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Sonya Hartwig

SFU Co-op Student
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication

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Sonya taking a selfie with a CBC microphone and another image of her workspace at the company
I got to reach out to politicians, activists, researchers, artists etc., and hear their stories. I've been able to talk to people doing things that I never knew were jobs, or changing their communities in ways I never knew I had access to.

I cried the day I heard that I had won the CBC Radio Peter Gzowski Internship. I remember sitting outside my work, on the phone with my mom, crying tears of joy and excitement. I knew that journalism would be a great place for someone like me, who was simultaneously artsy and methodical. But I just couldn't believe it was actually happening to me.

This was my second time applying for this internship. In fact, I almost didn’t re-apply this year.  I was feeling the pressure to graduate and start making money to pay bills and start my life. I was planning to put this dream behind me. But my coop advisor encouraged me to go for it, to give it another shot. I am so thankful for that encouragement. It helped me find the courage to persevere.

After applying for this internship for the second year in a row, I had finally gotten it, and I knew that my life was about to change.

The Unusual Path

I have walked an unusual path throughout my degree. I worked while completing most of my classes part-time. This took much longer, but also gave me a particularly diverse resume, and lots of work experience. On my application for this internship, this work and travel experience helped me demonstrate my specific interests, maturity, and hardworking attitude. I also tried to highlight my love for diversity and my interest in telling the stories of hard-to-reach communities.

Journalism was also a great fit for me because of my interest in constantly learning about new parts of the world. At the beginning of my degree, I had the hardest time choosing a major. I eventually realized that I am a restless and curious person. I always want to learn something new, and find a new challenge. So, my favourite classes were usually “intro to something new”. In this sense, journalism has been a perfect fit. I get to do research on a new topic every day... sometimes every few hours!

Training

The Gzowski internship began with a one-week “radio journalism Bootcamp” in Toronto. I have travelled all over the world, yet I had never visited another province in Canada. It was incredible to see such a different city, that was still “Canada”. I spent most afternoons exploring the city and trying to see how it was the same and different than Vancouver. The training itself was approximately 9 am -5 pm and involved a series of lectures and exercises that taught us skills like how to pitch stories and how to write radio scripts. I never realized how much technical knowledge there is within journalism, compared to copywriting or communications. There was so much to know, and I am beyond grateful that I had the opportunity to learn it all!

Vancouver 

Once I returned to Vancouver, I found that our local studio had its own pace and atmosphere, which I had to adapt to. There were little differences in things like how to structure scripts, what type of language to use. With time, I also found that these things would also differ depending on what show you were working on, and who was producing it that day.

Sonya's work station at CBC

I am so thankful for this challenge. As a bit of a perfectionist, it is usually hard for me not to be “in the know”. But this experience trained me to be flexible, and open to making mistakes. The job required a lot of “learning by doing”, which meant I had to get comfortable with the feeling of not knowing, asking lots of questions, making mistakes, and welcoming feedback. My favourite saying was:  “I don't know how to do that, but I'd love to learn”.

Inspiration

I also really enjoyed having the opportunity to meet amazing new people on a daily basis. I got to reach out to politicians, activists, researchers, artists etc., and hear their stories. I've been able to talk to people doing things that I never knew were jobs, or changing their communities in ways I never knew I had access to. These inspiring people gave me new ideas in ways I could further participate in my community, and use my skills in projects that are close to my heart. 

Sonya and her friends goofing around, stuffing their faces with yellow ball-shaped food on a stick

This whole experience has taught me so much about journalism...but also about myself, and about my own city. I highly recommend this internship for anyone who is not only curious about the world but also about themselves.  My advice is to be ready to ask questions, to make lots of mistakes, and to be open to feedback.

If you are curious about the world around you, and like a fast-paced job, I highly recommend applying for this opportunity …maybe even twice! 
 
PS: If you are interested in applying, feel free to reach out to me!

About the Author

Sonya Hartwig

SFU Co-op Student
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication
Connect with Sonya on LinkedIn and Twitter!

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