A dad’s survival guide to your summer internships

He taught me that everyone needs to start somewhere

My dad, Harvey, majored in journalism at NYU. He also had some pretty cool internships during his time in college and he was more than happy to share them with me, a current summer intern.

Former intern vs. current intern

During the fall semester of his junior year, Harvey was an intern at the New York Daily Newspaper. He was placed in the lifestyle department, which dealt with everything from the latest health craze to the newest kitchen gadgets. One time he even modeled! It was an article in the home section that came out on Thursdays. There was a blurb about this anti-smoke mask and they needed someone to wear the mask, which was like a plastic helmet that covered your entire head with a plastic shield in front, and they picked an intern.

“You couldn’t tell it was me unless you knew it was me,” he said, chuckling at the memory, “But it was fun.”

After working his way up from filing papers to checking articles for grammar and spelling mistakes, Harvey was given the opportunity to write some articles himself. Although they weren’t front-page articles, it was still writing experience and pretty cool to have your name in print. Harvey’s favorite article he wrote was about the increasing popularity of flavored popcorn. Caramel and cheddar were common at the time and popular favorites. But as the trend grew, so did the range of flavors and the amount of stores.

Sadly couldn't find "neon green jalapeño" popcorn

Sadly couldn’t find “neon green jalapeño” popcorn

Popcorn became the newest craze and Harvey seized the opportunity to report. He cited caramel and cheddar flavors as being common and popular, but as the trend grew, so did the amount of flavors and stores carrying the tasty treat.

“For whatever reason, new popcorn stores were popping up,” he nudges me to make sure I got the pun, “Places were offering flavors ranging from jalapeño to ranch dressing to watermelon. Of course the only way to tell whose popcorn was best was to taste them all side by side.”

Harvey goes on to tell me that he brought back samples from half a dozen stores and encouraged colleagues to stop by his desk and all the different flavors. After tasting sweet, spicy, tangy, and even fruity flavors, Harvey rated caramel and cheddar cheese flavors as the top two.

“Not surprisingly, neon green jalapeño flavor came in dead last. Yeah, it was unanimous,” he informed me. His article was a hit and he still has a copy of it.

Everyone who has worked as an intern knows what it’s like to feel unimportant. My dad reminded me not to take it personally when your idea is shot down. For example, he once wrote an article about the benefits of parents gardening with their children. Every time he wrote the word “vegetables” his editor changed it to “veggies.” Although annoyed, Harvey knew that one day the time would come when he could write the full proper word but realized that that day was not it.

“This also taught me the importance of knowing you audience.” He explained to me that the Daily News was a tabloid and therefore prone to using more lax language. Through his internship at the Daily News, Harvey learned that everyone has to start somewhere. Although not initially interested in the lifestyle section, he learned to love the range of topics it allowed him. He recalls this internship as one of the most memorable and influential.

Interning is the start of your future career and learning how to operate in a workplace. Whether you are interning in the industry you love or you’re working just to make some money, you can learn something at every turn. Enjoy your internships while you have them. When you are put in charge of a college intern one day, remember what you liked and didn’t like and help shape their experience and change their life.