Welcome to the Real World

By Ashlee Lacasse

At the end of this term, I will be walking away from my internship with a little bit more than journalistic experience.

I’ll be walking out with memories of a lot of good people, heart-breaking moments, one-on-one chats about life, awkward car rides with photographers I had literally just met, a big pile of newspaper articles and videos with my name on them and beginning a search for a new career.

Let’s go back to the start.

It was the end of December when I sent my resumé to every news organization I could think of. I had my heart set on an internship in TV, hoping I would be able to really make sure a career in TV was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. When I spoke to my internship coordinator about not hearing back from those I had applied to, she asked me what I wanted to get out of an internship. “I want them to work me hard,” I told her. She told me she knew somewhere that would do exactly that. This place ended up being my third home for four months.

I showed up on my first day and was tossed around as the editors tried to find a desk for me to sit in. Once they figured it out, I sat down and opened my laptop. The photo editor came and helped me connect to the Internet, introduced himself and left me to it. About 15 minutes later, the assignment editor came up to me and told me I’d be taking the car somewhere to meet a photographer. I had to do a stand up interview and then come back to write the article.

My heart has never beat so fast. Oh my God. I had never driven in Toronto. I’ll admit that I don’t have much faith in my driving abilities and especially in my directional “skills.”

I tried repeating in my head what he had just said. I couldn’t believe it. On my first day, I was asked to go out and do an assignment. Just like that. Meet up with somebody I don’t even know and come up with something that would be published in the next day’s newspaper.

Luckily, this wasn’t happening until 1 p.m. so, in a panic, I took my lunch at noon to call my boyfriend and best friend. I found a cement block far enough away from the office to sit down, make those phone calls that did not even come close to helping me calm my nerves, eat my sandwich, and… Well, cry. I saw the streetcar that would take me home and was extremely tempted to climb aboard and give up.

But I didn’t. I went back inside at 12:45 p.m. and, to my surprise, somebody else had taken the car so I could not do that assignment.

Since that day, I’ve been confident about every assignment they’ve given me. I’ve written two features, dozens of news stories, been to places across Toronto, shot video and photographs and collaborated on articles with other reporters.

But I’ve realized that journalism might not be the career I wanted when I enrolled at the University of Guelph-Humber. I want to do something that will fulfill my need to help and make a difference. And having to call a victim’s relative to get a quote for a news story is the complete opposite of that.

So, my internship has done a little bit more than prepare me for the “real world.” It has taught me what this “real world” truly means to me.

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