Walking into USA Today HQ: that nerve-wracking first day

Dean’s Intern Alex Beall at USA TODAY.

This morning, January 13, 2014, I journeyed down to Tyson’s Corner, Va. to brave my first day of interning for the investigative team at USA Today. While I have interned in newsrooms before, none of those previous organizations rivaled the scope and size of the news organization I was about to join.

As a second semester senior, I was determined to hold an internship position to finish off my college career and began applying to any editorial-related internship I could find, regardless of whether I thought I was qualified. USA Today was one I did not hold much hope for, but thought I would try my luck. But now here I am, joining the investigative team.

Before even starting my time in the office, the magnitude of the organization struck me when I signed the confidentiality agreement. Maybe that aspect of joining a competitive news company doesn’t strike others, but I had never signed one before and assumed secrecy surrounding projects was a given. While I was first surprised, it made evident the fact that I was finally entering a high caliber news room and would experience that world first hand. Almost as if to emphasize this point, my supervisor would not reveal the projects I would work on until I was in the office.

As expected, the first day was slow as I got a tour of the newsroom, was introduced to my team and other reporters and settled into my desk and USA Today laptop. My supervisor sent me information to read about the project on which I would be helping another team member and I met the breaking news team in the case that I would be called over to help out in a time of crisis.

Most interestingly, I sat in on a newsroom meeting, one of the daily three. Reporters and editors tossed around the top stories and updates and provided information and input on other reporters’ stories. While the meeting did not last long, it was my first time watching a large newsroom working to publish the latest and biggest top stories…even if it was a slow news day, as my supervisor told me later.

To complete the day, a member of the team assigned me a researching task in relation to his current project. One that was enough to finish off the day and provide me with work for the next day when I returned to the office. Though I know my tasks will not always be the most glamorous or interesting, this internship will ultimately give me a realistic glance into investigative reporting and further shape my future career goals.