Writing Internship Class Gives Students Marketable Experience
Everyone looking for their first job knows the dilemma: Employers want candidates with experience. But how can you get that experience if you can’t get that first job? And that’s probably true for aspiring writers more than any other profession. That’s why Katherine Tirabassi, associate professor of English and director of the Center for Writing, proposed a course back in 2012 called Writing/Publishing Internship. This seminar and experiential learning opportunity lets students gain practical writing and publishing experience in a professional setting by placing them with one of several local publishing businesses or other organizations that can use their skills.
"Through the internship experience, students learn how to transition from the expectations of academic life to the expectations in a professional workplace,” Dr. Tirabassi explained. "In the internship course, we talk about how to structure their time to move their work forward, to communicate their progress to their site supervisors, to get feedback on their work. Students who get the most out of their internships have learned how to communicate regularly with their site supervisors (asking questions, asking for feedback, sharing drafts of their work) and how to break down larger projects into smaller tasks that they work on consistently from week to week. Also, students often note how different workplace writing genres are from other writing they’ve had to do in college. Through our reading, writing, and discussion in the course, we talk about looking at models of unfamiliar genres, talking with co-workers and supervisors, and many other strategies to help them gain a better understanding of the expected writing processes, genres, language, and content they’ll need to write/edit effectively for the contexts, purposes, and audiences intended for each piece or project that they work on."
“My internship experience with Keene State’s Marketing & Communications Department most certainly helped me get to where I am today,” claimed Anthony Munoz ’14, now a multimedia specialist at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester. “It exposed me to skill sets and workflow habits that have been very helpful in the long run. The experience taught me to manage multiple projects, adapt to changes in workflow, collaborate, send professional e-mails – really helpful skills for an entry-level position. I recall discussing workflow and task management at the interview for my first job, and the internship certainly came up. It’s a nice gem on my resume, even today.
“The course itself helped make the most out of the experience. We were asked to reflect on what we were doing at different stages of the internship, which gave me space to think about what I was working on and align my goals accordingly. Dr. Tirabassi was always there to give helpful feedback and advice every step of the way. We also made a portfolio, which forced me to think about what my strongest work was – I would then use those pieces as samples when applying for jobs. I still have a few that I keep as writing samples.
“Overall, the internship gave me very valuable practical experience that proved to be an important stepping stone into the working world. After the internship ended, I was a lot more focused on school work and finishing as strong as I could. I made a point to get a lot more out of my last year of college, because I felt I had gotten so much out of the internship.”
Senior reporter for The Equinox Jacob Barrett also interned with KSC’s Marketing & Communications Dept. “The class gives students the opportunity to work with professionals to create real content in a variety of different ways,” he said. “I learned a lot about the many moving parts to a publication like the one I worked on. I can’t say enough about Dr. Tirabassi, either. She’s been so helpful and supportive to me as a student and writer. She shows a genuine interest in her students and knows what she’s talking about.”