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A day in the life of a D.C. intern

Janelle Vreeland

An examination of a day in the life of a 24-year-old working in a big city

After attending college in big mid-Atlantic city, I fell in love with it. I find the city just big enough, incredibly manageable, and lots of fun. After persevering for six months post-college trying to find a job or an internship, I landed a position at a newspaper in the city and have enjoyed every experience here for the past year and a half and am looking forward to many more. But what’s life like on a day-to-day basis? Here is an examination of a day in the life of a typical 24-year-old working in a big city:

8:30 a.m. – Get on the bus to head into work, since I’m avoiding public transportation because of delays from a then-recent crash. Pleased it’s nearly empty, crank up Jackson 5, and start reading the a commuter edition of a widely read newspaper.

9:15 a.m. – Arrive at work, give coworker I look up to whom has been in the journalism business for years a birthday card since we are born two days apart. Check Gmail, Facebook, chat with cubicle mate about the weekend.

9:45 a.m. – Send out e-mail reminders to press secretaries about upcoming special section, Many will need second reminder by mid-afternoon. Special sections are inserts in the paper where we invite leaders to write opinion-editorials on various issues. I typically call or e-mail press secretaries to ask if the leaders they represent would be interested in writing. Once a month, I write my own stories for a different type of section, with themes such as “dining” or “arts and entertainment.”

10:45 a.m. – Leonardo DiCaprio’s publicist e-mails me back about energy section. Unfortunately, DiCaprio is filming abroad and unable to write, but publicist wants to meet for a drink if I’m ever in NYC. I jump up and down with excitement in my cubicle. Took an e-mail break and g-chatted with my best friend and dad about my birthday tomorrow.

11:30 a.m. – Started making calls for more Democratic representation in my upcoming energy special section. Most are very receptive, as energy is a big issue these days. Usually I try to call leaders who are in the news for their legislation involving the particular issue.

12 noon – Called press secretaries for added section next week. This is harder to get people to write with a shorter notice, but everything usually works out. Still, it’s a considerable frustration. Much less frustrating: Making lemon bars as an attempt to learn to cook this summer. I brought them into work and they were a success! Most of the interns ate them, and I ate two myself. De-lish.

12:30 p.m. – Usually eat lunch at desk, had leftover chicken fajitas on a salad and some Diet Pepsi because I need caffeine. Read and, which are my lunchtime rituals.

1 p.m. – Began researching more politicians and celebrities to call for energy section. Most are Senators and Congressmen who have been lobbying for various energy-related issues. I try leaders from Michigan to talk about the cash for clunkers program.  Reading lots of news Web sites like

2 p.m. – Called FCC Press secretary again to try to get them to write for an upcoming section on technology. Perseverance and patience are virtues in this business, to be sure. But on a lighter note: Laughed with some members of advertising about a coworker’s husband’s surprise party. Back to business, I IM my boss about special reports.

3:30 p.m. – Contemplated taking a walk because it’s so pretty outside. Decided best to stay in and work. Spending time outside tomorrow in honor of my birthday will suffice. I then e-mail staffers for dates for my Wednesday announcement page. My announcements include birthdays, engagements, weddings and new babies. Might seem mundane, but someone’s got to do it. Broke down and went for a walk anyway.

4 p.m. – Sent out afternoon e-mails to the people who didn’t get back to me in the morning. Chatted with a press secretary about how unusually busy this summer is. The press secretary and I became friends last year after we both found out we were from Pittsburgh. It’s a small world, etc.

4:30 p.m. – Reviewed special reports for July, figured out how many more Democrats and Republicans we need for each, as every section needs a balanced amount of each party.

5 p.m. – Began wrapping things up and responding to e-mails I haven’t responded to yet today. There are always a few that get put aside because of newsroom busy-ness.

5:15 p.m. – Headed home to do laundry after a day’s worth of work

As you can see, I am learning many different experiences working at the paper, including being tenacious in communication, and using technology to interact with co-workers. I read different news outlets every day and have become better acquainted with what makes a great story. It’s important to remember that if you want something badly enough, keep working at it. As cliché as it sounds, you’ll eventually end up exactly where you’re supposed to be. I know I did.

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