To rap and ripple: My Rappler internship

Donatela Manlongat

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To rap and ripple: My Rappler internship
'One of the many important things I learned during this internship is something about time and its crucial role in this field – it can be both your friend and enemy'
I hate mornings – with a passion! 

No matter how early or late I would hit the hay the night before, getting a sadsack of bones like me out of bed before 10 is hardly ever an option.

In fact, during the Tuesdays and Thursdays of my freshman year in college, I fixed my class schedule in such a way that class would start at 1 pm. Clearly, whatever positive feelings mornings have for me are not reciprocated.

I was pretty relieved at the orientation for Rappler’s summer internship program when I learned that there was no stipulated time to report to work. I only needed to finish the required number of hours.

Needless to say, my relief was shortlived because I did the math and realized that I would have to start my workday early in the morning in order to clock in my hours before the program ended. I then watched my plans of coming in not too early but working ‘til late circle their way down the drain.

Support system

Even if I knew that I would have to become well acquainted with mornings during summer break, this didn’t dampen my mood. I expected that the mornings would be memorable and worth my while.

True enough, they were. First of all, I found a friend in each of my co-interns. Everyone was very supportive of each other, especially when someone’s article would get published. The excitement we would have for that person made us feel like it was our own name written in the byline.

To add, every joke shared with and every pat-on-the-back received from friends were just what each of us needed when we were close to rolling over in defeat because of stress.

The support system this batch of interns had was truly a strong one.

Time: A friend and foe 

One of the many important things I learned during this internship is something about time and its crucial role in this field – it can be both your friend and enemy. When writing a story, you always have to be mindful of its relevance, because it’s possible that the bit of news you write today may not be relevant a few days from now.

For instance, writing about a particular law in a way that makes it seem timeless might be futile if legislators decided to rework it a week later in the name of relevance. This is one possible scenario where time could be your enemy. Like my plans of starting my workday in the late mornings, you would probably have to watch your article go down the drain, too.

For someone reading your story today, there’s always that possibility that it could hit home and ignite the spark they needed to go out and get involved. These are the moments when time is your friend, because the present – particularly, their present – helps them get the best grasp of the message. 

On the other hand, if the story you’re constructing is time-bound (which is often the case in news writing), the reader should be able to understand and picture the context in which it was written. That way, you’re ensuring that the message is clearly communicated, even if it has been months since the article was published.

Trust your struggle

The most important thing I learned was a product of struggle. I pitched 9 different stories throughout the duration of my internship – with a staggering zero hitting a home run.

At first, it didn’t really bother me. But as the number of pitches I threw climbed higher and higher, I started to worry. Am I doing it wrong, and spectacularly so Are the stories I find interesting deathly boring to everyone else? Or am I just not good enough?

Sometimes, questions like these are enough to make someone want to hang up their gloves for good. Other times, they become reasons to work even harder. Around halfway through the nine-pitch run, I started to think about all the effort I was putting into these story ideas and if it was worth it. 

At this point, I came across a very simple but powerful quote from Iggy Azalea, who, leaving her home in Australia at 16 to make it big as a rapper in the US, is no stranger to working hard: “Trust your struggle.” At one point or another, you’re going to question if what you’re doing is worthwhile, and it might make you want to give up.

But just because something is difficult doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. If you really believe that what you’re doing will come to fruition, you just have to work even harder to make that happen. Worrying, as I came to learn, is healthy. On one end, it can break you, but on the other, it can make you. It can make your hard work pay off!

To rap and to ripple

It didn’t really seem like it then, but the encode-pitch-repeat cycle I became accustomed to helped me grow.

The many hours I spent making sure that I punched in the right numbers and wringing my brain for a story surely did not go to waste, since I now hold degrees in BA Story Pitching and BS MicrosoftExcel. 

Kidding aside, I’m very grateful that I was blessed with this opportunity to work for an honest, credible and excellent company like Rappler. The lessons I’ve learned during my stay will truly guide me in how to “rap” and create “ripples,” the two words that combine to make Rappler.

Someday, I hope to inspire others to discuss not only that which is comfortable but also that which is necessary in order to create the change our society needs.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you, Rappler. May you continue to be a light as bright as morning to the Filipino people.

Donatela Manlongat is a Rappler intern. 

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