We all have a story

Back at the beginning of the year, in January, I had already set up my summer. As part of my degree requirements at Clarion University, I had to complete some form of internship.

It was a mandatory thing, I couldn't get around it, and though I was hesitant at first, I found what I thought was a great opportunity interning in Washington D.C. for the Department of Justice.

During those first three and a half months of the year, I worked diligently to realize this opportunity.

I had it within reach. I was going to spend my entire summer in the nation's capital. I was going to do good work and have a unique experience working in government.

Little did I know of the pandemic that waited to strike around the corner.

You know what they say: "the best laid plans of mice and men."

COVID meant no more D.C. internship, no more opportunities for me to expand my range.

I used to be busy with school and my friends. My daily schedule would be full of things to do.

Suddenly it cleared up -- and there was nothing.

All that I was doing before stopped. Time seemed to freeze in March.

From that point on, it was all online school and lying in bed during the middle of the day swiping through Tik Tok on my phone because, frankly, I had nothing better to do.

I knew I still needed to do something as an internship. It was simply a requirement I couldn't put off.

Nevertheless, inaction was king and the days of spring blended with one another until it seemed there was no day-night cycle to divide them. Every day was the same.

Summer came and classes ended. I was even more bored and disappointed now.

"What could I do?" I wondered to myself. I needed something to do, as I hate being idle, but I felt discouraged and lethargic.

Finally, I decided to reach out to my academic advisor at Clarion University, Dr. Andy Lingwall.

With his help, I got in contact with the editor of The Derrick, Luka Krneta and the editor of The Clarion News, Rodney Sherman.

After a couple of weeks of back and forward with the three of them, it was decided: I would be interning at both newspapers for the rest of the summer.

I was to go to The Clarion News first to help out with the annual special edition: Clarion County Today.

I remember when I was told I was starting on a Monday, June 15.

To be honest, I was not excited. I thought I had made a mistake signing up for this internship

The weekend before my first day I felt trapped.

Maybe I should cancel it, I thought. I would make some excuse not to do it and spend the rest of the summer locked in my room, isolated from others.

I didn't do any of that, and instead on Monday, June 15 I showed up at The Clarion News offices nice and early at 9 a.m.

I was introduced to the staff at the newsroom and didn't have to wait very long after introductions to get to work.

Editor Rodney Sherman immediately gave me a list of businesses I was responsible for, gave me a little overview of what I was to do and then let me go and do it.

I was scared at first. People from my generation don't usually call each other, not to mention cold call strangers and interview them, but I did it.

It was uncomfortable at first, but I slowly got the hang of talking and interviewing people.

I realized each business had a story to tell, especially this year. It was my job to bring out that story.

The days kept passing quickly, but I finally felt like I was doing something worthwhile; my life had direction again.

After some weeks at The Clarion News, working on Clarion County Today along with some other stories, I moved to The Derrick.

At The Derrick, I wasn't focused on one particular project. Rather I worked on a variety of stories, covering different topics.

Again, time flew by, but it was fine because I was having fun. My work was enjoyable and I felt like I had a purpose.

For my internship requirements, I had to complete 270 hours of work.

I worked nine weeks -- five days a week, six hours a day. Then, I arrived at the end.

I'm writing this on the last day of my internship, and I can't help but smile.

I can't believe I didn't want to do this.

I'm pretty happy with the work I did. I'm glad I had this experience.

Everyone I've met, whether they were other journalists or people I've interviewed, have left a deep impression on me.

Everyone and every place has a story waiting to be told.

Even in a small area like ours, there isn't a single person out there who hasn't done or seen something newsworthy.

It feels like an honor to have brought to the light the stories I did.

It felt good to have my work recognized and widely read.

Even if I don't choose journalism as a career, I will always be able to look back at this experience and think about how much good it did me. For that, I'm grateful.

The author was a summer intern with the CLARION NEWS and THE DERRICK.