Junior Taylor Long Reflects on Her Summer Internship
By: Taylor Long, '13
I still sometimes miss my summer internship at In These Times magazine. And it’s the unconventional things that I remember most vividly — the creaky wooden floors, the old Kurt Vonnegut columns that peppered the editorial board’s offices and the large futon couch that I made my office every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. These were the quirky touches that made me feel at home and made my experience as a web intern so memorable.
In These Times is a progressive news and opinion magazine based in Chicago, Ill. and distributed nationally. It was modeled in the image of Appeal to Reason, one of the nation’s first independent news magazines, and is famous for a commitment to progressivism. The contributions of Naomi Klein, Kurt Vonnegut, Noam Chomsky and Glenn Greenwald periodically make their way into the folds of the magazine month to month. Of course, I didn’t know most of these name-dropping sorts of details until I started interning at the magazine. I was originally attracted to the publication’s online content — specifically its labor blog “Working In These Times.”
Labor had always been an interest. Only recently had it manifested itself in the form of my involvement with the Labor Initiative in Promoting Solidarity. As we worked in coordination with an SEIU labor organizer in waging a living wage campaign in support of Sodexo employees, I stumbled across coverage in In These Times. With the encouragement of Jeff Cohen, director of the Park Center for Independent Media, and the assistance of the center’s internship program, I made my way out to Chicago to work directly on the blog that I had admired from afar while in Ithaca.
I got started the first day. Jeremy Gantz, web editor and associate editor of the magazine, showed me how to find and edit photos to appear on the blog. I began to copy edit articles and fact check them before they went live online. It wasn’t long before Jeremy was also giving me ideas for stories and encouraging me to write for the blog, or even the magazine. By the end of my 10-week internship, I had collected seven online bylines, published a short article in the August issue of the magazine, and learned how to take photos, edit audio and produce an audio slideshow using SoundSlides. I slowly began to cultivate my voice as a blogger, breaking away from the hard news reportage training I had largely received in my journalism classes and at The Ithacan. I delved into the complicated world of computer editing. I took the train to the economically disadvantaged South Side of Chicago for press conferences and to expose wage theft. At one press conference, I even made friends with a young photographer for the Chicago Tribune and stood shoulder to shoulder with an Associated Press reporter.
Looking back, I can recall many moments when I felt intimidated or nervous. The whole exercise in moving to a city I knew little about and beginning the process of standing on my own two feet was an exercise in vulnerability in itself. I learned so much — about the field I will enter after graduation and also about myself. I owe a large part of this to the trust Jeremy and other members of the In These Times editorial board placed in me beginning my first day as a timid intern. I feel very thankful to have stumbled across one of those unique internships where fetching coffee doesn’t even surface on the radar and where professional relationships and collective learning were the centerpieces of my experience.