About the Author: Noor Nanak Singh from Ramjas College shares how his passion for writing helped him in getting an internship at HT City as a journalist after his 12th standard exams.
After my class 12th exams, I wrote emails to the editors of all major newspapers, talking about my passion for writing, requesting them to give me a chance to write in their newspapers. However, I didn’t get any responses for a week. Then, I thought of writing an email to Sonal Kalra, National Editor, Entertainment and Lifestyle, Hindustan Times, whose Sunday column I keenly follow. In the email, I talked about my passion for creative writing, and the reason for taking up the same as my career. Sonal ma’am replied within an hour and asked me to bring a few of my write-ups along with me. It would be an understatement to say that I was flabbergasted by her response. I was called for an interview on the next day.
The interview comprised of 2 rounds: first, I was interviewed by Medha Shri Dahiya, Assistant Editor, HT City, and then, by Sonal Kalra herself. Medha ma’am asked me a few questions about the brand: “When was Hindustan Times founded?”, “What is its circulation?”, “Who is its Editor-in-Chief?”; I answered all these questions. Next, I was asked about the difference between soft news and hard news through examples. I answered that hard news is the news related to politics, crime, or business matters like the election of a new minister, a car hijack, GDP fall, etc. Soft news, on the other hand, is more light hearted and concerns technology, celebrities, etc. like wardrobe malfunction of a celebrity, the launch of a new smartphone, etc. Following which, I was asked about the qualities that differentiate HT City from its competitors to which I answered that HT City covers a greater variety of issues, it’s easy to read, and its headlines are quirkier than the other newspapers. She then asked me about my favorite section in the newspaper, and the reason behind it. I answered it was Sonal ma’am’s column, ‘A calmer you‘ which provides a refreshing take on contemporary issues and is packed with her idiosyncratic humor in a colloquial language. Impressed by my answers, she asked me to wait for some time.
After some time, I was called into Sonal mam’s cabin; it was dreamy sitting in front of her. She asked me how their office was different from my imagination. I replied that it had a cool and casual appearance without any dress code. Next, we talked about my hobbies where I mentioned about the novel I was writing. To this, she asked about my write-ups which included poetries, quotes, and extracts from my novel in which she saw a glimpse of her own writing. She asked me what inspired me to write a novel. I told her that I wanted to do something grander than the people of my age; narrating stories came naturally to me, and so, my first instinct was to make a movie, but I didn’t have any funds. So I decided to write a novel where the sets were free, the actors costed nothing, and all I needed was a pen and a notebook. Impressed, she offered me a 15-day full-time internship as a journalist in My City team. (Later, the internship was extended by one week as I was handling several projects); I was exhilarated! She instructed me that the provisional id-card I’d be getting was as powerful as a press id-card which in itself was a huge responsibility. She advised me to choose my words carefully and opt for a neutral and refined language.
Initially, my tasks included curating the Dil-se section in the newspaper where anyone could send messages to their loved ones, and a few of them were published every day in the newspaper. I transcripted two interviews: first, that of the owner of an art exhibition who talked about the current art scene in India. The second was that of an organizer of a local film festival who talked about a large no. of movies which were being made into books. My transcription experience helped me gain insights into the types of questions that could be asked in an interview. I conducted two interviews: one of a tea seller who had more than 24 books in his name. The other person I interviewed was a retired journalist who had built a home-made air-conditioner. Some of my other responsibilities included converting news stories from the press releases forwarded by my seniors by removing the promotional content, putting quotes of the concerned people, getting better images, and giving them catchy headlines. However, my primary task was to think of interesting topics to do stories on and to know what is trending by keeping a constant check on social media. I earned seven by-lines during the course of my internship. I wrote an article about refreshing desi summer drinks in the capital and where one could have them, for which, I and my senior went around Delhi searching for the perfect summer drinks. I also wrote an article about traveling apps that would help someone navigate across Delhi. However, my biggest achievement was writing a page-one article about the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, traveling by Delhi Metro.
I got to work with and learn from extraordinary professionals who helped me whenever required. I gained a lot of insights into the creative as well as the technical prowess that goes into the process of making a newspaper. I understood how different writing for a newspaper is from writing a novel. I closely observed the intricate process of designing a newspaper, right from choosing and placing the pictures, choosing the font size and the color, and using the empty spaces, to placing the advertisements.
My friends were jealous that our office was regularly visited by celebrities like Akshay Kumar, Shruti Hassan, Irfan Khan, Deepika Padukone, R. Madhavan, and Kangana Ranaut to promote their movies as a part of Stars in the City, and I got to see them all. The most exciting part of my internship, however, was on the last day when Sonal ma’am gave me an invitation to Delhi’s Most Stylish, an annual event hosted by Hindustan Times where a host of Bollywood actors, politicians, business leaders, artists, and designers come together to celebrate Delhi’s innate and distinct sense of style. It was a star-studded night, and I was probably the youngest of the three-hundred guests invited to that private party at Oberoi hotel, Gurgaon. The guest list boasted of Akshay Kumar, Arjun Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Gul Panang, Shashi Tharoor, Manish Malhotra, the hosts of AIB – Tanmay Bhat and Gursimran Khamba, and more celebrities from different walks of life. While going back home, it felt like a magical end to my internship experience during which I had gained a lot of knowledge and made some lifelong connections.
Are pen and notebook your buddies too? Give your writing career a boost by applying for these awesome content writing internships.
Editor’s note – If you also have an interesting story to share, you can now participate in Your Internship Story Contest 2017 and win cash prizes and goodies worth INR 1 Lac!