Tuesday, June 10, 2014

On the Metro

8:32 a.m.

It takes me approximately 30 minutes to commute to my work building located near the National Mall. In that time, I’m pushed into a square car underground with hundreds of fellow Washingtonians and zoomed at lightening speed to my final destination. I’ve done it at least 20 times in the past week (and I’ve been on other metro systems before), but it still strikes me as futuristic. It’s not Harry-Potter-cool travel, but it’s pretty close.

It’s not just the travel that feels futuristic for me: it’s the whole experience. Once I ascend from the Metro escalator, I’m an employee of the Smithsonian Institution. I have a badge on a lanyard and an office with a Mac and a phone. Again, being an employee isn’t a new experience for me — there was the grocery store job, the two bank jobs, my ongoing retail career at Ann Taylor — but I’ve never been a paid employee of a national magazine before. My past magazine experiences have all been enriching and fulfilling, but there is something different, more intense and more real about being an ASME intern. I only left Columbia, Missouri, two weeks ago, but it already feels like a new chapter is well underway.

I think back to orientation a week ago when Ed2010 founder and Parents executive editor Chandra Turner told us, “This program is your grad school.” And, judging from this first week, she is right. Two writing assignments, a special issue collaboration and pile of checked facts later, I am getting the type of experience that any aspiring magazine journalist would dream of. I sit in on meetings and have the opportunity to collaborate with Smithsonian magazine’s editorial and online teams on a variety of projects and tasks. I thrive on this eclectic mix of work. Like many of my fellow interns, I feel that all of my past writing jobs for local and campus media, as well as my magazine classes at journalism school, have prepared me to succeed at this level. But now is the time to put it all to use.

My commute time gives me plenty of time to think. And it usually goes straight to the future I am joyfully, willingly and sometimes terrifyingly speeding toward.

9:01 a.m.

--Kayla Elam, University of Missouri, Smithsonian
Edited by Lindsey Murray, Temple University, Real Simple

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