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Why are internships a good idea? Lessons from the Writing Department Internship Night

By Julianna Schrier

Every fall semester, the GVSU Writing Department and the Organization for Professional Writers host an internship info session. The main goal is to demystify the process of finding an internship. Here are some of the lessons of the latest edition from October 16.

Writing majors have versatile skills

Professor and internship coordinator Dauvan Mulally emphasized the variety of internships available to writing students. From working in nonprofit to editing and publishing, from technical writing to design-based positions, writing students fit a wide array of positions. When looking for internships, do not limit yourself to those listed under “writing.” Many of the classes offered in the major provide you with the skills and knowledge for internships listed under Communications, Ad/PR, and even Marketing. Read the descriptions and the skills required so that you can see how a position lines up with what you know and can do.

Internships are rewarding experiences

Writing major Rachel Kornoelje discussed her experience interning for the GVSU Development office where she wrote appeals, created web copy, and assisted in project management. “It’s [basically] an entry-level job in college,” Rachel said. Writing major Chelsea Best had a similar experience as a Marketing and Design intern with the university’s Human Resources Benefits and Wellness Department. In this position, she created a wide variety of marketing materials and earned a reputation of excellence. In April 2019, Chelsea was recognized as the Intern of the Year by the GVSU Career Center.

Both Rachel and Chelsea noted how their internship allowed them to work in a professional communication environment, which is different than the classroom in many ways. This point was reiterated by Writing alum Tessa Dane-Henry. Tessa, who works today as a technical writer for a local company, emphasized how internships are ways to grow and gain confidence, even when the experience does not totally correspond to what you expected. Internships help to find your way and gain a better understanding of the realities of writing outside of the classroom.

Though writing courses cover a wide variety of skills and knowledge, there are certain things you simply can’t get from a classroom. Having a professional-environment experience before you graduate is essential for entering the workforce. It allows you to make connections and discover what you like and do not like by applying your skills beyond the curriculum.

Finding an internship is a team effort

One of the most challenging aspects is to start searching. The process can seem daunting, especially if you have no professional experience. The best way to avoid putting off your internship (and lower your anxiety!) is to visit the internship coordinator. The sooner you talk to Professor Mulally, the sooner you can strategize and learn how to find an internship that makes sense for you. 

Besides meeting with Professor Mulally, consult also the Writing Department’s website, which provides a lot of information to help you get started. Or, talk to your professors! If you are involved in the department and your professors are familiar with your work, they can be good references too. Doing an internship has more benefits than simply fulfilling a graduation requirement. It is a way to gain experience and confidence. It is also a first step in finding the rest of your career and can open you up to opportunities you may have otherwise never known existed. The main lesson of all of this? Start looking today and trust yourself.

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