For the past few months, I’ve been working as an intern at Christian County Headliner News. I grew up in Ozark, graduated from Grace Classical Academy and made the decision to live in Virginia for four years while I pursued a Bachelor of Arts in journalism with a minor in classics at Patrick Henry College. Now a senior, I returned home to finish out my remaining internship credits for my degree.
I’ve lived in Christian County for almost 20 years, but have never been too involved in the community, except perhaps, as a kid. Growing up, I was best buds with the librarians at the Christian County Ozark Branch Library, took home large piles of books on an almost daily basis and attended just about every event that was held there. I was also a member of the Christian County 4-H horse group: W.H.O.A.—Where Horses Offer Adventure—and had the chance to ride in the Ozark Christmas Parade. And you could most definitely count on me being at the Ozark Craft Fair and rodeos at Finley River Park every single year.
But that was the extent of my involvement—until now. This internship gave me the chance to experience more of what it’s like to be a part of this amazing community. I met some great people, had the opportunity to write a number of fascinating stories and got to see the inner-workings of the county.
In addition, I—however briefly—became a member of the community of the Headliner News. I quickly felt at home amongst the hilariously snarky comments of Ashley Sudheimer; the sweet and fun-loving personality of Sydni Moore; the quiet but friendly Pat Dailey; the fabulously dressed and outgoing Tricia Chapman; and the kind-hearted and helpful Rance Burger.
Another bonus was working in an office located on the Ozark square. I have always been in love with Ozark’s charming, historic square and its small-town feel. It was great to be able to sit at my desk and look out upon the portion of the square visible through the window.
During my time interning at Headliner News, I was pushed outside of my comfort zone in a good way. I consider myself to be quite introverted, and as an introvert, it can be disconcerting to show up to an event where I know not one soul in the room. However, I still have to go around, introduce myself to people and interview them because that’s what the job demands. Normally, if I were in the same situation but did not have to act as a journalist, it wouldn’t be so bad; I would just sit back and observe everything going on around me without the pressure to talk to people. As a journalist, I’m the one who has to do the approaching. As an introvert, that can be nerve-wracking at times.
There were a few occasions where I would accompany Rance or Sydni to an event, which took off some of the pressure, but most of the time it was just me inserting myself into a place where I didn’t know anyone. This experience definitely stretched me, and though it was uncomfortable at the time, I’m better (and more flexible) for it.
I am grateful to Rance and everyone at the Headliner News for taking me in and showing me the mechanics of a newsroom. Wherever I may end up next, I know that I will keep with me the lessons I learned while interning at my hometown newspaper.