Mark Schafer, who will be a senior next year at Iowa State University, will spend his summer in Spencer as the intern at the Spencer Daily Reporter.
"I'm excited for the opportunity that I get this summer," Schafer said. "It's important to get as much real-life experience as you can in college, and working for the Reporter will be as real as it gets and the experience will help me in the future."
For Schafer, who originally comes from the state of Wyoming, this summer will be spent by learning the ins and outs of community journalism, which will help him as he continues his studies when he'll return to school in the fall.
"We're excited to have Mark on board," Daily Reporter Managing Editor Randy Cauthron said. "He will be largely involved in coordinating and producing our Clay County Fair preview edition. We hope to be able to use his writing and photography skills in our newsroom, and provide him with the opportunity to gain an inside view to a team of journalists dedicated to community journalism."
"He seems to fit in well with our new team dynamic since joining the staff. We don't believe in using interns as gophers. We want them to be an active part of the team."
Schafer has always enjoyed writing, but it wasn't until he took his first reporting and news-writing class that he decided that writing for newspapers is what he wanted to do. After spending two years on a speech and debate scholarship at Casper College, Schafer moved to the University of Wyoming, where he wrote for the school paper, The Branding Iron, writing about campus events.
"I just wasn't happy in Laramie or going to school at the University of Wyoming," Schafer said. "I wanted to experience life outside of Wyoming, and after I visited Iowa State's campus I knew I wanted to go to school in Ames."
Briefly, Schafer returned home to finish his associate's degree and continued to write sports, as well as some news coverage for the Laramie County Community College Wingspan. Schafer graduated with his associate's in May 2011.
Schafer began attending Iowa State University last fall, where he continued to cover sports for the Iowa State Daily.
Not wanting to return to Wyoming, just to move back to Iowa three months later, Schafer decided to stay in Iowa and eventually was offered and accepted the position at the Daily Reporter.
"Outside of Ames and the Des Moines area I don't really know anything of Iowa besides Spencer," Schafer said. "I want to meet the people of this area and really experience what small town Iowa life is like, and I think Spencer and Clay County will help me do that."
The first time Schafer ever visited Iowa was a visit to Spencer in 1997, for a family reunion. Up until September 2011 that was the only time that Schafer had spent time in Spencer, but when he saw the opportunity to work in Spencer for the summer, he decided to at least apply, knowing that he has family in the area.
In addition to writing for the Daily Reporter, Schafer can also be found writing about NASCAR on the weekends. In November, Schafer accepted the opportunity to write for the website, ThePaceLap.com. Through that website Schafer was able to cover the first NASCAR Nationwide Series race of the season at Iowa Speedway on May 20, 2012.
He'll return to Newton for the other NASCAR races that will take place there this summer, but Schafer also plans on visiting the local tracks this summer.
"Iowa is a great state for racing," Schafer said. "Of course there is the NASCAR track in Newton, but it feels like every local area has a dirt track, and those are where the future stars of the sport usually get started, so I can't wait to watch the local races."