Don’t get me wrong, I did have hesitations as this would be my first solo trip and my first time out of the United States. However, spending the summer in Dublin was a life-changing experience and much more than I could have ever imagined.
After being accepted into the internship program I started interviewing with different companies and organisations within the journalism and marketing fields. When I met with GCN, I knew the position would be a great fit for me because the work was very similar to the classes I was taking at my University.
My first day at GCN as an Online Editorial Intern was a training session to learn more about my role and the organisation as a whole. It was such a relief to finally be in the office and start settling into a new environment.
The next day I attended the content meeting and met the rest of the team virtually. However, I wasn’t expecting how quickly a day can turn within a matter of minutes. The team learned about a recent homophobic attack and were scrambling to decide the best way to handle the situation.
While it was difficult to discuss the details about what this person was going through, it angered me that others were not entirely surprised, and I quickly learned about the rise in homophobic attacks that were being reported in the area.
That first day taught me a lot about what to expect over the next six weeks, but it also was the start of me questioning what my purpose would be within the organisation.
Originally when I started at GCN I didn’t think I would be able to make much of an impact. All I could think about was what a straight white female from the States could contribute to an LGBTQ+ charity in Ireland.
Don’t get me wrong, I was ecstatic to have a journalism internship and the work I was doing was exactly what I was hoping for. However, the pressures of living and working in a new country combined with a topic you don’t have personal experience with was overwhelming at times.
I was embarrassed to make any mistakes at first because I didn’t want to seem careless or uneducated. However, these errors helped me learn about writing style, programs they use, and new ways to share information. It also taught me that it is okay to ask questions. I was there not only to improve my writing but to also become more educated about the LGBTQ+ community.
I will say that listening and observing others was the best way for me to learn. Everyone on the GCN team had such amazing personal stories that helped me learn and change my perspective at times.
Much of what I learned during my time at GCN became clear to me after I returned home to the States. Before working at GCN, I probably wouldn’t have had the courage to speak up in front of others for what I think is right. This came while watching a mother encourage her children to make fun of the Pride collection at the store I was working at. It angered me to see firsthand a child learning to joke about others.
Although the impact I had will be nowhere near that of others from GCN, I do know that what I accomplished in six weeks was important. I wrote 28 stories for the largest LGBTQ+ publication in Ireland ranging from personal interviews to opinion pieces that reached a national audience. I also heard amazing stories from so many amazing individuals, improved my writing skills, and wrapped everything up by marching at my first Pride Parade.
So to my younger self… yes, you do get to travel and see so many cool places. However the experiences you have while traveling and the people you meet are the memorable moments that stick with you for a lifetime.
Ultimately this experience has taught me to continue stepping out of my comfort zone because the lessons that you learn from doing so are life-changing. Although I may not realise it in the moment, these experiences are irreplaceable and help me continue growing.