When Leah Johnson, the former President of our IUB NABJ chapter, told me to apply for the Knight CUNY Journalism Fellowship, I wasn’t too sure about my chances. The program offered everything from transportation to internship placement in New York, but the program would only accept 20 people. I decided to apply anyways and thought ‘what did I have to lose’?
After a Skype interview and months of waiting, I got a call from Joanna Hernandez, the director of the program. She said she wanted to make sure I was in good standing with NABJ, and then told me I was one of the 20. I screamed. I yelled. I ran around my apartment and I think eventually I cried. Then I thought about how much money I would need to save to intern for two months in New York. Luckily, I got a stipend from the program.
I was placed at Voices of New York, an online publication that covers immigrant and minority communities in New York. Being that it was my first time in New York, I was nervous about reporting on communities and people that I had no knowledge about. But it worked out. I worked on feature stories, covered press conferences in a day and worked side by side with the photography intern, Alex Ayala, who was also part of the Knight CUNYJ Cohort. And when Alex was out covering other things, I had to take my own photos, too.
Working at Voices and being a part of this fellowship taught me so much about being a journalist in this digital age. We had class in the CUNY Journalism Graduate School for the first full of the program, before even touching our internships, and then class every Monday afterward. We went to Times Square to shoot photos; we learned how to do data visualization; and we learned how to use social media to report, and even how to report in general. The classes were from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and I would be lying if I said they were easy to wake up for. But they were worth it.
Interning in New York has been an experience I will never forget. I took subway trains. I made a New York bucket list. I found something fun to do every weekend. I went to the Apollo. I walked quicker than I ever thought I could. I took photos of everything. And most of all, I lived in New York for two months. The Knight CUNYJ Fellowship and Voices of NY allowed me to see a state that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to travel to at this time of my life. It was a much-needed change of pace. Being here for two months made me miss home but it also made me wish my home were more like this. This internship and fellowship taught me things about myself, both as a journalist and personally, that I couldn’t have learned elsewhere.