Editor, journalism major will intern at The GR Press
Rachel Watson, “Your Life” editor for The Herald, got an internship at The Grand Rapids Press.
A junior majoring in journalism, Watson bested more than a dozen applicants for this summer position as a copy editor. With only college experience and no previous internships, she got the job despite the newspaper’s criterion of prior interning before consideration.
Watson heard about the internship from Dave Murray, adjunct professor of journalism and education reporter for The Grand Rapids Press. Watson is a student in Murray’s news writing and reporting class.
“Dave said I had a really good chance because he knows my writing skills and my strengths as a journalist,” Watson said.
She spent Easter break preparing her resume and assembling her newspaper clips and quickly mailed them. Once she got the interview, she went through about an hour of questioning. Afterwards, she was tested to assess her skills. Before the test, she was given a break.
“I went to the ladies room and banged my head against the wall and was just like ‘God, help, God,’” Watson said, because she felt the test was crucial.
The test consisted of Associated Press style, spelling, grammar, headline writing and everything else essential for great copy editing.
A week later, Watson was lying in bed sick when the phone rang. After looking at the caller ID, she knew the final moment had come. They informed her that she was selected.
“I wanted to cry, and I just sat there for like three seconds, waiting and just letting it all sink in, and I just kept saying ‘Wonderful, wonderful,’ over and over again,” Watson said.
Andy Angelo, news editor for The Grand Rapids Press, said the newspaper was looking for someone who would be excited about being in a newsroom.
“Rachel struck us as someone who is very enthusiastic about the business, about newspapers and someone who has a good talent as far as writing and editing and hopefully some design experience,” he said.
Angelo said the newspaper staff was pleased with the Cornerstone student newspaper and journalism program and believed that Watson had a good beginning background. She also did well on the test.
“So we figured that, in her case, this was one instance when previous internships were not required,” he said.
The news editor said that because The Press is an afternoon newspaper, Watson can expect 12 weeks of 4:30 a.m. shifts. As soon as she walks through the door, she will be editing stories and designing and producing news pages.
“But we also think that she can expect to get a lot of guidance and a lot of mentoring from a lot of pretty darn good journalists,” Angelo said.
All the mentoring and guidance received will definitely prepare Watson for her new role as managing editor of The Herald next semester. The current managing editor, Laurie Hekman, is graduating.
“I admire and love Laurie Hekman so much for everything that she has done for The Herald, and to see me filling those shoes is a really scary thing,” Watson said. “Not only do I have to make it better, I have to keep it at the same level that she’s set, which is really high.”
Hekman said that Watson will do great.
“I think she’s going to be wonderful. She knows what she’s doing, and I think that if she just has faith in her ability, she’s gonna be a rock star.”