nternships present an amazing opportunity for any student to gain real-world professional experience, to strengthen her portfolio with published writing samples, materials, or on-air clips, and to get a taste of potential career opportunities after the completion of her education. In our department, internships are required for some concentrations, but internships experiences are open to any student in any major. They are designed to give students hands-on experience working for a business, organization, or, in some cases, an individual professional. When completing an internship, students register for the internship for college credit (ENG/COM/EQJ 355), complete tasks assigned to them by the supervisor at their site, and submit materials to the faculty director in order to document their learning. Internships require at least 120 hours of work for the site. They may be undertaken in any semester after the junior year (including summer) at a location chosen by the student in conjunction with the faculty director and the Director of Career Services.
In the past, department majors have interned for newspapers, radio and television stations, non-profit organizations, corporate public relations and communications offices, and even acted as research assistants for prominent authors and scholars. English, Communications, and Equine Journalism majors should choose a business or organization where they can complete several pieces of professional writing. Some of the hours at the internship may include research and attending meetings, but both the student and the supervisor should keep professional writing as the focus. In the past, interns have written press releases, news articles, newsletters, websites, pamphlets, fliers, user manuals, and research summaries.
To document their learning, interns in English, Communications, and Equine Journalism typically submit a portfolio of writing produced for the site and a journal that includes reflections on the experience and the student’s career goals.
To enroll in an internship, begin the following process early in the semester prior to the term in which you plan to serve as an intern.
· Attend the Internship 101 workshop sponsored by the Career Development Center and pick up the internship packet.
· Write a resume and submit it to the Director of Career Development.
· Meet with Professor Lisa Woolley to discuss your goals for the internship.
· With the help of the Director of Career Development, look for sites at which you could intern.
· Contact potential sites and complete their interview process.
· Complete the paperwork required by Wilson College; it will need to be signed by Lisa Woolley, the Director of Career Development, the supervisor at your site, the registrar, and the dean of the college.
· Students are strongly encouraged to attend a workshop on creating e-portfolios.
Most students learn a great deal about themselves and their chosen field in the process of the internship. Below are a few difficulties that students sometimes encounter and tips for handling them
· Despite their best intentions, site supervisors occasionally cannot find time to give the intern assignments. If your site supervisor seems to have disappeared, contact your faculty director to see if some gentle nudging from the faculty member will help.
· The supervisor gives the student assignments, but they do not seem to take very long and then there is nothing else to do. Be prepared to take some initiative. If the site supervisor is temporarily out of work for you, take some time to learn more about the business or organizations of this type. Your research may prepare you to take on new kinds of assignments.
· The supervisor is not providing much feedback about the intern’s performance. All supervisors will fill out an evaluation of the intern at midterm. Meanwhile, realize that in the workplace employees often do not receive a great deal of feedback, unless something is going wrong! Remember, too, that in most cases supervisors will not consider themselves teachers. They will not be expecting to go over drafts of your work carefully and then make detailed suggestions. In terms of editing for grammar and punctuation, they often will be expecting you to be the expert.
· The supervisor does not seem to know much about handling others’ intellectual property. Interns can not be expected to be experts in copyright law. Be aware, however, that, in writing you produce for the site, simply listing the source of images or reprinted materials may not be enough to satisfy legal requirements. Be especially careful about using others’ intellectual property. Alert your supervisor if you think the business or organization where you are interning will need to obtain permission or pay a fee in order to reproduce an image or extensive quotation in a project you are doing for them.
Internships are usually tremendous experiences for Wilson students. Some have resulted in job offers; all have broadened the horizons of the students who completed them. Careful preparation can ensure that your internship experience is a positive one.
HEAR FROM A WILSON STUDENT!
How did your internship complement your studies?
Courtney Wolfe completed an internship as a project research assistant to a member of the Wilson faculty.
My internship was crafted around my goal of graduate work. As a research assistant, I performed graduate level, if not above, research for a member of the English department. I learned that research at the next level is very specific and began to create searches to hone-in on the desired material. Additionally, I learned how to catalog and organize mass quantities of research for a project, which has been helpful in graduate work.
-Courtney Wolfe, BA ’12, MA ‘15
Xiaomeng Li completed a summer internship in 2010 at Pittsburgh Magazine in Pittsburgh, PA, where she worked as an article researcher, fact-checker, and even wrote for both the print and on-line versions of the magazine.
I felt fortunate to work at Pittsburgh Magazine because, unlike some heavily commercial-driven magazines, it provides a lot of useful information and everyone in the office puts a lot of effort to make the magazine a pleasant read. As an intern, I realized how difficult and time-consuming it is to publish a monthly magazine with all those interesting, exciting, and informative articles and pictures. Everyone had his or her particular job in the office, but in the end when everything came together, I could see the diligent teamwork that made all the efforts worthwhile. This internship also makes me think about my future. I also worked at the local newspaper—Public Opinion—last winter, and now having worked both at a newspaper and a magazine, I have a fair understanding of these two different aspects of the print media industry. -Xiaomeng Li, BA ‘11
Rebecca Cheek completed an internship during Summer 2008 as the tour manager of a band, traveling with the group and taking charge of the band’s marketing, press, and management. She writes about the experience below.
For my internship, I worked as Tour Manager for a band called Blushing Well, whose hometown is Chambersburg. During my time with the band members, I learned much about the art of diplomacy both in writing and person-to-person. Also, I learned that no matter what kind of work I go into after graduation, professional courtesy is an absolute necessity.
What I learned while an intern has greatly enhanced my education at Wilson. Because of my internship, I am grateful for the education I have received thus-far in my classes, particularly those in my chosen career field. It is very easy to confuse classes, socialization, and the college atmosphere as a permanent facet of my life, but it is not. Being an intern made me realize that college truly is not the "real world" and I must treat my final two semesters as preparation for what is to come.
Above all else, my internship opened my eyes to my need not just for a job that pays the bills, but also one I will enjoy. –Rebecca Cheek, BA ‘09
C.J. Giacomini ’12 interned for Horse News, a monthly newspaper that covers the Mid-Atlantic region. At the magazine C.J. worked as an editorial assistant and even wrote stories that appeared in the publication.
I had a ton of fun learning about how a newspaper gets put together and all the work that goes into it. I got to edit results, help judge the photo contest, and I even got to write a few articles for the magazine. It was great to see my work in print! This internship was an amazing opportunity to see behind the scenes in publication. For anyone looking to go into the Equine Journalism major interning at a place like Horse News is a great way to see what the major can do in action and to see different aspects of the sport, since papers like Horse News cover everything from hunters and show jumpers to racing and steeplechase. It’s a great place to learn new skills and put to use what you are learning at Wilson. –C. J. Giacomini, BA ‘12