For the past few months, I have been working with The Independent newspaper’s team as an administrative assistant, as part of a job training program. Being a high school student, this job like many others has some unique challenges. However, the business experience I have gained has been very rewarding.

When I applied for this job, it became apparent to me that there were many opportunities for me to improve my writing, photography, and graphic design skills. My first day at work, it was clear that I was nervous. However, I value the importance of making a great first impression. I envisioned that my first day would entail me getting familiar with my surroundings, but instead I was greeted by immediately being given tasks that included creating calendar events and taking calls.

My responsibilities vary from week to week, with the primary focus to assist the newspaper’s editor, Leota Harriman, in any way possible. I am fortunate to be mentored throughout the internship by Leota, who is very educated and motivated.

Caught taking notes at the board meeting of the New Mexico Press Association. Photo by Leota Harriman.

Leota took me to my first board meeting. It was a meeting of the New Mexico Press Association, which starts with breakfast with state legislators in Santa Fe before going to the board meeting. The Independent belongs to the press association, and Leota is a vice president on its board.

I learned at that meeting things I never realized, for example, the many newspaper companies there are in New Mexico and the problems newspapers must deal with. That includes financial budgets, transparency issues, and finding ways to promote the newspaper industry. I was surprised to learn about the many issues newspapers face. I knew that my generation has migrated to online news, but I never saw it as a major problem to the newspaper industry. I was glad I could offer input to ways that this problem could be resolved.

The overall internship experience has been very positive. Each new responsibility is an opportunity to learn and become better for my future. Currently I have been working on the social media updates and the graphic design for a special publication, Women in Business. And through my trial and errors, I have learned how to excel and focus on the purpose and details of the graphic design.

In addition, I’m part of a team at East Mountain High School that participated in a competition last week with BPA, Business Professionals of America. Part of my submissions came through my work at the newspaper, especially in graphic design and business promotion.

Our team won first place and we will now compete at the national level.

This job has provided me a chance to reflect upon what I have learned in the past and I have been able to gain some very important insights of working with highly informed co-workers. This has been an experience I wouldn’t gain from a classroom environment. Obtaining this job has opened my eyes as to what direction my life will go and that is an experience I couldn’t have gained anywhere else.

Leota Harriman
Leota Harriman

Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at news.ind.editor@gmail.com.