Summer internships make a difference

Learning on the job

Photo courtesy of Nick Rogness
This spring, an unexpected turn of events led Luther College undergraduate student Nick Rogness to a summer internship with The Norwegian American. Here Nick is sitting at his desk at his parents’ home in Roseville, Minn., from where he worked remotely with the newspaper’s team in Seattle.

Luther College

When I started planning out my summer for 2022, I had no idea I would end up at The Norwegian American newspaper as an intern. I expected to work as a counselor for Skogfjorden, the Norwegian Language Village at Concordia Language Villages (CLV) in Be­midji, Minn., so I could improve my skills in the Norwegian language. I did everything in my power to end up there: I applied, answered their additional questions, and even did an interview in Norwegian.

Alas, my potential future as a camp counselor was not in the stars, as a combination of low enrollment and a large pool of qualified applicants meant that even though I was considered qualified for the position, there was no space for me.

At this point it was already May, so I scheduled a meeting with Maren Johnson, my Norwegian professor at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, as I was getting a little desperate to find something that I could do. Fortunately, she had something in mind: a summer internship at a newspaper.

While I was certainly grateful for the opportunity, I was a little apprehensive. Writing has never been my favorite activity in school, as I much prefer doing other kinds of assessments, instead of long essays or papers. Still, I decided to go out of my comfort zone, and I scheduled an initial meeting with Lori Ann Reinhall, editor-in-chief of The Norwegian American, shortly afterward.

Going into this internship, I expected to be doing some writing in Norwegian. I was able to read through a copy of the paper beforehand and I was especially interested in the Nyheter section. While I certainly wouldn’t be getting as much experience as if I were immersed in the language at CLV, I hoped that I would get some more experience writing longer pieces, which would prepare me for my upper-level Norwegian courses in the future.

After my initial meeting, however, I learned that The Norwegian American gets its Norwegian news content from NTB, the Norwegian News Agency, Norway’s equivalent to The Associated Press (AP) newswire. While I was a little disappointed I wouldn’t be writing directly in Norwegian, I started working on other projects right away.

One of the first things I worked on was becoming comfortable with all the tools and processes used at The Norwegian American. To do this, I helped by completing various tasks like adding users to a database or helping proofread an edition of the paper. These tasks gave me an understanding of how the paper functions and what kinds of things need to be done.

After I had been doing this for about a week, I got my first big assignment: writing a feature article for the Summer Recreation edition. Lo and behold, I would be writing about Skogfjorden, the place I hoped I would be working for the summer. While I was excited to write such a big article, I was also nervous because, in addition to writing not being my favorite, I also had no experience with the style of writing needed for an article. The type of writing I was most familiar with was academic essay writing, but those skills would be less helpful in this application.

For this article, I ended up interviewing two people associated with Skogfjorden to learn more about the camp. I learned so much through these conversations, and I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to write that piece. All in all, it took quite a while to write that article, but I am proud of the work that I did. I learned about the importance of creating an initial treatment or outline for an article, crafting pertinent interview questions, keeping to a set word count, securing the right photos with permissions, and adhering to a style guide. I also learned that there are many steps that go into the newspaper’s quality control process before it goes to press. Be sure to check out the July 8 edition to read my very first newspaper article!

In addition to my big story, I wrote on all sorts of other topics. I did a film review of the Netflix film Eurovision: The Story of Fire Saga, I did other feature articles like writing about Norway House’s Joe Grødahl’s run on the popular television game show Jeopardy! and I even wrote a sports story on the Richfield, Minn., girls’ soccer team’s chance to compete in the Norway Cup. So, it seems fitting to be ending with yet another type of content, an op-ed.

While I certainly did a lot of writing at this internship, I also had the opportunity to work with other parts of the business. I was introduced to different parts of the paper, so I could learn how it functions from more of a financial perspective. That’s when I started working on a project with data from the subscribers. As a data science major, this was a major highlight for me. I was able to put the knowledge I learned in class to good use and see why this field is so influential. Working with this data to see what kinds of patterns and trends stood out was one of my favorite parts of my internship, and I’m sure the experience I gained from it will be invaluable for my future.

I don’t know what exactly will be coming up next for me in life. I know that I’m going to finish my undergraduate education at Luther, but after that it gets a little more uncertain. I could see myself pursuing graduate school, maybe even in Norway, or also going straight into the workforce, if I find something compelling. What I do know is that whatever I end up doing, this internship will have helped me in many ways. Not only do I have a portfolio to use with future applications, but I also have the experience I gained working as a part of a hardworking and dedicated team. I wouldn’t expect that I will ever work for a newspaper again, but … never say never, right?

This article originally appeared in the September 2, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Nick Rogness

Nick Rogness is a student at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, majoring in Nordic studies and data science. Nick grew up in the Twin Cities in Minnesota and is a intern for The Norwegian American for the summer of 2022.