[New School] Life hacks for Rappler interns and volunteers (Taylor’s Version)

Joan Alindogan

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[New School] Life hacks for Rappler interns and volunteers (Taylor’s Version)
'The ride wasn’t easy for a beginner like me! Entering the newsroom with little knowledge and zero practical experience in journalism had me walking on a tightrope. But I survived!'

Rappler hadn’t been a dream of mine. But I remember standing on the sidelines, feeling envious as I watched students my age become campus journalists. Journalism hadn’t been a dream, either. I just wanted to never stop writing and felt journalism was the closest thing to doing that. However, having zero experience in journalism despite being a graduating Communication Arts student caused my desire for it to falter — to slip away until I was convinced it wasn’t mine to keep.

If I hadn’t gained enough prowess and training, where would I end up after college? What lay ahead had me feeling an overwhelming sense of dread and inferiority. Seeing my campus journalist friends stay up late to write articles and go out of their way to cover school events had me wallowing in what-ifs. What if I had enrolled in a different university? What if I had been confident enough to join publications outside the school premises? What if I never make it? 

Drowning in what-ifs and with only a dwindling passion for journalism, I applied to Rappler’s internship/volunteer program, hoping for the best while expecting nothing. A few weeks later, I passed the application. From then on, things changed. The walls I put up to hold myself back fell down.

Working alongside spirited and uncompromising individuals who mirrored my purpose allowed me to see journalism in a different light. Understanding what it meant to view communities as a group of people with stories to tell made me appreciate the depth of journalism. And as I encountered all my firsts in Rappler, I began to realize that journalists do more than just break the latest news; they also magnify small communities by providing them with platforms where they are empowered to tell their stories. 

Of course, the ride wasn’t easy for a beginner like me! Entering the newsroom with little knowledge and zero practical experience in journalism had me walking on a tightrope. But I survived! 

Here’s how I did it:

1. Volunteer head-first, fearless

“Jump then fall!” was my mantra each time I called dibs on tasks I had never done before. I had never written a feature article yet, but I volunteered anyway. I was apprehensive about covering an event and conducting interviews due to being inexperienced, but I did it nevertheless. Speaking in front of the camera wasn’t my strong suit, but there I was in the production room, being someone I once thought I couldn’t be. 

Taylor Swift once said that being fearless is not “not having fears.” Rather, being fearless is having a lot of fears, but jumping anyway. By being a Rappler intern and witnessing first-hand how journalists fulfilled their roles, I could tell that many things scared them, too. Even so, they hold the line every day. 

My takeaway? Be afraid and unsure, but don’t let it stop you.

2. You’re on your own kid

I had a hard time adjusting at Rappler, particularly as an intern with nothing up her sleeves but dreams and dreads. Rappler is a thriving newsroom that encourages its interns and volunteers to work independently – and when I say independently, there was no spoon-feeding.

I can still recall trying to figure out how to frame the angle of my article and how I had to rack my brain over and over again just to understand what it meant to have a specific lens before writing the story. As someone who had already forgotten the lectures in her Introduction to Journalism classes shortly after exams, I had no idea how to construct my piece. Luckily, although working independently for the most part, my supervisors still guided me along the way. (They’re the best people to work with when you’re young and still learning!) 

Doing things alone will make you vulnerable to making mistakes. I had made mistakes, but working in an environment like Rappler made me value their importance and motivated me to keep going regardless. However, while mistakes are unavoidable over one’s lifetime, they can affect real lives, and given all the trolls watching our every move, one wrong, tiny error could put the media outlet at a great disadvantage. 

How will you know the right thing to do in the newsroom? You won’t.

The scary news is: you learn on your own now. 

The cool news is: you learn on your own now! 

 3. You are what you love

Like Taylor, everything we do is an extension of our writing. Everything is connected by our “love of the craft, the thrill of working through ideas and narrowing them down, and polishing it all up in the end.”

Rappler contributes so much to society, so I felt that I needed to contribute something significant, too. And by significant, I meant writing about the biggest and most controversial stories. However, this meant that I had set aside writing about the things that defined me, the things I was passionate about. That shouldn’t have been the case.

MovePh taught me a lot, but one lesson that stands out, in particular, is “Go back to your roots.” The things we love doing and the people who love the same things we love are a community, and we can write about them because they, too, matter. So always go back to the things you love and focus on the community within your reach. Magnify their stories and put their voices out there — that is the essence of journalism. 

To all of Rappler’s new interns and volunteers, let me say to you now: Welcome to Rappler. It’s been waiting for you. —

Joan Alindogan is an AB Communication Arts student studying at Trace College Inc. She was a Mover from February to April 2023. 

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