近海る (Kin Kairu)

JET, Japan, Journalism and other J words

A Tale of Perseverance

Now, for the other reason I haven’t been writing as much: I just got an internship! I’m not sure how much at liberty I am to say exactly where, but maybe I’ll have a chance to write about the experience in the future. To say the least, it’s something that will at least allow me to harness my Japanese and Journalism skills.

But this isn’t just any old internship, at least for me. It was my third time applying for it.

“Damn, Kyle, this must be one hell of gig.” Well, it’s unpaid, 10-20 hours a week for about six months and most of the articles I write won’t have my name on it, but I really couldn’t be happier (before getting into any of the “unpaid internship” talk: since I can’t accept any income from outside sources and have plenty of free time, it works considerably well in my favor).

However, I want to at least talk about the journey I took, the missteps I had and what all of this might mean for the future.

I remember when the website first put up the listing. It was the first of its kind, at least for the business they covered. While I was still in high school, and just then been cultivating my interest in journalism as a career, I remember immediately pulling up Word and asking my mom, “Hey, how do you write a cover letter?”

A month after applying I received an email from the (then) Editor-in-Chief of the website. While he just asked what my education plans would be for the future, I responded with full, hoping that maybe it was my “in.” He responded saying I had made it onto the short list, but they decided to take on a person more into their college career. He told me to apply again the next time there was an opening.

The email ended with “Best of luck.”

About a year later I moved to Missouri to fully begin my “training.” I joined the local student newspaper, pulling all-nighters and laughing at in-jokes with the rest of them. While I still wasn’t in the J-School yet, that “Best of luck” from a year before was still in the back of my mind. I applied for the internship again that winter, as well as some editor positions at the same student newspaper. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” I told myself. “Something should come out of this,” I told myself.

I wasn’t hired for anything.

In retrospect, I was actually putting all my eggs in one basket by expecting I’d get at least one of the positions I applied for. Granted, there were people far more suited for the positions than I was, and no one owed me anything regarding any of them, but it was still a hard lesson to learn; An incredibly important and necessary one at that.

In the reply email, the same Editor-in-Chief (now CEO) said it was a particularly strong pool that term, but with a few more semesters I would have been their top pick.

The email ended with “Please apply again in the future.”

Before I found out about the decisions, I actually talked with my Japanese professor about how I could get credit for the internship, since I wouldn’t be able to get journalism credit in the event I was hired. I remember him slightly nodding, half-agreeing that it might work, until he changed the topic completely.

“Why don’t you just go study abroad instead?”

It was that talk, and that decision, that lead to my first trip to Japan in the first place. A part of me believes this is one point where my timeline splits: not in whether I got the internship, but if I would have ever gone to Japan in the first place. I don’t know if I would have if I was fully admitted into the journalism school. My schedule would be too packed, to say the least. I honestly believe my decision to study abroad was life changing, both in-that-moment and all that would happen afterwards. I sort of doubt I would have gotten into JET if I didn’t study abroad initially. I mean that in both where my interests would have been during my undergrad and if I would have had the qualifications.

Through the rest of my undergrad, I largely forgot about my previous internship attempts. I had my head too far into journalism school affairs, too busy studying abroad in other places and eventually applying for JET. Luckily enough, I was accepted into the later.

There was a moment around last year in late-November, during my second bout of culture shock (despite thinking the exact opposite, CULTURE SHOCK AND THE SHIT THAT COMES WITH IT ABSOLUTELY DOUBLE DIPS), I looked at the open-internship position again. While I never stopped reading the site because of my lack of success, I took a closer look at the listing: deadlines had changed, more staff had been hired and more emphasis was placed on those wanting to take it for college credit, although anyone was invited to apply.

I thought about my situation, with all the free time, general unfulfillment and lack of challenge, and looked at the deadline again. While I had just missed the winter deadline, applying in March to start in the summer was an option. I pondered a little more, opened my cover letter and resume to rewrite them, had some people look over my new copies and submitted my materials once more. This time, my expectations were significantly lower, but I really had nothing to lose.

It was explicitly stated that the staff only contacts people they are considering to hire, and not receiving any reply for two months made me think I wasn’t accepted once again. I was out of college, and having a full-time job might have scarred them, I thought. It could have been a multitude of things, really.

After one particularly bad class, I sat down at my desk and noticed an email.

It was one of the editors doing a followup. A few emails and weeks later, I was offered the internship position.

Since then, I’ve done my initial training and have already started my regular shift schedule. It’s still sinking in that I’m now working for a website I’ve been reading for years. It’s still a little surreal to see the same writers I’ve followed on the site now casually reply to my emails, too, but so far I am enjoying it. I know I’m a lowly, dirty intern, but they sure are good at making me feel welcome.

But, what does this mean going forward? Obviously, if my time is being place in other sectors, it will be hard to invest my time into other things like, say, writing a blog. Hell, I’ve already talked about this!. In the summer months this will be different, but after obtaining this internship, I’m really not going to let the time slip by; It’ll be December before I know it, and I’m not going to waste this opportunity.

No, this is not the eulogy of this blog. Absolutely not. I will not allow myself to let this thing fail. But perceptions may change, the timing of posts may change (yes, I am aware of the haphazard schedule), the layout may change, I don’t know, but I’m absolutely not done with this. I’ve somehow accumulated a viewership, that appears to appreciate what I write here, which I really couldn’t be more grateful for. There are more than enough things I want to write about (you should just SEE the amount of drafts), but it’s just a matter of when: when I feel I have everything I want to say; when it’s good timing to post it; when there’s actually something to be said.

The path in front of me is changing, but that’s exactly how I wanted it to be. To be able to look back at the last year and think about how much I’ve accomplished, seen and done is pretty amazing and I wish I could say to my deep-in-second-round-culture-shock self back in winter, “hey, man, things are gonna turn out great.” As short as this internship gig may be, the time leading up to my departure from JET will also arrive before I can comprehend it, whenever that date may me.

Until then, there’s still plenty more on this wild and crazy ride.

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