Summer jobs offer direction

Published 5:21 pm Monday, June 7, 2004

By Staff
This summer, we at The Brewton Standard are blessed with a little help.
Matt Jordan, a student at T.R. Miller High School and son of District Judge David Jordan, is spending his summer mornings at The Standard to learn about the newspaper business and offer us a hand in just about every aspect.
In his first few weeks here, he's worked with the circulation manager, gone out to take photos at a few different events, written some stories and done a lot of heavy lifting. Working with Matt reminds me of when I was an intern in college and later, when I supervised other college interns.
I think there are two key lessons to be learned from any summer job or college internship.
First, a young person who is contemplating a particular career -- like Matt is -- can get a good idea about in what direction to go, while gaining irreplaceable experience.
My first internship was as a writer for a public relations department at my college. I started as a nervous interviewer, and spent six months becoming more comfortable with talking to strangers, taking photos and seeing my work in print. I got plenty of practice for the career I'm in now, and I could better imagine being a professional writer, but there is another useful side to our pre-career employment.
Yes, that second lesson is all the things we learn from being at the bottom of the heap. I don't mean to make it sound like I think summer workers and interns should suffer three months of filing and stapling because those of us in higher positions would rather not have to do it. Kids like Matt take on an apprentice roll, and if treated with respect and guidance, they can become great sources for fresh ideas.
For example, this week Matt asked, "Have we done a story about the pools opening?" Well, we hadn't, but what a good idea and an opportunity for good pictures in the heat of the summer.
Having to solve problems and come up with ideas can be good training in an environment like this. Young workers aren't generally given enough responsibility to make huge business-altering mistakes, but when given their own projects and a little room, they get to figure a lot out for themselves.
Finally, the contacts and impressions that young people make during their summers really can lead to permanent employment as adults. Even a summer job as a lifeguard -- if done well and responsibly -- can secure a position for that student for a few more summers thereafter.
I'd like to say "Good Job" to kids who are spending this summer in some productive capacity, and I hope haven't embarrassed Matt so much that he doesn't come back tomorrow.

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