Editor's note: Samantha Pal is a 2004 graduate of Steamboat Springs High School. Pal is a rising senior at the University of Colorado and recently completed a summer internship at the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. Following are Pal's reflections on that internship.
I figured my editor would give me a series of competency, writing and The Associated Press style tests when I reported to work on day one of my internship, to see if I could hold my own before sending me out to do my first story.
I was way off, as he trusted me to go out and cover a high school graduation on the first day without even asking for an on-the-spot writing sample.
Luckily, his trust was not misplaced - at least I hope not.
I made it through a couple of graduations without a hitch. Soon, I was the reporter who was given all "interesting" and "fun" features, and I loved it. I wrote about cloggers stomping up a storm, the man behind the Maine lobsters in Carbondale, a couple who adore vintage, 1860s-style Base Ball and a New Castle native and a cappella addict.
I was seeing sevens when I revealed why two lovebirds tied the knot on a special date, and hearing jungle animals - and kids - go wild at story-time with Miss Pam at the library.
One highlight was covering my first wildfire, where I got to be, as I imagined, a scrappy reporter covering breaking news, fighting with the local TV news teams for the story. Well, not literal fighting, but there was plenty of it happening in my head.
Back in the newsroom, I grew fond of reporter April Clark's jaunty ringtone as her cell phone sprung to life, and of photographer Kara Pearson's cool Johnny Cash tone, and I wondered how people on the other end could hear news editor Sean Kelly as he whispered into his phone receiver. Sport editor Joelle Milhom's cheery conversations with different athletes, reporter John Gardner's polite exchanges with different "sirs" and "ma'ams," and La Tribuna editor Luis Polar's constant whistling and tapping became a welcome backdrop to the work I would do every day from my desk.
I got a front-row view of the photographers' computer, and I loved peering at Kelley Cox's and Kara's photos even when they were too engrossed with adjusting levels in Photoshop to notice. I even became aware of my editor Dale Shrull's fondness for puns, suspecting that he snuck a few in my stories whenever he could (a cappella "struck a chord," get it...).
Being a girl from another great, small mountain town (ahem, Steamboat), I felt like I had an advantage because I had a slight understanding of small-community journalism. But I'm also a girl who's been going to school in Boulder for the past three years, so I do like my fair share of cultural events.
That's why I jumped at the chance to help April with Options every week. Graphic artists Nuria Moya and Patti Bentley in graphics were patient enough to help me put together a couple of cover designs for the Options section, even with my extremely limited knowledge of Photoshop, and Sean continually answered Quark-related questions as I "helped" place stories on Options pages.
In my free time, I went to a couple of Summer of Jazz concerts with my friend and roommate, and I think we were almost more entertained by the gentleman sitting in front of us who danced emphatically in his camping chair. I visited the Caverns for the first time with my little sis (by little, I mean 17), but I never made it to the Hot Springs Pool. I've been before, don't worry. Let's face it, interns don't make the big bucks, and it's too darn expensive. Plus, Steamboat has hot springs, and my parents will pay the admission fee.
I did find another way to get wet in Glenwood - tubing down the Colorado. Picture this: three girls sharing one large tube, using sticks to push through the slow spots while the wind and rain tried their best to launch us backward. Even better, our tube started our adventure without us and we had to tear through the No Name campground, to the amusement of many campers, to retrieve it.
I snuck off to Steamboat a few times during the summer, as I had to get my Rio (Grande Mexican Restaurant) and family fix. There I shared my reporting experiences excitedly over tornadoes (Sprite with strawberries - I'm so looking forward to turning 21) and chips and salsa.
My time in Glenwood was, above everything else, a great learning experience. Seriously, sentimentality aside, I learned a lot. It was by far the most productive summer I've had while in college, and it sure beat falling into the Gap last summer.
See, Mom and Dad, aren't you proud? And hey, I might actually be able to get a job after I graduate with the experience I gained here. I just hope the people there are as welcoming as everyone in the Glenwood newsroom.