My San Antonio Summer

August 17, 2009
By Jamie Lee Klein

A 14-hour drive back to Papillion, Neb. gave me a LOT of time to think about my San Antonio summer. Here’s some of what I learned and observed:

1. 80s music can be a way to bond with fellow reporters. Cake too.

2. Heat exhaustion is awful, but makes a cool “intern war story” (That’s right I filed on time). Also, wearing a baseball cap in 104 degree weather can make things worse because it keeps your head hot. Wear loose, light colored clothing, drink LOTS of water or Gatorade and take breaks. And another tip, don’t joke with the EMT ladies when they ask if you feel OK to leave (though they did laugh a lot).

3. What you ate and drank yesterday affects how you handle the environment today.

4. I learned how to eat spaghetti — the classy way (Hold fork at angle. Separate some noodles from the mass glob before you, then hold fork at steeper angle and twist. Eat and repeat). And common courtesies are slowly dying.

5. Put a space before AND after a long dash, and CQ numbers and weird names.

6. I now drive very defensively and I have a new understanding of my car’s size, speed and ability. My car and I definitely bonded this summer.

7. Speaking of my car… it has a spare tire! Thankfully I’ve never needed it.

8. Journey on the radio after a tough day is surely a sign from God. Especially when there are two songs in a row.

9. Not many people in the newsroom have ever seen Michael, a movie starring John Travolta.

10. Lunch is not just a social event; it’s a learning experience. Thanks to everyone for the lessons!

11. One-page resumes: some aren’t bothered by multiple pages, but others find it irritating. If you have years missing between jobs, someone might wonder where you went (jail time? Peace corps?)

12. I was lost for an hour trying to find my first assignment, but in anticipation of getting lost I left two hours early. ALWAYS leave early. Another day I walked 14 blocks before I realized I had walked 12 blocks in the wrong direction, but STILL wasn’t late (though I did have bleeding feet). After a final fiasco where I couldn’t even find myself on a map my uncles introduced me to Garmin. I never got lost again.

13. The building's security officers are all really nice. I was once escorted to my car at 9:45 p.m. The walk was uneventful, but when we got to the lot Greg pointed out a creeper sitting alone on a stoop a mere 15 feet away from my car, which was one of two in the entire lot. After that night every time I saw him he said he was my “guardian angel” and would always watch out for me. “You tell your mom and dad we’ve got you taken care of.”

14. I hardly used it before June 1st, but I've learned Twitter is pretty neat. It's also a great way to get news.

15. One reporter told me he met the EIC by asking to get his copy of the EIC’s book signed. I think afterward he asked about a job? That said, I noticed most “higher ups” don’t mind taking time to talk to an intern. Reporters, designers or news researchers; everyone seemed fine explaining their job, what they thought about the future of the industry or showing me where the basement or microfilm machine was (at least no one said it bothered them…). I learned a lot just by wandering the newsroom.

16. I really, really like reporting. I'm not easily excited (ask my mother, it drives her nuts) but I found that working on new stories or finally finishing old ones made me feel like a kid on Christmas day. I miss working.

17. Asking for work actually gets you work. I felt that my job as an intern was to learn and help the reporters on my team. So I asked what they didn’t have time to do and tried to help. A lot of cool stories came from that; even found some of my own.

18. I noticed a variety of ages (and maturity levels) in the newsroom. But when referring to my age, I must have heard this at least 50 times: “Oh it’s OK, you’re young so you can eat anything. Just wait ‘til you’re MY age.” I also noticed a lot of people are really into exercising. I’m afraid I spent most of my Saturdays wandering small Texas cities or watching SyFy movie marathons with my uncles. But it's OK, right?

19. Jokes about interns not getting paid are only funny if told by an unpaid intern.

20. The intern field trip to Fiesta Texas was one of my favorite summer days; complete with fireworks and funnel cake! Thanks for that E-N.

21. One 80-hour workweek = throat and lung infection. Recoup time is not a myth -- it’s actually a necessity... and I should listen to my mother.

22. I learned to be more cautious about what I casually mention to other reporters — they might want to write a blog about what you say.

23. You know you’ve been accepted by the reporters around you when they start making fun of you.

24. Climbing the ladders on the roof of the building made me realize I have a slight fear of heights. And by fear I mean I was stuck for about five minutes. Thankfully two other interns were there to keep me calm.

25. Show up early and stay late. Sources notice and appreciate it. And I figured as an intern I do have the time to do that and try to cook up some goodwill for the paper.

P.S. Surge protectors do not protect your electronics from a lightning surge. Who knew? Tell your parents.

My favorite newsroom quotes:

“Jamie, don’t be so naive. No one is going to put an intern on the Sunday front page. That just doesn’t happen.”

“Why can’t people die when we need them to?”

“Do I really want to let you borrow this saw?”

“So far my shmultz detector hasn’t gone off.” (editor to reporter while editing a story)

“Good editors talk to themselves while they’re editing so they don’t forget something.” (after caught mumbling to himself)

"Yeah, but I still look good."

“I’m like your drug dealer. I’m a pusher.” (Thanks for the stories Vince!)