** This post tells three stories. Thus, it can be a bit long. But as I have the writer’s hubris, I think every word is worth reading! **
Occasionally, my print reporting professor will send out a few assignments to the class with only 24 hours to turn the story in.
That means within 24 hours, we need to get out to the event, interview at least 3 sources, and then turn in the article by e-mail to the professor.
Today was such a day. The assignment was to cover the hatching of 9 horned lizards at the L.A. Zoo. According to the Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians, these lizards are extremely rare, and it’s the first time this species was successfully bred in a zoo.
At first I was groaning inwardly. I hate begging for rides (the L.A. Zoo is far!), and I was looking forward to sleep in this weekend (I had to get up at 7 a.m).
But things worked out.
I found a ride with three of my classmates, and we had a good chat. The baby horned lizards turned out to be pretty cute. We met the famous Associated Press photographer, Nick Ut. And I got to stroke a baby Komodo Dragon.
In other words, I really enjoyed myself.
Yes, things have a way of working out.
When faced with a difficult situation, my first instinct is to stress out. But after the initial moment of panic, when I put my trust unto God to work things out for me, even the tightest doors and windows fling open.
The early morning L.A. Zoo reporting expedition is one example. Yet another perfect example is my internship.
Just like any other college student, internships are CRITICAL to a journalism student. Maybe even more so, because journalism skills cannot be taught. It must be experienced. You can’t ever get better without marching out into the field, wrestling for scoops and quotes, making mistakes and then learning from them.
But the problem is, most internships want students with experience. Even though the whole point of internships is to get experience. And me? I had none.
The font in my resume is big, because a whole page is too large for me to fill. I have a year and a half at the Daily Trojan. I have my blog. I have a year at Cold Stone’s Creamery, and half a year at Olive Garden. And that is it.
I applied to many, many internships. Most of them, I didn’t even really want; I just wanted them as a stepping stone to a more desirable internship—namely, a respectable print media located in L.A that will actually pay me to work and learn.
But I seemed to be tossing my resumes and cover letters and writing samples out into a vast, immaterial black hole called the World Wide Web. I got no replies, and for the few that did, told me flat-out that I was not experienced enough.
Obviously, I was dejected. I started wondering if throwing myself at the feet of these faceless employers and sobbing hysterically would help. But I also knew that my true employee is not XXX company. It’s God. And from what I have experienced, God can work miracles if He want to.
Well, He did.
Yesterday afternoon, I was offered a summer internship position at the L.A. Times.
It was a terse, polite e-mail:
Greetings, Sophia. I’d like to offer you the Calendar internship for the summer. Please call me when you get a moment and I’ll fill you in.
My first response: Is this spam?
After quickly turning away to calm myself, I turned back to the computer screen and re-read the e-mail.
My second response: Holy smokes. This is for real. *Eyes widen. Jaw drops. Clutches head.*
My third response: Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Thank you, Lord, thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouuuu!!! *lifts hands up into the air and sings Hallelujah*
It’s true. You may not believe it at the moment when you feel crushed or defeated, but it is so true: Things work out, always for the best. Thank GOD I did not get accepted to the other internships, because my first (and hopeless) choice has always been the L.A. Times.
I didn’t even plan to apply to the summer internship at the L.A. Times, because one of their requirements was that I had to be a junior or senior (I’m a sophomore), and they choose only 14 interns out of the 600 hopeful applicants.
But my dear friend Mimi encouraged me to just give it a shot anyway, so I did a little prayer, kissed the seal of the fat application, and mailed it to the L.A. Times.
A few days later, the recruitment director asked me in for an interview. I liked him instantly. I prayed that he liked me too. By the time the hour-long interview was finished and I was walking out of the grand L.A. Times building, I turned around and stared for a very long time, my heart aching to work in even the tiniest cubicles of that building.
And now, just like that, notified by an e-mail of 3 brief sentences, I am in.
I apologize that this post is long. I guess I could have just screamed out: HELL YEAH!! I got the internship!!!
But this acceptance is so much more than my ecstasy and excitement right now. It is a prayer answered, a beacon of hope in the face of obstacles. And I just really needed to preach that.
I have another special story to share. It is the story of a business/finance/real estate graduate whose doors opened in to an interesting life path—an ice-cream shop.
His name is Matthew Kang, and he is the author of the brilliantly-written food blog, Mattatouille (which I mispronounced, shame on me).
(Stole this from his Facebook account)
He is also a fellow USC alumnus, a proud Trojan who used to read the Daily Trojan daily. I pitched his story to my editors, purposely adding that he’s a devoted Daily Trojan reader, and they were really enthusiastic about the proposal.
Thus, with the help of my church friend Halim, we drove to a little strip mall at a tiny neighborhood called Palms. And there, in the heart of Overland Avenue, was the darling ice-cream shop, Scoops Westside:
It’s the younger sister of the original Scoops at Heliotrope Drive, which was opened by the Master of Flavors, Tai Kim (I made that title up, but the guy truly deserves it).
You see, Matt’s place of solace during his college years was Scoops, the wonderful, glorious ice-cream cafe that spun different innovate ice cream flavors daily. Almost every day, he would stop by this place to chill.
But one fateful day, he approached owner Tai, who was gobbling down a bagel sandwich.
“Did you go to culinary school?” Matt asked.
“Go to culinary school?” Tai gasped as if insulted, his eyes flashing indignantly while cream cheese dribbled down his chin. “Why, I taught culinary school!”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Matt had always liked food, but it was Tai, and Daniel (another foodie friend at USC), who elevated him to the bona fide foodie status. Tai introduced him to new, exotic flavors such as truffles, pandan, durian, and foie gras.
Soon, Matt was obsessively educating himself on all things food through the Food Network, several cookbooks, and numerous explorations around Whole Foods and the farmers markets.
When he graduated, Matt got a job as a credit analyst for an L.A. bank, but quit 2 years later because frankly, his heart and mind was on food. So he gave up a responsible job, and threw himself into the doors opening to a new career…as an ice-cream man.
Hm, I just have to imagine what his conversation with his parents must have been like…
Matt: “Mom, dad, I spent $240,000 on tuition fees to scoop ice-cream.”
Matt told me his dad thought he was crazy at first. But now, apparently his parents are sooo proud of their boy, and cannot stop bringing their friends over to show off. But honestly, if Matt was my kid, I would be bragging every chance I get, too. “
Because what Matt is doing? It ain’t all fun and games. It’s legit HARD WORK.
Throughout the 40-minute interview with him, Matt had to get up several times to attend to customers, because basically, Scoops Westside is a one-man show.
Matt does practically everything by himself there, from managing operations and finance and marketing, to serving, making drip coffee, and cleaning (Read this post and that post to get the details on running an ice-cream store).
But still, Matt obviously loves his job. Day after day, customers swarm into his shop in the middle of a forlorn neighborhood, and leave with huge grins on their faces. Because Scoops ice-cream truly rocks. And is there a childhood treat as iconic as good, old-fashioned ice-cream?
The day I visited, Matt was offering 7 ice-cream flavors:
- brown bread
- raspberry white chocolate
- pistachio orange water
- chocolate guinness
- hazelnut marsala wine
- non-dairy strawberry balsamic (vegan)
- non-dairy caramel oreo (depends-on-how-obsessive-you-are-vegan)
Don’t ever ask Matt for frozen yogurt. He refuses to sell it, because he thinks frozen yogurt is overrated.
“People think froyo is so healthy, when it is so not,” Matt groused. “And then they refuse to eat real ice-cream because they think it’s unhealthy.”
I rolled my eyes in agreement. I like frozen yogurt okay, but it is FAR inferior to the taste of real ice-cream.
I wanted to treat my friend Halim to ice-cream for her chauffeur services, but Matt ended up treating both of us instead. Halim got four flavors:
Brown bread, Pistachio Orange Water, Hazelnut Marsala Wine, and Caramel Oreo.
I got a special cup for mine because Matt knew I was going to take a picture of it. I love it when food bloggers understand me. I love it more when they feed me.
Scoops ice-cream is amazing. The flavors really stand out and pop. It’s not gummy or dense like store-bought ice-cream, which contains stabilizers. They taste fresh. They taste creamy. They taste slow-churned with love and patience.
Since Halim is sensitive to sugar, I helped sample her ice-cream, too. Turns out my favorite flavor is the brown bread ice-cream, which is this intensely milky swirl of creamy ice with crunchy, wholesome Grape Nuts cereal. Truly a gastronomic revelation.
I was originally going to order ice-cream after the interview, but my friend Halim could hardly wait. Matt got concerned that my ice-cream was melting while I was interviewing him, so he offered to hold the recorder for me.
Terrific customer service. No wonder the customers keep on coming.
One very, very cool thing about Scoops Westside is that it’s a Blogger’s Cove. When I arrived that afternoon, Josh from Food GPS and Zach from Mid-Town Lunch were chilling in the shop, blogging. Can you spot them in this picture below?
They are two food bloggers whom I have been stalking for years!! My tell-tale accent totally flushed out when Matt introduced me to them. Zach is such a regular at the shop that he manned the station while Matt had his interview with me (he’s the one above scooping ice-cream while Matt works his charm).
And throughout the interview, a couple more food bloggers cruised in and out of the store. Damn it, I really wanna hang out at Scoops daily now. Damn it, I really need a car.
But hey, it appears that God is opening that door, too. Since my summer internship at the L.A. Times requires a car, I’ll be looking up on car rental services soon.
But in the meantime, I’ve just got to be patient. Besides, if I got a car now, I probably will be camping out at Scoops Westside 24/7 and being a huge nuisance to everyone.
See? It all works out. For the best.
Question of the Day: What is the flavor of your dream ice-cream? If you could intern anywhere for a few months, where would you choose?