The summer interns at The Lincoln County News do not fetch the editor’s dry cleaning or organize his file cabinet.
Every year, we hire an intern who works as an equal member of the news staff.
The intern attends staff meetings, receives assignments, covers events, and collects a paycheck like any other reporter.
This year’s summer intern was Nettie Hoagland, of Walpole.
A graduate of South Bristol School and Lincoln Academy, she will soon begin her senior year at St. Michael’s College in Vermont. She is majoring in media studies, journalism, and digital design, with a minor in English.
While I like to think of the internship as a challenging experience for a college student – an introduction to real-life journalism with hard deadlines and a demanding editor – it was probably less intimidating for Nettie after her last semester.
For the six months prior to the internship, Nettie lived with a family of Tibetan refugees in Nepal, studying Tibetan and Himalayan people and politics in an exchange program through the School of International Training.
Her host family spoke Tibetan, while other people she encountered spoke Nepali or Hindi.
“It’s a little different than most study abroad programs in that we don’t go to an American university in a different country,” Nettie said. “Most of the time we’re out in the field, doing field work, talking to people, learning the language, taking part in activities and traditions that are unique to the culture.”
After this experience, I thought during the interview process, Nettie could probably handle interviewing a few tourists at a strawberry festival.
Our interns tend to focus on community events like festivals and parades, and to help with sports coverage. Depending on their interests and skills, sometimes an intern will do more.
Nettie did more, partly because she arrived with excellent writing skills.
“I’ve always loved to write,” she said.
“I definitely would credit Lincoln Academy and the English teachers there,” she said, who “really instilled strong writing skills and reading skills in me and my classmates.”
Nettie entered college undecided, but quickly gravitated toward what the school refers to as “MJD” – the media studies, journalism, and digital design program.
Her course work includes classes like Reporting for Media and Persuasive Writing, and she likes to make the concise, news-style writing “work together” with a more creative approach.
Nettie also has a natural eye as a photographer. She took a film class last semester, but started her internship with no experience with still photography. She does not own a camera.
I like to think she is leaving the internship with a new skill, and perhaps a lifelong interest.
“I really like the way (the camera) can tell a story on its own,” she said.
The internship gave Nettie a new appreciation for her home – its people and its “quirks” – and for community journalism.
“I spent a lot of time just exploring parts of Lincoln County that I didn’t even know really existed, and I grew up here,” she said.
“Local news isn’t just a small-town, insignificant thing,” she said. “You have readers who are depending on the newspaper every week. You have people and events that deserve coverage. It’s been great to be a part of all that.”
For Nettie, a highlight of the internship was going to The Carpenter’s Boat Shop in Pemaquid – a place new to her, despite being only five minutes from her home.
It was where she stumbled across – as a good reporter will – my favorite story of her internship, about a multiple-generation connection between the boat shop and a New Jersey church, which sends a large group of youth and adults to Bristol every summer to serve the local community.
Like many college students, Nettie does not know what the future might hold after graduation.
“I’m considering the AmeriCorps,” she said, “but I think that I want to move in the direction of working as a journalist, writing for another newspaper or a magazine.”
Any advice for the next intern?
“It is a serious internship. … You have readers who expect stories or photos in the sports section every week,” Nettie said. “I think when you know you have that responsibility to readers, or to people you work with, you have to put in the hours and the time and do it from a place that’s meaningful to you.”
The Lincoln County News hires at least one intern every summer, preferably a junior or senior in a journalism program.
The intern earns minimum wage ($12 next year) plus mileage reimbursement. He or she must have a driver’s license and a reliable vehicle, and be available on weekends.
Start and end dates are flexible, but internships generally begin in mid- to late May and end in late August.