When I started contributing to the Jewish Link in the middle of my sophomore year as a sports photographer, I never expected to become a “journalist” in the process. I wrote my first story for the Jewish Link in early December of 2014, and continued to write several other articles, on assignment, throughout my junior year.
In addition, I planned on interning for three weeks as an editorial intern at the Jewish Link during the summer. Little did I know what that job would entail. Would I shuttle coffee back and forth, file paperwork, count ceiling tiles and make more coffee? Would I get a lunch break?
Thankfully, my job as editorial intern was simple enough: collect information for world and Bergen news briefs, conduct interviews, go to events, write articles and proofread articles for grammar mistakes. I didn’t file any paperwork, nor did I make any coffee—thanks to the Keurig machine in the office kitchen.
My editor, Elizabeth Kratz, answered all of my questions and helped me get comfortable writing for a newspaper on a schedule. She told me of a mantra to help me get settled: In medical school, after watching your classmate perform a medical procedure, you perform that same medical procedure (not on your classmate!), then you teach it to a different one of your classmates.
See one, do one, teach one.
It seemed simple enough! I watched the other interns, Aviva Jacobs and Esther Hirsch, and learned from them how to format my article to the “AP” (Associated Press) style of journalism. I listened to the interviews they held with people over the phone and I read their articles. I learned how to “proofread” the paper, a grueling task of looking for mistakes in the entire paper, which is more fun when you don’t have to do it alone.
I am not afraid to admit that I am what Elizabeth calls a “workaholic in training.” I don’t procrastinate and I work until I am happy with the finished product. All of the articles you have read (or glanced over in the paper) that are written by me, are carefully constructed and edited until I feel they are perfect. I put my “workaholic” attitude into play every day, and I hope it is clear to readers that I try to put out the best content.
This leads me to begin discussion of my first real assignment, or at least my first time conducting a real interview outside the office. The article, titled “An Evening With the Tanya,” can be found on the Jewish Link website. I was given the opportunity to attend this fascinating shiur given by Englewood’s Rabbi Zev Reichman, and although I was petrified by the idea of interviewing people I didn’t know, I did it anyway. Fortunately for me, the participants at the shiur were friendly and willing to speak slowly as I wrote down their quotes.
I watched other journalists ask questions, and with each new interview, I found myself become more relaxed with the process. I knew what kinds of questions to ask, and learned to expect what kinds of answers I might receive. I conducted several interviews in person, and many more over the phone. I became more of a people person, as I learned how to interview correctly.
I learned many practical life skills working at the Jewish Link, not just skills for working at a newspaper, but for working anywhere. Interning changed my work ethic: I can churn out ideas and articles in a few hours, a skill I am hoping helps me succeed as I endure my final year of high school.
I had seen and done enough that when the next intern, Bracha Leah Palatnik, came in to the office, it was my turn to teach.
Although she has completed her internship, Amanda Leifer, a.k.a. “workaholic in training,” will continue writing articles as a contributor to the Jewish Link. In the fall, she will be a senior at Frisch and can usually be found playing guitar in its hallowed halls. For questions or comments email [email protected].
By Amanda Leifer