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Our place, your voices: Beers, words and oxford commas

My experience as an intern at The Rapidian built my confidence, my career and my connection to the beer community here in Beer City, USA. What could be better?
Sampling flights at Brewery Vivant as part of my work for The Rapidian

Sampling flights at Brewery Vivant as part of my work for The Rapidian /Emilee Andrews

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The Rapidian is your hyperlocal news source powered by citizen journalism. Everything on The Rapidian is about our place- Grand Rapids, Michigan- and written by your voices. Neighbors keeping neighbors informed about local businesses, events, and issues. 


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/Courtesy of Emilee Andrews

When I applied for an internship position at The Rapidian, I did it with the expectation that they might give me an interview, but that they probably would not hire me. The only “real world” writing experience I had at the time consisted of two blogs that I struggled to keep on a regular maintenance schedule. Don’t get me wrong – I had experience with words, and perhaps even some talent, but I was sure there were better writers then me vying for the coveted Local Breweries internship.

What could be better than writing about beer in Beer City, USA? Completely unexpectedly, they called me back and offered me the position and I embarked on my first real writing experience of my adult life. 

Before I started my internship, I wasn’t exactly the most outgoing or confident journalist. My exposure to the real world of conducting interviews was more than a little intimidating, especially when Holly Bechiri, the managing editor, told us it was time to do some mock interviews in our first week. Making phone calls to potential subjects was for some reason the most anxiety-inducing thing I could think of – even worse than the idea of meeting with people face to face. 

Eventually, I got over that. I started having fun immediately. A summer internship writing about beer was every bit as fun as it sounds. I had the chance to meet so many people who were just as enthusiastic about beer as I was and I can honestly say I didn’t have a single negative experience with the people I dealt with to write my articles. The people I met with were nice, talkative and above all, lovers of the hop.

I learned how to ask the right questions and how to keep an interviewee talking to get the best stories I could. I struggled with my fellow interns to keep deadlines straight, to deal with constructive criticism and to keep my writing free of serial commas. I came out of it a better writer, if not a master wordsmith. 

I would love to report that my time at The Rapidian was a springboard into a fabulous reporter on the fast track to the New York Times, but alas, I’m still slogging away at trying to find a full time writing position. I did land a freelance position at my local, small town newspaper and my time writing for The Rapidian was instrumental in securing that for me. One of the editors I work for now at the Daily News in Greenville actually recognized some of my writing for The Rapidian.

Without The Rapidian, I’m not sure I would be any closer to my goal of finding someone to pay me a living wage for doing what I’m passionate about: writing.

Holly Bechiri will always be the first person who gave me a chance to write professionally and without The Rapidian, I never would have had the chance. It was the first time I dipped my feet in the professional journalistic pool and it gave me the chance to be a part of Grand Rapids in a new and in-depth way.  


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