By Julianne Mosher
Sometimes being an overachiever can have its benefits…
Starting school last year was tough. It was my first semester at a four-year institution after leaving my safe community college of six semesters. I moved from a small college that seemed easy compared to this university that had huge expectations of its students.
Working two part-time jobs to be able to afford my education, along with taking 18 credits, made my head hurt… then I decided to take on an internship.
The internship was a three-credit program – raising my university credit to 21 – and was work from home. Being a journalism student, I had to write 18 to 20 articles a week – roughly 10 hours altogether – learn online coding and do research for three months straight. The website I wrote for was called TheCelebrityCafe.com and I freaked out. How was I going to survive all of this work?
I was tired, cranky and felt as though I had no social life. I got tired of writing celebrity gossip on top of serious news stories for my classes and my eyes pained from staring at a computer screen all the time. Between the school assignments and the internship, I was fed up with everything in my life and became discouraged that all I did was work.
But luckily the research and columns I had to write weren’t anything too difficult. They were actually quite fun to write. Growing up, I was always fascinated with famous people and admittedly loved reading the tabloids.
My supervisor told me in the beginning that if I kept up the good work sending out all of these different stories, I could have the opportunity to interview celebrities, walk red carpets and spend weekends in the Hamptons to socialize with the rich and famous at only 21 years old.
Keeping in the back of my head that this huge, amazing prize could be at the end of the tunnel, I drank triple the amount of coffee, stayed up late watching what was trending on Google and Twitter and spent every waking free second on my phone reading the latest celebrity gossip.
In April, I was officially done with required hours writing as an intern. I was almost finished with finals and went back to working full-time hours at my lame retail job.
However, shortly after my final day on the job, I got an email from my boss saying that her boss wanted to hire me as a freelance writer. The pay was not going to be amazing and I would not be able to afford the latest Louboutin’s like Carrie Bradshaw would in “Sex and the City,” but I could get a little bit of money to write my columns again and as they said earlier, get my name known.
Since it was the summer, it was much easier to manage my time writing my quick, tiny stories. It was fun not having the pressure of school hanging over my celebrity stories and made it even more enjoyable to do.
My stories ended up on Twitter and Google News, I began to forget about the possibility of interviewing big names with the website. I was just happy I could still write for the site and even get paid a little bit on top of that.
It was one day in the beginning of August when I got an overwhelming email that changed my perception of an internship forever. The owner of the website wanted me to go to an event – a real, red carpet event at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan.
Along with one guest, I was invited as press to go backstage of “America’s Got Talent” and talk with the contestants, take pictures and interview the main, famous judges.
Being one of my biggest supporters for my dream, I decided to bring my dad along. He and I dressed up and took the two-hour train out to the city. Both of our iPhones were charged and he gave me an optimistic pep talk while we navigated through the tall buildings until we arrived at the famous venue.
We walked downstairs, with blisters already on my feet from walking around Manhattan in heels, and we were both shocked at how professional this gig really was. “Jul,” he said. “This is the big time.”
Two red carpets were set up against “AGT” backdrops – one side for the paparazzi and their bright flashing cameras and the other for the publications and TV networks.
I stood scared and intimidated next to the big time reporters from E! News, Entertainment Tonight, Life & Style Magazine and Howard 100 News. I was a rookie in this huge pool of seasoned writers. I got red in the face with anxiousness and embarrassment.
The contestants started to come out and I approached them with a shaky hand as I recorded my conversations for my story later. I had no idea what my story was even going to be about but I had to find it in the two hours I was there.
I eventually did.
Getting to meet the contestants and being introduced as the website’s name was invigorating. At that moment in time, I was a real reporter working on a real beat with a real press pass. It didn’t matter that I was only a junior at Stony Brook University, it didn’t matter that I was only 21 years old and it really didn’t matter that I wasn’t even done with my degree yet. It was surreal, but I had to get over it as Lindsey Stirling, Howie Mandel, Nick Cannon and Heidi Klum walked out. I had to stop being a fan girl and get my game face on.
My dad stood behind me, recording my conversations just in case my phone failed me – he was a good date helping me out – as I had a full conversation with violinist and former “AGT” contestant Lindsey Stirling.
On the spot, I asked her how it felt to come back as a guest performer after being turned down several seasons earlier and she gave me amazing and very inspirational quotes. That was my story and I was thrilled.
I was no longer scared. I was confident in what I was doing and any self-doubt I ever had in my life about school, my internship or grades went away. I talked to one of Billboard’s top performers, and I did well.
I got home and sent in my story along with the photos I took. I was exhausted but couldn’t sleep that night knowing that because of this one internship, I already made a huge move forward in my future career.
It took over four months of working for TheCelebrityCafe to finally get recognized and asked to do something exciting. Being patient was hard and frustrating at times but in the end the work, the lack of sleep and the money spent on Starbucks was worth it.
Taking that internship seriously as though it were my only real job changed my life forever. Showing the enthusiasm I did when I found out I was going to walk the red carpet made me more appealing to my bosses because I was willing to do whatever it took (like paying for my round-trip train ticket out of pocket) to get these amazing interviews with this rare opportunity.
Doing what I did and handling it the way I did made my freelance job even more exciting than it originally was, and it was all because I worked as hard as I did as a tiny, unknown little intern.