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Natchez intern sees home in new light

In only my first three days as an intern with The Natchez Democrat, my interest in journalism and marketing has been heightened.

My name is Debra Whitley, and as a native of Natchez, it is a uniquely rewarding experience to work for a well-established local publication. While working in the newsroom of the Democrat, I have been under the guidance of several skilled reporters and photojournalists. I even had the opportunity to shadow reporter Lindsey Shelton and photographer Brittney Lohmiller on several assignments.

By working so closely with the journalists, I am able to witness the development of a story from its beginning to its completion. On my second day interning, I accompanied Shelton and Lohmiller on an assignment and observed as the two employed skills they have acquired over the years to piece together a story to be published in less than 24 hours. The remainder of my time at the Democrat will be spent with the advertising department where I expect to learn more about marketing, designing graphics and generating funds through advertisement sales.

My interest in journalism initially began at Natchez High School, where I worked on the newspaper staff. In the four years I attended Natchez High, I was actively involved in several organizations, such as the National Honor Society, Student Council and Beta Club.

My experiences with the school’s newspaper, however, held the most significance. After graduating Natchez High as the valedictorian of my class in 2012, I chose to continue my education as an honors college student at Ole Miss. I was initially unsure of what career path I wanted to pursue.

Fortunately, during a summer visit to Ole Miss, I was introduced to a fairly new program within the journalism school called integrated marketing communications.

I was drawn to the program because the work it entails requires me to expect the unexpected. Professionals within the marketing and journalism fields are asked to communicate with others daily, solve problems as they continually arise and complete tasks that sometimes do not fall directly under their job description, all of which can be challenging, yet exciting.

I am now in the middle of my sophomore year pursuing a bachelor’s degree in that very program as well as a minor in business administration. When I return to Ole Miss for the spring semester next month, I plan to continue a marketing internship with Ole Miss Athletics.

Although I am not majoring in journalism, the degree program I am currently enrolled in shares many attributes with journalism, such as the expectation of effective communication skills.

By returning home to intern with the Democrat over my Christmas break, I hope to accumulate skills that will help me in my future career, view my hometown from a refreshed perspective and be introduced to new ideas as well as people.

In the short time that I have been with the Democrat staff, I became acquainted with several new faces and friendly personalities. Consequently, I am grateful for the opportunity it has given me to further immerse myself in the field, and I am eager to learn more through my week-long internship.

Debra Whitley is Natchez High School graduate and intern with The Natchez Democrat.