Inside an internship at PGN

    A few months from the end of the 2015-16 school year, I was forced to ponder the question, what should I do this summer? Even more mystifying, what should I do with my life? As a sophomore in high school, these were the most pressing questions in my mind. I eventually came across an answer to the first, with the hope that it would help me decide the answer to the second: I applied for a summer internship at the Philadelphia Gay News.

    This was my first experience with taking the Regional Rail train by myself, let alone working in a professional environment. I was prepared for menial duties, such as coffee runs and paperwork. On my first day, after conquering the transportation challenge, the environment at PGN pleasantly surprised me. Jen Colletta, the editor of the paper, escorted me to Starbucks in order to discuss scheduling and what would be expected of me. There would be no coffee runs; however there were a few mindless tasks, which I came to enjoy. The internship consisted of two days a week, most of the summer. Colletta informed me that I would interview people, in person and on the phone. This prospect was daunting, since it involved human interaction rather than silently researching and typing. Eventually I overcame this fear, as I got the opportunity to speak with amazing people, like Otter Jung Allen, the Youth Poet Laureate of Philadelphia, or Lady Desire, who was helping her daughter run a drag camp for kids.

    Sitting at a desk all day grew tiresome, but the monotony never lasted long. If I finished writing an article or putting the content on the paper’s website, there was always something long-term to do. I was in charge of organizing the Summer Youth Supplement, and there were always emails to send, people to interview and scholarships to research. It amazed me how everything works behind the scenes. Even using the back end of the website was an exciting revelation.

    During the summer, the Democratic National Convention took place in Philadelphia. This rare opportunity meant that for a week or so, the office was in chaos. The staff at PGN slaved for most of the day to keep up with the normal paper while also reporting on the DNC. They often stayed out until 11 p.m. or later in order to attend press conferences and speeches. Throughout this, they retained a relentlessly positive attitude. Publisher Mark Segal, who worked on the upper level, would frequently come downstairs just to joke with the staff. The work ethic present at PGN was extraordinary and admirable.

    The employees at PGN were extremely patient, gladly helped me if I accidentally pressed the wrong button and shut down the computer, or forgot the process for uploading articles onto the website. Colletta was extremely helpful, teaching me the grammatical nuances of writing for a newspaper, and showing me how to transcribe interviews with alarming speed.

    The experience I gained from working at PGN was extremely valuable and enlightening. I learned about careers and spoke with some incredible people. I have no idea if I plan to pursue journalism in the future, but after completing the internship and being immersed in this exquisite world of writing, I would strongly consider it.

    Eliana Berson is a junior at Abington Senior High, and is considering majoring in English or political science.