Last Friday I wrapped up a 7 month stint as an intern reporter at the official daily newspaper of Hudson County: The Jersey Journal. As I reflect on my experiences driving around Jersey City blasting the Arctic Monkeys and reporting the news, I am struck by how much I enjoyed myself. I met politicians, artists, academics, philanthropists, police and fire men, athletes, celebrities, business men, homeless men, priests and rabbis, criminals, and many others from all walks of life.
I wrote about murder, corruption, social injustice, technology, medicine, racism, poverty, money, arts and culture, education, death, and rebirth all within the smallest county in New Jersey. In 7 months I have seen a man sentenced to 15 years in prison, politicians arrested for corruption, fathers shot dead on street corners, a 50 year old family business burn to the ground, a man restart his life at 81, crippling blizzards that weren’t, a cripple with a beautiful life story, and many other things that I never thought I would see at age 23.
I wrote about charities and in turn helped them raise money. I wrote about homelessness and in turned helped a few homeless people. I wrote about unsanitary living conditions and in turn got somebody to fix the problem. I wrote about the lives of the deceased and in turn helped families grieve.
I even worked a second job delivering pizzas at night to support myself, and it didn’t bother me at all.
When I graduated college 11 months ago I never thought I would do what I have done. I had little faith in my prospects as a journalist, both due to the job market and my own abilities. But last Friday I left work with a warm farewell from all my colleagues, many of whom spoke of my great potential. I have never felt more confident in my abilities and more sure of my decision to be a writer.
The things I have done and the world I have seen over the past 7 months has been ugly and beautiful, hopeless and hopeful, and scary and encouraging. To be out in the world seeing things and writing about them is all I could ask for, and to be doing it at such a young age really is a dream come true. I don’t drink as much as I once did and I have to keep a straight face more often, but thats a fair trade.
This week I start a new job and a new adventure at a new company in Manhattan. I won’t be driving around Jersey City blasting the Arctic Monkeys. I won’t be running up a tab at the CoffeeShop Bar while I crunch to get my copy in by 5 p.m. I won’t be approaching dozens of perfect strangers to ask them what they think about the weather, the mayor, the price of gas, or the stabbing on the PATH train last night. But I will always remember those times and how they brought me forward and onto my next opportunity. I am a better writer, a better journalist, and happier than I thought I could be while making $8 dollars an hour. For that, I have nothing but the most sincere thanks to the Jersey Journal.
Note: I am still the Sunday reporter at the Jersey Journal. Here are some of my latest stories: