I worked as a member of the copy desk. I had the same responsibilities as any of the full-time copy editors. I read stories for spelling, grammar, AP style and length. I was also responsible for laying out pages in the daily newspaper and posting stories to the website. I also took on managing the paper's Twitter account (@dispatch_argus). I looked for people in the community to follow, helped buildup some community hashtags and promote content. I also developed a connection with community members by responding to questions and comments we received on Twitter.
My most memorable experience at The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus was probably my last night. It was really a bittersweet night for me. It was hard to believe that 12 weeks had already passed. My night started off with some goodbyes and thank yous from the dayside staff and then I just went on with my work like a regular night. As I began to wrap up my work and deadline neared, it really hit me that this was the last time I would be working in that building and with the great people I worked with. I started to reflect on all that I had done and was really thankful for the experience that I had. After deadline my co-workers presented me with a small gift and we all reminisced about the summer and vowed to stay in touch and I walked down those newsroom stairs for the final time. I left feeling accomplished and proud to have called that building my workplace and that isn't something everyone can say. I'm really thankful for the opportunities I was given and still miss working with those people.
I think the biggest contribution I made to The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus was building up a following on Twitter. One night I was using Twitter during a severe weather situation. I had someone who only had her phone tweet at us asking for more specific information about her location because she didn't know where else to look. Knowing that I had helped build up a Twitter account that people trusted us to help them was a really great feeling. I knew that my work was helping the community as a whole, and specifically making a difference in this one woman's life. News organizations have lost a lot of trust in recent years, and finding ways to restore some of that trust and see it in action was really great. The paper has continued to use Twitter after I left, so it's great that they saw the importance of it through the work that I did.
My best advice to future interns is come prepared on the first day to maximize your internship. I got to work with the paper's Twitter account because I asked to do it. I expressed an interest, I developed a plan and I presented it to my boss. My biggest regret is that I didn't ask to do it earlier. My boss was impressed that I had a plan and ideas to improve the paper and I wish I would have spoken up earlier. I can be a shy person, so it took me a little bit of time to open up and feel comfortable around my co-workers. I got so much more out of the experience when I formed connections — and even friendships — with my colleagues. If I had formed these connections earlier and spoken up about my interest in social media, I probably would have had an even better internship.