This Thursday we will celebrate National Intern Day, and at The Times there is plenty of reason for celebration this year.
We already had intern applications before the coronavirus pandemic was in full swing by mid-March. We wondered what effect the virus would have on our ability to continue with the interns we had interviewed.
We had a budget to pay one intern, and had committed to her early on. We were upfront with the many others who applied. We could provide them experience, and if they were able to get college credit, we would commit to doing any paperwork necessary to make that happen. So, four additional interns eagerly signed on.
We were surprised and delighted.
The challenges of COVID-19 have made this experience different. They’re not able to see the camaraderie, collegiality, and daily banter in the newsroom. That’s been replaced by daily Zoom meetings where we try to recreate some of it, but it’s not the same.
Training on our systems is also easier in person, but again the Zoom feature that allows you to share a screen has provided us with a platform to do some training. And we’re fortunate that these five young women have the aptitude for that kind of learning.
Kyra Steck was the first intern we committed to, the one we had budgeted for as a news intern. She is a student at Northwestern University. Her family moved to the Vineyard this summer from Wellesley. Kyra arrived at the perfect time. Our photo editor, Lexi Pline, was leaving for a new adventure (Lexi was an intern last summer who grew into that position), and we needed someone to fill the void of photography and some of the technical parts of that job.
Kyra has done a fantastic job learning those technical skills, and juggling both the technical with the creative parts of the job. She’s done it with grace. She’s also intensely curious, and has covered news events and written features. Even more, she comes into the office on Thursday afternoons to mail out our off-Island subscriptions.
Clare Lonergan comes to us from Brown University. We tell all of our interns that we expect them to hit the ground running, and Clare did just that. Early in her internship, there was a rally for racial justice at Five Corners. It was a mostly peaceful event, but there was an incident that involved arrests. Clare had the presence of mind to find out what she could at the scene, and then to relay that information to her editor. She’s also had no problem delving into complicated town government meetings, and turning them around quickly and accurately.
Also, if you’re a daily Minute reader, Clare is one of two interns who have shared the role of producing the newsletter each day and sending it off to your inboxes.
Isabel Gitten is the other newsletter producer, but the Northwestern University student is so much more than that. Isabel has a wide range of talents that she’s added to our staff this summer — writing, photography, and producing some videos to enhance our multimedia approaches to storytelling — all while maintaining a part-time job at Winnetu.
We always appreciate the willingness of our interns to try all aspects of our news organization, and Isabel has provided some much-needed support to our subscription department this summer, solving subscriber issues and preparing the weekly list for our printer.
In that same vein, Erin Hill, another homegrown talent who played basketball at MVRHS, has helped out in our advertising and marketing department, while also jumping in writing stories and taking photographs. Erin joined us the latest, after finishing an early summer semester, and will have to leave us soon to go back to Yale. She’s been focusing much of her time on a project that we’ll be releasing in the middle of August. Stay tuned.
We introduce and show our appreciation to Shelby Regan last. It sort of became an inside joke during our morning Zoom news meetings that Shelby will be called upon last, but that says nothing about her abilities. Shelby has been a rock-solid addition in mostly providing support to our features editor, Connie Berry, and making contributions to our Community and Calendar sections, as well as writing for Edible Vineyard.
Shelby is a student at Lesley University, and is yet another Islander coming home to work at her community newspaper. We’ve also snuck her some news assignments, and she always comes through with quality writing.
It’s become cliché to call this year challenging and unprecedented, but we feel better for having navigated these uncharted waters with the assistance of Kyra, Clare, Isabel, Erin, and Shelby. We also are encouraged that these young women are part of our future.
Perhaps the greatest compliment we could give them is that — given the budget — we would be happy to have any one of them join us full-time.