About two months ago, Robin Good sent out a call for new interns at MasterNewMedia. And I am one of those who answered that call. What you are about to read is a personal reflection on what it is like to intern here. Although Robin did ask that I write this, these thoughts and words are my own. It is a personal account, and it is - to the best of my own ability to portray it - the truth about my experience here.
Photo credit: Andre Deutmeyer - with Seoul, South Korea, behind him.
I have broken this story into four sections.
I am my dreams. I don't consider my past to be the most important thing about me. Or even what I am doing right now as an adequate description of who I am. To understand me you have to understand my motivations... my dreams.
And the one dream that has followed me throughout my life is the dream to be self-sufficient - not in the sense that I can support myself (that I can already do) but rather in the sense that I am in control of my day to day decisions (what I wear, when I work, where I work); that those decisions are my own to decide and not someone else's. It is the dream to be my own leader.
But it is also more than that. It is also the dream to do something fun, so that work doesn't feel like work. This is actually a revelation that I have only recently come to, thanks to my girlfriend. I am in search of a job where work is not tedious, but passionate; a job that I wake up excited about and fall asleep dreaming about; a job that feels like play.
So with that said, who am I in the more literal sense?
I am not what you might consider a typical intern. I am no longer in school. I have a steady job. And because I must support myself, I do not have the time to devote myself to this endeavor full-time. Yet despite this fact, I do work closely with the MasterNewMedia staff, and I am taking my first steps into the field of internet publishing. So while my background may not fit that of a typical intern, my actions do.
Outside of MasterNewMedia, I am an English teacher in Seoul, South Korea. How did I get to Seoul? The long and the short of it is that I just woke up one day and found myself needing change.
After graduating from The University of Texas, I found myself in the position that so many graduates find themselves in. I wanted to do things, and those things just didn't include working a 9 to 5 job. A good friend suggested that I come out to Korea. I said why not, and the rest is history.
Today I work for an English academy by the name of Chungdahm Learning.
I've been working for Chungdahm Learning for over a year now, and although I like working there well enough, it still lacks something. It is too corporate, too wrapped up in doing things a certain way for me to find the freedom and the passion that I so badly want.
MasterNewMedia is an opportunity to do something different and find something I can become passionate about.
Firstly, I appreciated the sincerity with which MasterNewMedia operates. From the very start, this has been a characteristic that has shone through.
Before beginning this internship, there was little doubt in my mind about what I was getting myself in to, or what I would get out of it. Robin was very clear about what would be expected of me. And if you are curious, here it is:
What I have come to learn is that in the environment we work in at MasterNewMedia - that is an environment where we will never (I use that term loosely) meet each other physically - candor is required. Because without it there would be no team... not in the sense that the team would fall apart, but rather that the team would never have existed. I couldn't work with someone who is unclear about his / her intentions; someone who is afraid to correct me when I have made a mistake; or someone who does not praise when praise is due. And I can confidently say that this attitude holds true for everyone who works here.
But more important than the reason above, it was the education and the hands on experience that I would receive at MasterNewMedia which attracted me to the position. Hands on is the best way to learn in my opinion. And my own experiences (though not really successful) with my own blog on educational technology made MasterNewMedia a very attractive place.
The truth is that my job at Chungdahm Learning is neither fulfilling nor overly demanding. In retrospect, I don't know what I learned at my university. And I feel like I learned more as an intern at the last company I worked at - Apogee Search - than I did in my five years at school. The only high point of my university education was writing my thesis on Second Life. And even then, I wasn't actually taught anything. I was merely guided by two very intelligent individuals toward an answer to my question.
MasterNewMedia represents, for me, the opportunity to pursue a job that I may actually enjoy. And like that internship at Apogee Search and my thesis, I will have gifted mentors and a unique opportunity to learn from people who are good at what they do.
These two reasons are what attracted me to MasterNewMedia in the first place. With that said however, my experience with MasterNewMedia has had its own share of difficulties. But as my dad might say even those difficulties have a purpose: "They build character."
"When you're screwing up and nobody is saying anything to you anymore, it means they gave up [on you]... You may not want to hear it, but your critics are often the ones telling you they still love you and care about you, and want to make you better." - Randy Pausch
You may be wondering why I chose to open with that quote. The answer is an easy one. I teach my students that quotes are important, because if you think about it the range of human emotions really changes very little from generation to generation. What I am experiencing today someone has experienced in the past, and someone has said what I am trying to say better than I ever could.
Coincidentally, I just happened to be reading Randy Paush's book "The Last Lecture", and I thought he summed up my feelings perfectly. So now let me see if I can explain how this relates to MasterNewMedia.
Every new experience brings with it a certain number of challenges. The MasterNewMedia internship is not different in that regard. I joined MasterNewMedia knowing that I would be learning something new and challenging... in fact that is why I joined. What I didn't count on was how much I would be learning and how fast. Even things that I thought I already 'knew' were open to review.
Within such an environment, mistakes, inevitably, will be made. I was no exception. I made my mistakes... I still make mistakes but every time I do, one of my colleagues (Robin or Dani) is there to tell me about it... and help me fix it. I may not like it at times. But I always appreciate it.
To give you a rough idea of some of the mistakes I have made so far, I have made mistakes in:
Anyways, why do I mention this?
I mention this because what I learned from my mistakes is important. I will make mistakes. So will you. Someone will correct you. You might not like all of what is being said. But what is being said is there only to make you a better online publisher.
Everything at MasterNewMedia is hands-on. Naturally, Robin and Dani will both provide tutorials on how to do things correctly, but as helpful as listening to Robin or Dani explain how things work may be, it is what I screw up that really demonstrates what I know how to do, and what I don't know how to do. Every mistake is an opportunity to learn something new. And if that knowledge alone is not enough for you, perhaps you will find comfort in the fact that you can work from home in your undies... I do.
Outside of work, MasterNewMedia has affected my life in other ways. Perhaps most dramatically is the fact that my social life is planned rather than spontaneous now. I can no longer naturally go out and meet my friends at Club Mass for a late night of dancing, or sing Journey until 6 am. Now I have to decide a week (or at the very least, a few days) in advance that such an outing will happen, so that I can inform my colleagues at MasterNewMedia and take care of my own responsibilities in time for deadlines.
Is this a sacrifice worth dealing with? I wouldn't be writing this if I didn't think so.
Since working here I have realized that it takes a unique individual to work at MasterNewMedia. You must be self-motivated. There is nobody telling you to show up and work everyday. And some days I wake up, and I imagine how easy it would be to run away... simplifying my life. But every time I do I decide not to. For me, it is that struggle that makes MasterNewMedia a unique place to work. And a place worth working at. Because everyday that I show up, I know that it is because I want to be here.
With the completion of this internship, comes the opportunity to become my own boss. I will graduate from being an intern and become the Editor-in-Chief of my own blog channel. My channel will be part of the MasterNewMedia network so I will be able to take full advantage of the web traffic that MasterNewMedia already attracts to jumpstart my own professional publishing career. AdSense revenue generated by my blog will be split 50/50 with Robin, and I alone will be able to reap the benefits of any additional sponsorship deals. The focus of my channel will by mine to decide (as long as it focuses on new media).
That for me is an exciting opportunity. And it is one that keeps me constantly motivated.
With the end of this report comes one last insight. An insight that sums up my perception of MasterNewMedia.
MasterNewMedia is a collection of paradoxes.
Originally written by Andre Deutmeyer for MasterNewMedia and first published on October 31st 2008 as "New Media Internship With Robin Good: Insights And Advice From A MasterNewMedia Intern".
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