train, that I wouldn’t walk past musicians as they played the banjo/violin/drums. It’s been two years, and I’m working at a different place. I’ve already broken my promise. I don’t like that I am slowly feeling disillusioned.

Why am I feeling this way? It’s most likely my tendency to worry. I worry about my responsibilities as an intern and as a student and I worry about the future. I can’t help myself. To be happy, I have to stop thinking about everything all at once; I have to focus. Breathe. Be thankful for all I have – for my parents, for my family and friends. I have to remember why I am going into the city: to learn and to experience the publishing industry again. And I must remember to be happy. I’m alive.

On the train to Fairfield tonight, I decided to take out my laptop and continue working on a chapter that I’ve been procrastinating on. Without realizing it, I wrote two pages. I left the train station feeling like I’ve regained an essential thirst for life that I temporarily lost. I promise, now, that it only gets better from here.

A literary semester

It’s my last semester at Fairfield, so I thought I should take all the classes that I’ve been wanting to take. Why not?

Advanced Portfolio Workshop

Led by former Crazyhorse editor, Carol Ann Davis, this class is a capstone course for creative writing majors. By the end of this course we are supposed to have a publishable creative project. I’m choosing to compose a collection of short stories, all dealing with family dynamics. I supposedly volunteered to have my work examined in the first workshop. Don’t ask me how that happened; it’s all a blur. I plan to submit a very dark piece about a man who fights but eventually succumbs to his demons. Vague? Good! I can’t reveal all the good stuff here. Based on my impressions, I anticipate that this class will be beneficial to my development as a writer. Everyone seems interested in their craft, and I look forward to our sessions.

Teaching and Learning Grammar

Ah, grammar. There are so many bad, horrific, terrifying, embarrassing (OK, I’ll stop) memories of my childhood encounters with grammar. I remember getting back essays with red pen marks all over the pages. I vaguely remember being enrolled in an ESL class, because my English was so horrible. I apparently couldn’t speak English because my parents only spoke to me in Vietnamese at home. I don’t recall much of that ESL class (I did learn Spanish?). Anyways, grammar is my weak point. Yet, in my future line of work, I need to know grammar, so I thought I should finally have a whole course dedicated to grammar. So far, it is really interesting. My professor wants to teach students not only the basics to grammar, but also the history of it.

Issues in Professional Writing: Multimedia Writing

I will have a lot of trouble concentrating in this class. Why? Dogs. That’s why – my professor has DOGS. They’re Huskies, and they are so well-behaved and adorable. But, the whole class seems interesting. I’ve always wanted to build my own website, and that’s apparently one of our larger projects. I think that if I want to go into journalism (right after graduation, down the line, etc.) I would need to know basic web design skills. I like that we’re using blogs, Twitter, and computers to learn. We’re actually applying what we learn in class and what we read from our books. I always enjoy courses with hands-on tasks. As with my other classes, I can’t wait to get started.

Introduction to Poetry

Well. It’s poetry, so I am terrified. But hopefully I’ll survive?

Honors Thesis/Independent Writing Project: Novel Writing

I AM WRITING A NOVEL. That’s all I can say, because, apparently, it’s bad to talk about your writing. It’s the same novel I’ve been working on for over a year, and I am hoping to make serious progress with the help of Dr. Michael White, who is the MFA director at Fairfield.

Internship: Folio Literary Management

Folio Literary Management is a literary agency in Manhattan, so I commute Wednesdays and Fridays to work in the office. I’m an editorial intern so I read, read, read, take out the trash, read, refill the water cooler, read, read and, yes, read. I love it so far.

Work: The Mirror

What can I say? Working at The Mirror has become second-nature to me. It’s a part of my life, and I wouldn’t want to change anything. Of course I am nervous about this semester and the next, when the new staff will have to take over. I’m extremely overprotective of my baby; I think I’ve taken good care of it, so I don’t want things to change. I’m also trying to convince people that working at The Mirror is a rewarding experience. It doesn’t have to be a chore, I say.

We have a lot of competitions that are open to submissions. The first deadline is Jan. 24 for the Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence Awards. I hope we win.

Wagner

Don’t ask me why the editor-in-brief, Leigh Tauss, had named it “Wagner.” I guess it’s random – just like the creation of this journal. Leigh has a vision for it – she’s still figuring it out – but I’m glad to be a part of it as the Spelling Witch! Boom. Greatest title ever. If you want to submit, please do.

Oh, summer internships

Image courtesy of Denise Krebs, creativecommons.org

Image courtesy of Denise Krebs, creativecommons.org

Just two months ago, I was stressed because I hadn’t heard back from any internships. I applied to internships with an optimistic outlook. I had my resume ready and cover letters that were individualized and particular to each potential employer. My belief that I would get an internship was made stronger by my experience last summer.

Weeks passed by and I received no word. I resigned to thinking that I would spend my summer working on my novel. It was a nice idea and all, but I now know that if I’d done that, I wouldn’t make any money. And I’ll be honest: I am such a procrastinator when it comes to writing. I like to think that I write from inspiration, but sometimes inspiration doesn’t come so easily and I resort to checking Facebook, Twitter and the news too much.

Then I got a call from an amazing internship but withdrew because of time constraints. Now here I am. I’m interning at Record-Journal, which is a family-owned company that publishes multiple newspapers. I am expected to write periodically for The North Haven Citizen. I also work with writing the blotter and college news for the administrative desk. When I’m not working, I am also a remote intern for “Contagious Optimism” in the press/publicity department. “Contagious Optimism” is a book series of uplifting and self-help stories.

I’m so thankful for both opportunities, because I feel as if I am doing something of use during the summer. And each day, I’m inspired to write. I haven’t been doing a lot of blogging, so I figured I’d write about my summer.

Here are a few things I’ve learned so far:

Your last choice may be your best choice.

Well, I wouldn’t say these two internships were my last choices, because I didn’t even know they were choices until they were offered to me at the end of the semester. Initially I was so stuck on my dream to intern again in New York that I felt like I would be taking a step backwards if I didn’t not do so again.

Good thing I didn’t. I also like my internships because I can work near or from home. Record-Journal is located 15 minutes away from my house, and I only need a computer to work on “Contagious Optimism.”

Right now, I feel overwhelmed, but I know that I just need to get into the groove of things.

Don’t get carried away with thinking you’re better than anything. 

I often catch myself thinking too highly of myself. I get cocky sometimes. Confidence is a great thing to have, but too much is poisoning.

Applying what you’ve learned.

My two favorite classes out of my Fairfield career have to be Fiction I and Journalism, Editing and Design. The skills I’ve learned in those classes most definitely apply to everything that I do in the ‘real world.’ At my R-J internship, I want to make sure my editors like my writing, which is why I use my AP style and storytelling skills. When I look essays for CO, I think about the grammar and editing tips that Dr. Baden had taught me.

Have fun.

Being in the R-J environment has definitely helped my productivity. I love hearing people typing on their keyboards and answering their phones. Debbie likes to have the radio on and she plays the latest hits. Love it.

In all, I’m honestly enjoying myself.

And hey – I guess I’ll start looking for fall internships. I believe I am qualified for anything related to publishing or journalism. Get at me.

Tips for the Hopeful Intern

My fellow interns and I at Bill’s Bar and Grill for a fun dinner.

Over the summer I was able to work as an editorial intern for Simon and Schuster. I interned in the Touchstone imprint, which publishes commercial fiction and nonfiction. I’ve gained an innumerable amount about the publishing industry and I will surely use all of this acquired knowledge in my junior year.

I took some notes about the job and internship application process and would like to share with whomever is out there. Some of this advice comes from the Intern Queen Party that I attended in the city. Other notes were given to me by the human resources department at Simon and Schuster.

A few bullets are specific to the publishing industry, but I don’t see why you can’t consider using it in other field searches.

Naturally, being a journalist, I’ve also included interesting quotes!

HOW TO IMPRESS EMPLOYERS

  • Have attitude and initiative; skills can be taught, but attitude is something you have to have!
  • Love the job and contribute ideas
  • Think of the bigger perspective.
  • Constantly consume media, even if you don’t do anything involving media. You’re still learning something.

RÉSUMÉ

“For the love of God, read through your résumé for mistakes.”

  • HR starts looking at résumés from bottom to top, so your story starts from the bottom.
  • Unless you are at an Ivy League school, put your education on the bottom, not the top.
  • No paragraphs. Use bullet points that talk about the key accomplishments, not just description of your job.
  • If you want to put an Objective, it has to be really, really good. Otherwise, leave it out
  • Cover letter is not dead! Be sure you show your personality through cover letters. Anecdotes are great. Explain why you love the particular field you’re applying for
  • Do not include references (it’s obvious that you will need them)
  • Put in your hobbies and interests. Many times when you send your résumé in digitally, HR puts it into a system and searches for key terms. For example, if they are looking for a Spanish-speaker, they would search “Spanish” under skills and hobbies.

INTERVIEWS

Show up 5 minutes early. Any earlier makes you seem too eager. Of course, never show up late. NEVER.”

  • Phone Interviews: Make sure to smile. Look in the mirror and smile; people can hear the difference in your voice when you smile.
  • KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO DO. Don’t ever say, “Any position is good for me. Thanks.” That’s not serious enough.
  • Questions for interviewer: Ask about the work culture, the typical routine, and maybe even ask about the background of the interviewer. How did she or he end up in this field? What is she or he working on?
  • Thank you notes. Try to email by the next day. If you’re doing it by mail, then try to do so within a week. You’ll be able to gauge whether your interviewer prefers paper over digital.

STAYING IN TOUCH WITH EMPLOYERS

“Don’t be a weirdo and stalk them.”

  • Have contact with your employers at least once per semester.
  • Mention a recent relevant accomplishment you’ve made. Thank your employers.

MISCELLANEOUS

“Girls, keep your tops on in your Facebook profile picture. Or at least put it on its privacy setting. Please.”

  • Keep track of your digital footprint.
  • Try including your LinkedIn account in your email signature.
  • Particularly for publishing: They are always looking for more diversity. Diversity in every sense. The less conformed you are, the better job candidate you are. Quirky, off beat people will offer fresh perspectives and innovative solutions.
  • Start your search early. There’s nothing wrong with that. For publishing, start search in March and apply April for new jobs.