Aspiring news reporters and editors – this is for you. Meet the first African American lady to helm the masthead of ‘The New York Times’ – Monica Drake. She’s the woman who broke the internet with a job ad requiring 52 weeks of travel – getting as many as 9000 applications. And she has words for all of you who want to become newspaper interns – have a good summer!
Drake, who recently took the masthead at one of the most influential newspapers in the world, started on the road as a newsroom intern, editing copies in 1997. In a journey over 20 years (included in a recent Times Insider interview), she spoke about herself, her intern years and the road the newspaper has taken over time.
We bring you her intern years and the important lessons which you can take from them. So, sit up, because this is how, you can convert your journalism or newspaper internship into a job.
They kept telling us: ‘We do not hire interns’
Recalling her own intern experience at The New York Times in 1997, Monica inferred that she was able to do a great enough job because there was no pressure. She had been inducted as a copy-editing intern for the Metro section.
“They kept telling us, “We do not hire interns,” especially copy-editing interns. They kept saying: You have to have a lot of experience. This is going to be great for you, but plan to leave and let’s just have a good summer; that should be your goal. I was relaxed the whole summer because I didn’t have to worry ‘Are you going to make it? Are they going to keep you around?’ “
So, how did that change things for her?
“It was a different newsroom then — copy editors were all much older than me, closer to my parents’ generation than mine. My youth made me useful.”
And that’s the strategy that works and gets you the job you are aiming for. “At the end of the summer, when they asked me to keep coming in, I was confused. They said: You show a lot of promise. We think you did a really good job. We want you to keep coming in.”