August 7, 2013
Thirty years ago this summer, I worked as a Dow Jones News Fund intern in New York City. I was 21 and it was the first time I’d ever left Indiana for more than a few days. As you can imagine, those few months in the big city changed my life forever.
I flashed back to that summer the moment I met two Dow Jones interns from the very same program: Grace Thompson and Samantha Phillips, who are spending their summer working in our editorial department at ASI headquarters outside Philadelphia.
Grace is on the Dean’s List at Rowan University, majoring in Writing Arts and minoring in Journalism. She plans to pursue a Master of Fine Arts after graduating next year and hopes to write the next Great American Novel. Samantha recently graduated from Elizabethtown College with a B.A. in Professional Writing. Her dream is to become a magazine editor, event planner or film critic. In the photo, Grace is to the left of me and Sam (as she’s known around the office) is to my right.
Every day, Sam, who’s 24, and Grace, 20, tackle everything from researching and writing stories for our award-winning magazines to proofreading and assisting during photo shoots, radio shows and ASI events. Everything they do is hands-on, which adds up to critical experience they can tout on their resumes.
ASI interns are paid. And yet, of the one million undergraduate interns helping companies throughout the U.S., roughly half earn no salary, working instead for the experience or the college credit.
Here at ASI, we believe that, like everyone else, interns need money for housing, food, gas – and the occasional new cool apps. In return, they perform much-needed jobs while offering all of us fresh perspectives. Interns can be a great resource to any company, but especially to those courting the next generation. Interns know what’s hot before anyone else, and can provide invaluable insight into products and especially social media marketing.
So don’t just delegate them to fetching coffee. Think of them as junior staff members and tap their brains as often as possible. Someday, you might be working for them!
To prepare for entering the full-time working world, both Sam and Grace spent a week in New York City in Dow Jones’ business journalism residency, along with 18 other interns from all over the world. Grace, a Florida native now living in New Jersey, says her favorite part was being in the heart of Manhattan and experiencing all the different cultures, both within the group and out in the city.
After talking to Sam and Grace and comparing notes on our shared experiences in the Dow Jones program, I was moved to contact the managing editor who meant a great deal to me during my own internship: Jim Furlong.
I was an editing intern, assigned to international business and economic news for what was then a joint venture between the Associated Press and Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal. My job was rewriting WSJ stories so shorter versions could be sent over the wires, to be read across the world. Since I was an economics and journalism major at Ball State University, it was a perfect fit.
The photo at right shows me from around that time, in a college dorm with my friends Cheryl, far left, Melissa and Richard on either side, and Mark, above. Jim, my boss that summer, was 47 – younger than I am now. We initially reconnected on Facebook, which I was delighted to find he also uses to keep up with friends and family. In an email, I told him how much his honesty and generosity meant to a farm kid like me, living in an apartment in Hoboken I’d found on a bulletin board, working the 7 p.m.-2 a.m. shift.
“I want to thank you so much for everything you did,” I wrote, “and everything that came about as a result. I’ve had a wonderful career, which continues, and a life better than it would have been if I had not met you.”
I ended up working at Dow Jones on the newswire side for seven years before switching, briefly, to public relations at an Ogilvy agency. After six months of hating every minute, I returned, but this time on the business side. All told, I spent 16 years at Dow Jones in a variety of senior management, editorial, marketing, technology and product development roles.
Imagine my surprise when, a few days after I messaged Jim on Facebook, I got an actual letter (remember those?) in return. I couldn’t believe how much he remembered about me, right down to the P.R. job, which he described as donning the “flak jacket.” I also had to laugh at his description of my younger self as a “live one.”
His letter, at right, was exactly as I remembered him: smart, warm and funny. “Thank you for remembering one of your old editors,” he wrote. “Your comments mean a lot.”
The lesson for all of us is that it’s never too late to thank those who help you when you’re on your way up. If you’re lucky, they’ll remember you. If you’re really lucky, they’ll call you “friend.”