Reflections on an enlightening opportunity

by Alex Ashe

Time flies when you’re fearing deadlines.’ 

As my seven-month stint as YES! Weekly’s editorial intern comes to a close with this issue, I’ve had some time to meditate on the experience. It’s been fun and satisfying at times, stressful and frustrating at others, but it’s been constantly enlightening throughout.

It’s been an eventful seven months, for sure. I’ve written some pieces I’ve liked and twice as many that I haven’t liked. But with each one, I’ve gained knowledge, experience and perspective that I can apply in the future.

And hey, as inherently delusional as it may be, I can always claim that the Rhinoceros Times folded while I was here, and right after I left, it popped back up.

I’m eternally grateful to our editor, Brian Clarey, for giving me this incredible opportunity after deciding to hire two interns, even though my colleague, Jeff Laughlin, had me trumped in the experience, creativity and personality categories. I still don’t know what Clarey was thinking, but damned if I was ever going to grill him about it. My only hope is that he doesn’t regret his choice.

I must also thank the rest of the editorial team, Jordan Green and Eric Ginsburg, who, like Clarey, took me under their wings at times. I learned so much from all three during my time here, yet I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface in soaking up the wealth of knowledge and guidance that each can provide.

Understanding why I refer to an unpaid journalism internship as an incredible opportunity may require some context. When I started in February, I didn’t have a single clip to my name, outside of my high school newspaper. Seven months later, I now have somewhere around 100 clips. The spectrum of what I’ve gotten to write about is pretty astonishing in retrospect.

Ever since I was assigned my first articles, two pieces for our body-art cover story, I’ve been challenged to “become an expert” on topics I know little about, from tattoos to raising livestock to Winston-Salem politics. Diving into these subjects was daunting, but I relished the challenge and did my best.

Perhaps most of my topical learning was done in Winston-Salem, which I’d honestly neglected for the bulk of the time that I’ve lived in Greensboro. I’ve had an absolute blast discovering the Camel City, from its Arts District to its restaurants. As a GPS-deficient traveler, I’ve gotten lost with every single new trip I’ve made, and though I experienced extreme frustration at the time, I now look back on each wrong turn fondly, for some reason. I’d even like to think I’m learning my way around, slowly but surely.

Anxiety has been a theme of this experience, too. As great as it is to write for a publication with as much editorial freedom as YES!, it’s made me constantly self-edit and stress over minor details, and as a result, I’ve struggled to adhere to deadlines. I’m still working on shedding my habit of procrastinating, and I apologize to all those I’ve held up in the process, particularly the ladies of our art department, Alex Eldridge, Mallory Southern and Katie Thompson. I really appreciate their patience with me, as well as their stressful work in putting this publication together each week.

Though my income is lacking, I’ve received a bevy of other extrinsic rewards during this internship. For one, YES! gave me a vacation in the form of a Bonnaroo ticket, an extremely valuable perk. I’ve also scored tickets to see some amazing live events, from futsal to pro wrestling.

Some of my assignments have been laced with perks. I’ll never forget when Clarey had me review the incredible Undercurrent by way of a significant gift certificate. Or when he signed his Winston-Salem Open media credentials over to me for my cover story on the tennis tournament. In both cases, the experiences alone trumped any anxiety I felt while writing about them.

Lastly, I want to thank our readers, especially the ones who braved through my pieces as I worked out some kinks. I’ve got a long way to go, of course, but I feel like I’ve made some significant strides in my time here, and feedback of any kind has only galvanized me.

Professionally, I’m not sure what lies ahead for me, but it’ll likely be a byproduct of this internship, which has been the most enlightening and rewarding experience of my life. Thanks to all who have made it so.