There are lots of terms that could describe me: travel lover; science student; perfectionist. My defining characteristic this summer, however, was “young person who has no idea what they want to do (although travel blogging might be awesome)”. If you feel the same way – read on.
Hi. I’m Isabel, a German-American university student studying the brain. Although I love the subject of my studies, I’ve started having what could be called a “mid-uni crisis” and questioning if I really want to spend my life in a lab poking at slices of wobbly gray matter. I’d become curious about a career in the travel blogging industry, so I jumped on the opportunity to do an internship at Spotted by Locals.
Like other interns, I worked mainly with co-founder Bart, who turned out to be a wonderful mentor. He strongly supports you in learning how to work independently and be creative. A typical conversation that occurred during my internship was me asking Bart, “How should I do this?” and him responding “Well, what do you think?”.
He also encourages interns to focus on areas that they are interested in. For my internship, I wanted to gain writing and editing skills. My overall responsibilities covered two main areas: on the one hand to manage the main blog, by scheduling and editing or writing the articles that got posted on it; and on the other, to manage various tasks on the social media platforms.
A typical day in my internship looked something like this: first up, a meeting with Bart to discuss questions and tasks. Next, social media tasks (like monitoring Twitter for people asking about travel tips, or creating Instagram posts or stories). I would browse through some of the city blogs for article inspirations and cool spots. Then I spent most of the afternoon editing or writing an article.
There were, of course, some challenges. Time management was unsurprisingly the biggest one. For me personally, an unexpected challenge lay in writing about topics that interested me within the constraints of the platform. I learned that to create a successful blog, you can’t just write about whatever you want. The Spotted by Locals main blog follows a specific concept (usually collecting a list of cool spots with a certain theme) to create a niche brand. I was challenged to alter my ideas to fit the existing structure and integrate some of my passions. For example, I got to include my interest in literature by writing an article collecting a number of “secret garden” spots.
For me, one of the highlights of the work was building a “relationship” with a few Spotters – we never interacted, but I would see their spots pop up often, or recognized a particularly funny and quirky writing style. It was cool to have the power to say, I love this spot, or I love how this article was written. How can I share it with others?
The biggest lesson I took away overall was about the work ethic required in this type of job. I asked Bart at one point: “you’ve been working in this industry for a long time. How do you deal with the stress of never being done with your tasks, and having to be creative under time pressure? His response: “That’s a very good question. And I guess the answer is, you just keep going. If you aren’t feeling creative, do other easy tasks today then come back to that article tomorrow. You’re never finished working, but you learn to take it one task and one day at a time.” And I guess if you truly love the result and the lifestyle that comes with it, it’s worth it.
For me, this internship was an incredibly valuable investment of time this past summer. I would still call myself a person who doesn’t know what they want to do, but I feel calmer about that. I have some skills and experience under my belt. If that or anything else above resonates with you, this is an opportunity you should definitely consider checking out.
Interested in being an intern at Spotted by Locals? Contact co-founder Bart at firstname.lastname@example.org