University of Southern California

Student Life Blog

First Day Jitters

By Isabella Sayyah Monday, June 16, 2014

LA Times

LA Times

As I arrived at the imposing Los Angeles Times building in downtown L.A. on Monday morning, I thought the feeling in my stomach was just nerves. After all, it was my first day at an amazing internship that I would be dedicating the majority of my summer to. When my hands began to physically shake and the butterflies in my stomach turned to full on nausea, though, I realized it might be something else: jet lag.

You see, trying to maximize my summer as best I could, I decided to squeeze in both a 2.5-week trip to Israel and a ten-week internship, all while leaving some buffer time after school ended and before it started for moving purposes. Which meant I arrived home from Israel (which is a ten-hour time difference, mind you) on Sunday and started interning on Monday. So besides normal everyday nerves, I was also fighting off some serious stomach sickness and sleep deprivation.

Entrance to the LA Times lobby from Spring Street

But as the jet lag slowly subsided from my body throughout the day, my nerves increased. Without much time or energy to be nervous, I had arrived that morning relatively confident about the internship and my summer. Standing in the lobby — one of two lobbies, I should say, as the L.A. Times is actually three connected buildings, which can make navigating the maze of offices and cubicles very confusing — I began to meet the other interns starting that day. The L.A. Times has about 30 interns over the summer, but because everyone has different schedules, start days are staggered over seven consecutive Mondays. Somehow, I chose the most popular day to begin and there were nine of us who needed security access and training.

Speaking to everyone else in the room, I was quickly intimidated. We had been sent everyone’s bios a few weeks ago, but actually speaking to the other interns — all of whom had graduated at least undergrad and many grad school — it really hit me. As I put faces to names, I realized I was most likely the youngest person in the room, and definitely the most inexperienced. One of the other interns had previously interned at the New York Times. Another had just graduated Columbia with a master’s — after serving in the Peace Corps. A third had her Ph.D. in Geology (Ph.D!)

I was still feeling a little out of place, to say the least. I had only completed two years of my undergraduate education, and though I had had internships in the past, they didn’t seem to compare with where others had worked.

My official security pass

My official security pass

But as I started to question my right to be in that room, I realized it didn’t really matter. Whether or not I deserved to be at the L.A. Times, there I was. I had been fortunate enough to be given the internship due to a connection between the Times and USC’s Unruh Institute of Politics, and I owed it to everyone who had helped me get there — myself included — to really take advantage of it. If jet lag couldn’t get me down, a little nerves weren’t about to either. I was there to do one thing, learn, and I was going to make sure it was my most educational summer yet.