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In His Words: Interning in NYC

Senior journalism and geography student Keith Rutowski has garnered life experience (and some clips) during his internship at National Geographic Adventure.

Date: 4/15/2009
By: Keith Rutowski
Other Contact: Kim Burdett
Other Contact Phone: (513) 556-8577
Photos By: Provided by Keith Rutowski
The life of an intern in New York is much like the city itself: fast and dirty. You’ll miss the color green almost as much as your bank account will. You’ll quickly tire of tuna and pasta. And when you are nearly trampled in Penn Station by thousands of crazed commuters, you may find yourself wondering what you did to deserve all of this and why you are doing it at all.

Keith Rutowski.
The journalism/geography student has spent the past four and a half months interning in New York City.

I was pondering these questions myself the other day. A long haul in from Long Island (why I am living out there is an entirely separate horror story starring New York City housing) had left me feeling particularly despondent. But, as always, the swift and decisive answer to my existential question came as soon as I stepped off the elevator and saw the clean, red letters: National Geographic Adventure. Somehow the daily grind and general malaise of intern life in New York had once again blinded me to the fact that I am doing exactly what I have always dreamed of and worked towards. I am an editorial intern at a national award-winning publication and part of one of the most deeply respected societies in the world. Each time I inform a source of where I’m calling from I make an effort to duly note it myself. And each time my chest swells a little.

Keith Rutowski.
Rutowski spent much of his time exploring the city, as seen here on the Brooklyn Bridge.

I can honestly say that my internship experience has been a success in nearly every sense of the word. The sacrifices I’ve made along the way are small debts to pay for such a rewarding experience. The internship—like most of this caliber—has been research heavy. While my job description is not nearly as glamorous as trekking the globe, intensive archive research and source interviews have afforded me many exciting vicarious experiences. For instance, I could tell you what it’s like to work on an offshore oil rig or to explore a cave in Laos. I could tell you a bit about the benefits and dangers of certain crash diets, or give you the latest updates on geographic- and performance-based technology. Ever wanted to travel to South Africa? I could tell you all you need to know—places to see, places to skip, the location and elevation of its mountain ranges, and how to pronounce those tricky words derived from Afrikaans. If you need a good source of information for booking a trip, any trip, I’ve got a source for you. This is only the tip of the iceberg.

In addition to amassing a wealth of knowledge, I’ve amassed a substantial number of writing clips. In journalism, clips are the proverbial golden tickets into the industry. In the industry, the National Geographic Society is the benchmark. In this way, I hope my internship here is equivalent to a foot in the door—and perhaps a leg and torso, too. I’ve had the opportunity to photograph performances for the Web site’s online world music blog, interview revered explorers, and pick the minds of talented writers and editors. This is all added to the fact that I have spent four and half months living in one of the most exciting cities in the world.

Yes, I’ve suffered the traffic, omnipresent grey, and painfully high cost of living; but I’ve also had the chance to enjoy all of the museums, food, nightlife and inspirational events and people the Big Apple has to offer. Despite the trials accompanying it, this internship has truly been the experience of a lifetime. And the next time my train is unforgivably late or the price of pizza is astronomical, you can bet I’ll remind myself of it.

Rutowski has written for a number of organizations, including the University of Cincinnati, The News Record, Cincinnati Magazine and Soapbox Cincinnati as well as National Geographic Adventure. Below are a few examples of his work:

Explorer Tom Avery on Solving the North Pole’s Century-Old Controversy

Music Friday: Brooklyn Philharmonic’s Eclectic Shuffle Mode (With Sufjan Stevens)

Diamonds in the Rough: A Price Hill Story

UC Students Just Back from Trip of a Lifetime to China

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