Reflective Essay

           After a long time of searching and looking for the appropriate internship, I finally found an opportunity in an Arabic newspaper in Washington DC. It calls Al Sharq Al Awsat newspaper, which means the Middle East in English. Al Sharq Al Awsat newspaper is an Arabic international newspaper headquartered in London. As an English and creative writing major, I believed that I had to improve my writing skills not only in my creative writing but also in all writing types. Therefore, I was keen to do my internship in a place that gives me good experience and enhances my writing skills.

I do have various goals that I seek from this internship, such as enhancing my writing, communication, and networking skills. I wanted to enhance my writing skills; especially the report and news writing because this type of wiring is the only type that I have never had an opportunity to practice before. Also, to have as much information and experiences as I could gain, not only in the writing field but also in different fields. In this internship, I had to communicate with people and send them  follow up emails and that enhanced my communication and networking skills.

During my internship, I had to work on various major projects. The first project I had to work on was writing a short report about the Saudi Students’ Association club at Marymount University. The Saudi Students’ Association club was having a party or an Arabic night for Arabs living in Washington DC and Virginia, this party was held in Washington DC. I attended the party as a reporter, not a student and that was interesting to me. I took some pictures of the event and wrote the short report once I got home. It was a challenge to me because they asked me to write a very short report that was less than 200 words. As we know, writing less is harder. However, I did it, and they did like my report. That was the first task that I asked to do and I did it very well, and that has encouraged me to keep working passionately.

      “Not all of your work is going to be published, it depends on the newspaper’s headquarter in London.” That is exactly what my internship advisor told me when I asked her about when my first report should be published. To be honest, I felt frustrated and week. I felt that this was my right, to see my work get published if it is well written. I was keen to make some of my work published and I have told some of my friends that my report about the Saudi Students’ Association club’s party was going to be published. I took some time to realize that not all of my work was going to be published. And I did accept that.

My second task was different, and I learned from it new things and information. I was asked to write a long report about the new rules the FDA had made about vaping. I was asked to watch the news and analyze what the president Trump had said about this issue. I was supposed to read many news articles in both English and Arabic, and collect data and write the report. It was a challenge but I was enjoying doing this process. It was long, but I could feel the experience of working on it. The difficult part was that I had to submit the report on the same day the news released. I only had three hours before submitting the report. It was very early in the morning around 7 o’clock, and I had to submit the report at 10 o’clock maxim. I did the process very well, collect the data, read so much, and submitted the report. Luckily it was very well written as my advisor had told me. She sent the report to the London branch and she asked them to publish it, but unfortunately, they didn’t. However, this time I was not frustrated that my well-written report was not published. This time I realized that I am here to gain experience and I am gaining it very fast.

The projects I was working on during my internship were not limited to only writing reports, but also attending international conferences. I have attended two international conferences that were held in Washington DC. Arab Relations sponsored both of them. The first conference was about Yemen’s situation and how Saudi Arabia was supporting them. This conference was important to me. I have met the Saudi surgeon Dr. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Rabeeah who was giving a presentation on that day.

The second conference was insightful. I have attended and volunteered in the 28th annual Arab- US policymakers The Arab Relations conference which was held in Washington DC. I can say that this experience was the most important and precious experience I have ever had. Several important people have attended the conference, such as the Princess Rima Bint Bandar Al Saud, and she also the Saudi ambassador in the Saudi Embassy here in Washington DC. Also, I had the opportunity, and I was very lucky, to greet and talk with the Saudi prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud as I was in the VIP section, I was one of the people who were responsible to greet the speakers and serve them with refreshments.

Moreover, I was supposed to go to the American Ministry of Foreign Affairs with a journalist from the newspaper I am working with to cover the interview and see how this process goes. However, they notified me that unfortunately, I could not enter the Ministry because only journalists were allowed to enter the American Ministry of Foreign Affairs. And I do not even have any permission to go there, as I am an intern.

Another thing that frustrated me was that I had difficulty in scheduling an appointment that works or the three of us, my internship advisor, my academic adviser, and myself. Especially that we had to cancel it more than once and I then started my exams and final weeks and did not have time to reschedule the meeting and see both of my advisors’ time. I was overloaded with assignments, presentations, projects, and most importantly my seminar paper. I barely spend a few hours to sleep.

One of the skills I wish I had prior to my internship is journalism skills. I thought that when they accepted me to work with them in the newspaper, they would teach me writing for journalism from scratch. However, they did not do that. I faced some difficulty in writing in their style at the beginning then I had to teach myself how to write in their style. So I was reading their newspaper every day, practicing their writing, and bothering them with so many questions because I simply wanted to learn and gain experience out of this internship.

Moreover, I wish that I took the journalism course prior to my internship. I enrolled in this course last year but I had to drop it due to the time conflict with another core course that I had to take at that time. I think if I took it last year, my internship would become much easier.

As an English and Creative Writing major, I was asked to write so many papers every day, think creatively, and work in teams. Therefore, that has led me to be able to work under pressure. In my internship, they too asked me to write so many reports and all of them had to be submitted on the same day, which was challenging to me.

At school, working under pressure and simultaneously my work had to be well written is something that helped me a lot in both my education and internship. In the internship, I had to work under pressure even though I am a student. They gave me various tasks to work with but the worst thing was that most of the time I had to submit it on the same day. Also, working in teams was important in my internship, so I think I got this skill developed and I am no more worried about working with others.

I can say that my internship experience was insightful. I have gained various skills and improved my knowledge and networking skills. As for my strengths and weaknesses, I have so many good and essential skills that are my strengths, such as writing in different styles and working under pressure. One more area of strength lies in my ability to do research. Researching a topic that is foreign to me is difficult, and I have spent countless hours learning journalism terms and political rules that I didn’t even know. However, I was doing very well in researching and writing the information appropriately and submitting it on time.

I do have some weaknesses that were bothering me, such as working in groups. I do have the ability to do that, but I do not feel comfortable doing that. I tend to be more creative and active when I am working alone, so working in groups kind of limits my creative ability. However, I had to work in teams in my current internship, I was not comfortable with it but after a while, I noticed that I have improved my working in-group skill.

In my home country, it is very hard to get a job after graduating if students do not have experience in their field. I was worried about my future plan after graduating since I did not have the complete experience in the work field. However, in my English senior seminar, when I shared my resume as an assignment with Dr. Rippy, she noticed my various experiences in my field as a volunteer. She told me that even volunteering experiences would help me in my career, especially that these volunteering experiences were all in my study field which is writing.

Indeed, as I am graduating next semester, I am planning to apply for OPT for only one year, so I gain some more experience in my study filed. In addition, I am planning to complete my education and pursue a master’s degree in English. I am thinking of doing something that is related to teaching English as a second language, TEOSL, as I like teaching the English language, especially teaching grammar. I am also thinking of working in a newspaper and magazine when I go back to my home country. My internship gave me a good experience and provided me with the essential skills to be a journalist, reporter, or editor, so working in a newspaper or magazine will be definitely a good choice.

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