By Lilly Milman
There is a framed photo in my grandmother’s apartment, where I am standing between her and my sister in front of a mountain range. The cloudy sky is mostly obscured by the mountains, and a small town is tucked away underneath it all. A time stamp in the bottom right corner reads July 14, 2010.
I was 12 years old, and I was on an Alaska cruise that had stopped in Skagway. It was the first I had heard of the town.
Finding the Skagway News reporter internship nine years later felt like fate. It was February, and I was months away from graduating Emerson College with a degree in writing. At that point, everything in my life seemed to be ending. I was finishing my degree, preparing to move out of my apartment in Boston, and frantically looking for an answer to the question, “So, what are you doing after college?” The only thing I was truly sure of was that I needed a change.
And that’s when I had the urge to Google “reporter job + Alaska.” Life moved pretty quickly after that. The Skagway News summer internship was one of the first results in my search, and I came across the job posting on the day of the deadline. I sent in my application within the hour, guided by the idea that I was meant to find this position on this day. I began picturing myself in Skagway before the email was delivered.
For the next month, I was realistic and applied to countless other writing gigs in the Northeast. I kept my options open, but that did not stop me from agonizing about this particular application. At times, my desperation got the best of me and I bombarded Skagway editor Leigh Armstrong’s inbox with follow-up emails. I refused to talk about the job with others in fear of “jinxing” it, and I read and re-read articles the paper’s website. However, I also reassured myself constantly that, for some reason, this job was meant to happen.
I left class on a Tuesday night in April to listen to a voicemail left by an Alaska phone number, which informed me that I was being offered the job. I couldn’t dial the number fast enough to accept.
Even now, I am still not sure what compelled me to look into moving across the country, outside of a few fond memories and a brief existential crisis. Just about everything in this town is different from what I am used to, from the people (who actually stop to say “hello”), to the climate, to the pace of everyday life. But looking out at those same mountains from the photo, I am overwhelmed by how grateful I am for all of it.