A heartfelt ‘thank you’

by Karen Phillips

Many people have asked me why I decided to take on an internship as a 29-year-old (unpaid, by the way) when I already have a fulltime job that I don’t plan on leaving. Why add more than 20 hours a week to my workload for no reason? Well… I don’t really have a logical answer except for the fact that I had some time during the day where I could do something else, and I wanted to see what it was like.

Brian Clarey called me a “worker bee.”

I think my friends and family would agree with that statement. If I’m not taking nine credit hours while doing homework and working at the gym 25-30 hours a week and traveling for competitions, or studentteaching 40 hours a week while taking two classes and still working at the gym, then I’ve moved on to working full-time with a part-time job on the side. I don’t feel like I’m accomplishing enough when I have down time. I’m sure that will change as my family life changes, but for now, that’s what makes me happy.

I majored in English at the University of Michigan with a minor in philosophy, and got a post-bacc certificate in secondary education for English from UNCG. I have already tried teaching high school but have decided to move away from that career path for now, so I wanted to try and find something that might use my major. I had applied to work part-time or as an intern at YES! Weekly over the summer of 2011, but there weren’t any available positions.

Out of the blue, I got an e-mail in June, 2012 about a 6-month unpaid internship. I was shocked to receive a follow-up a year after my inquiry, but impressed that a company would hold onto résumés for such a long time. I was intrigued at the opportunity, so I called Clarey to set up an interview. Since I had no journalistic experience, he told me to go out and review a restaurant. We met at about 4 p.m. and he asked me to send him my review by 7 a.m. the next morning. It was a tight deadline, but I was up for the challenge.

I started my internship on July 2 and my first issue was July 11. It’s a pretty exhilarating feeling to see your writing in print.

Having a byline makes you feel famous. Although I’m not one for attention or recognition, I felt a sense of personal pride to see a progression of my work.

Throughout this experience, I’ve gotten to visit dozens of new restaurants and eat an overwhelming amount of pizza, meet new and upcoming artists and evaluate their work, drink and write about beer and wine, interview a dog, administer pop quizzes to city council and school board members, and, most importantly, cover the 2012 election.

YES! Weekly has helped me come out of my shell. I tend to fall more toward the introverted side, so meeting new people and talking about their lives and personal experiences has been both scary and rewarding. My favorite part has been writing the Local Talent segment every week because I get to see what makes different individuals special and how they contribute to their community. I get to help bring attention to people who deserve recognition for what they do and what they have accomplished, and who may have not gotten noticed otherwise.

Writing staff columns has also been rewarding. Not only did I get to share my views and opinions about political and social issues, but I got to share a little bit of myself with the readers.

Going back to my hint of introversion, I’m not very showy. I don’t communicate or express my emotions very well, but in writing I feel more comfortable. Getting the opportunity to speak freely about my father, my mother, my experiences as an outsider living in North Carolina, as a teacher and as a coach have been both humbling and rewarding; so thank you.

Thank you to Clarey for making me read, for making me think and for making me rewrite. Thanks for helping me through my writer’s blocks, my lack of experience, my senseless need to capitalize and italicize random words, my overuse of commas. And thank you for putting up with my busy schedule.

Thank you to Jordan Green for being patient with me throughout this experience. Thank you for helping me understand more about local government and politics and thank you for being so loyal and dedicated to your job and to the art of journalism that you’re willing to work more than any other salaried employee I’ve ever met.

Thank you to Eric Ginsburg for being a friend and my go-to person these past few months. Thanks for being a sounding board and for boosting my confidence at just the right moments. And thanks for always inviting me to lunch.

Thank you to the rest of the YES!

Weekly staff for being supportive, kind and friendly to the “new girl,” and thanks for all you do to keep the paper looking as great as it does. I learned so much from all of you and my experience wouldn’t have been the same without you.

And finally, thank you to all the readers.

There would be no point in writing if you weren’t interested in what I had to say. And even to you, Peter Brackett: Thanks for telling me that “nobody is that interested in [my] personal life or struggles.” I will keep that in mind if I pursue a future in writing, and I will always have you to thank, whether I listen to your advice or not.

And as I leave with a well-rounded portfolio and six months of immeasurable experience, I don’t know what my writing or journalistic future holds, but I know that YES! Weekly gets credit for helping shape my future, whatever direction I choose to take it.