By Jim Raykie
Throughout the country, many students will be completing internships this summer in their chosen fields of study.
Most will be juniors heading into their senior year, but with the various internship programs offered by different companies, some may have already graduated, while others may be only sophomores.
As I thought about writing this column, I recalled my experience as a reporting intern at The Herald 40 years ago, knowing that it was one of the most important parts of both my college and professional life.
At the time, The Herald offered the Dr. Robert Lartz Memorial Scholarship, which provided a stipend and a paid, 10-week working internship.
The internship/scholarship was offered through Penn State University’s School of Journalism, and I was honored to be picked to get my first dose of professional experience at my hometown newspaper.
The weeks leading up to the internship that began in early June were some of the most nerve-wracking that I can remember. I realized that the internship was going to be a major test of whether I was cut out to be a journalist.
It’s one thing to do well in the classroom, and another to excel as a writer for a college newspaper. But walking into a newsroom filled with seasoned veterans and having to perform for and be scrutinized by a reading public and discerning colleagues was unnerving.
The greatest reward of the internship was neither the experience that I could use as a resume booster nor the pay, but rather, the confidence it gave me that I could do the job.
When I returned to Penn State as a senior in September 1973, everything in class seemed much easier to understand, experiencing it through the lens of a student who had worked at a professional level for three months and being able to blend theory and practice.
Two weeks ago, former editor of The Herald Jim Dunlap, dropped by for a visit. I like when Jim stops by, always resulting in an interesting discussion about where the printed press has been and where it seems to be heading.
I succeeded Jim when he retired from The Herald in 1987, and he’s been a regular visitor to the newsroom for the last 25 years. He’s amazed at how much the industry has changed since he sat in my seat, and we like to reminisce about “the good old days” at 52 S. Dock St. – typewriters, carbon paper, glue pots and all.
When I drove into the back lot at The Herald 40 years ago, sitting in my car almost afraid to get out, it was Jim who pulled in beside me. We walked in the back door, up the steps to the newsroom.
The first person I met was Lynn Saternow, who was a sports writer working under Johnny Pepe and Ray Swanson. Lynn introduced me to most everyone, not only in the newsroom, but everywhere in the building and out, like the Arena family of the former Wave Restaurant across the street.
Throughout four decades at The Herald, most of the employees I met on that sunny June day no longer work at the newspaper. Many have passed away, while the others have retired.
Lynn is still writing for The Herald as our sports editor, and only two others are left – Ken Morgan, who works in graphics, and Rusty Winger, who had worked for years in the composing room and today is a part of the circulation department. Rusty is set to retire soon, leaving Lynn, Ken and I as the “elder statesmen.”
To think that 40–year ride all started with that internship so many years ago – and that I almost drove out of the parking lot before it started.
What an invaluable experience – and thanks to Jim, for guiding a nervous rookie up the back steps and not letting him drive away.
Jim Raykie is the executive editor of The Herald and writes this column on Mondays.