St. Louis, Missouri
Creative Writing Major, Art History Minor
Chelsea Embree '14 spent summer 2013 interning at The St. Louis Beacon,
an online-only, not-for-profit news source based in St. Louis, Missouri.
Chelsea was able to take on all the duties of a regular reporter; she conducted interviews and wrote about two stories a week.
Describe your day-to-day experiences.
I really had a lot of freedom on a day-to-day basis. Each Monday, I would e-mail my editors a list of stories I was working on and how much I'd progressed, and throughout the week, I would just continue to pursue these stories. Because everything was online, there weren't hard deadlines like there are in print. My deadlines were much more flexible. What I'd usually do during the day is send e-mails or make phone calls to schedule interviews, go to those interviews, transcribe them, and put everything together on the website that The Beacon used to publish content.
Can you cite an example of how your in-classroom and/or out-of-the-classroom experiences at Knox benefited you in the internship?
Writing and editing for The Knox Student was really what got me the internship at The Beacon. I started writing for TKS at the beginning of sophomore year, having never written any journalistic story before. I love writing, and I've been writing my whole life, so it's not that that was new or scary to me. What was really challenging was approaching complete strangers, people I'd never seen before, and asking to talk to them. That can still be a little nerve-wracking at times. But TKS was very much a baptism by fire for journalistic writing, and I learned more than I ever could have expected to learn in my first year.
I feel like my interviewing skills have improved drastically. I'm no longer that kid with a list of questions to just recite to this person sitting across from me at a table in the Gizmo. I've learned that good interviewing really comes from being curious, and if you're writing about something interesting, of course you'll be curious.
How do you think this internship experience will benefit you in terms of your education, future career plans, personal development, etc.?
In the field of journalism especially, internships are incredibly important. I went to a conference with TKS last year in which one of the speakers noted that internships are the way to get your foot in the door, and I think that's definitely what happened with me. Both of the editors I worked under agreed to write me letters of recommendation once I start looking for jobs. Because of this internship, I can say that I'm more confident about finding a job after graduation, and, more importantly, finding a job that I want. I want to make journalism into a career, and a lot of that conviction comes from seeing what it would be like to be a reporter everyday this past summer.
In the immediate future, this internship served as the perfect introduction to my new role as digital editor for TKS. What that title really means is that I'm the second-in-command, in charge of all things related to publishing content on our website.
Journalism is changing, which is something I really like about it. Some people may say that it's dying, but really, I think that the move to the web is inevitable. The Internet is so easily accessible that it just makes sense for journalism to be where people are. More and more, I think people would rather get their news online rather than in print. So a lot of my job this year will have to do with transforming the website into a daily news source, very similar to The Beacon. Seeing how my editors made it work this summer was really valuable knowledge.
What was the best/coolest part of your internship?
Easily the coolest thing about my internship was having the opportunity to cover the president's speech (at Knox.) There are virtually no other interns who get to say they've done that. But because I had a connection to Knox, my editors had a reason to send me to Galesburg when President Obama came to make the first of his speeches regarding the economy. It was amazing. I went to his inauguration in 2008, which had huge, historical significance, of course, but this time, I actually saw him. The president of this country was standing yards away in our own gymnasium. Being a part of that made me feel like a real journalist. I realized that I could do this.