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Writing Internships

Writing Internship

Course Description & Requirements

Prof. Sara Cutting, Director | scutting@kent.edu | (330) 672-1745

Chris McCracken, Graduate Assistant | cmccrac4@kent.edu


What are the goals for the writing internship?

The Writing Internship Program is a cooperative endeavor between students, the community, and the Department of English. As such it has a number of inter-related goals. Your own goals might include expanding your interests and experiences, finding out if you are suited for work as a professional or technical writer, and gaining valuable work experience before you graduate. For the community groups or businesses that use interns, the goals of the program may be to maintain good relationships with the university, to introduce "fresh blood" and new ideas into their organizations, and (frankly) to acquire smart, energetic, able workers without cost.

For the Department, the goals of the program include, of course, continued good relations with the community and successful placement of students into jobs after graduation. However, the most important goal of the program from our point of view is to enrich your education as a careful reader and competent writer, and to complement your classroom learning as a student of language and discourse. For instance, your work as a writing intern should involve a great deal of writing, and this writing may differ in important ways from the writing you do in most courses. Your "audience" will consist not of a teacher (whom you know) or even your contemporaries (such as your classmates). Your notions of readers will enlarge to include multiple audiences--your immediate supervisor and other members of the organization, as well as some segment of "the public" whose interests you must meet and whose backgrounds, knowledge, and values may be quite different from your own. This kind of writing, in a rich and immediate rhetorical situation, will teach you a great deal about writing and about the functions and uses of discourse. To this end, the requirements of the course include both job-related and academic responsibilities.

What are my site work requirements & expectations?

  • Approximately 10 hours per week (assuming 3 credits) at the firm or office as a regular part of the writing staff
  • Duties will vary, but expect to be involved in carrying a specific writing project(s) through all stages of development, from research (including interviewing) and organizing, to drafting and revising.
  • Writing may be your own work, but you may be asked to work on collaborative projects, or to edit others' writing
  • You'll work closely with your site supervisor(s) who will remain in regular contact with me
  • About 60% of final grade is based on the frank evaluation by your supervisor(s) at the end of the semester

How can I be successful?

Experience has shown that those interns who generate ideas, show initiative, and seek additional responsibilities will profit more from their internships than students who simply wait to be told what to do. While a great deal of your work will eventually be substantive writing and editing, you may be asked to perform assignments you regard as routine or "boring," especially at first. It's best to cheerfully accept such assignments. Evidence of an intern's ability to handle routine tasks quickly and accurately is often necessary before the intern is given more assignments. If you find, however, that you are doing routine clerical work or proofing for an extended period of time, you should contact me. Finally, don't be afraid to ask questions. You're there to learn.

Course Task
Task Description
%

Approximately 10 hrs/week of on-site work & on-time, proper submission of copies of on-site work

Complete the contracted number of hours and perform work to the satisfaction of your supervisor at the site (see above).Submit copies of your on-site work to me the first day of every month.

60%

Internship Meetings

4-5 a semester. All interns meet to troubleshoot problems & discuss specific experiences at the job site. We'll reflect as a group on the work you're doing, the kinds of things you're learning about writing & about writers & readers, and the application of your experience to your broader training as a student of English. These meetings will give you a chance to meet the other interns and to share and critique each other's writing. The meetings will be arranged at a mutually convenient time. It is important that you attend these meetings as they serve as a forum for discussion and problem-solving. If you are unable to attend a meeting, please send Prof. Cutting a notification e-mail.

Note: For the final meeting of the semester, you must bring an updated copy of your resume and cover letter. Working with these documents, we will discuss ways to highlight the experiences & skills gained from your internship to better position yourself as a candidate for whatever job you seek post-graduation.

5%

Reflective Journal

At least two pages a week should be recorded in the journal. Hard copies should be placed in Prof. Cutting's Satterfield Hall room 113 mailbox on the first and fifteenth of every month. You will use the journal to record your activities, your impressions, your problems, and to reflect on what you are learning about text production, about writers and readers in a particular situation, about working collaboratively with others, etc. The impressions and reflections you record in your journal will furnish topics for discussion at our periodic meetings, as well as give you a record of your work and learning which will be helpful in writing your final report.

15%

Final Report


(20%)

Final Assignments

This last assignment of your internship is due at our last meeting. It has two parts:

PART 1

You should have an updated resume and a sample cover letter to a prospective employer. One paragraph in the letter should contain two or three concise sentences highlighting your internship experience and why it makes you an especially viable job candidate. If you can find an actual job posting in your field, this would be helpful in giving you an actual target audience and also get you familiar with job-search sites, both in print and online.

PART 2

You are to write a 5-7 page report as a final reflection on your internship experience. Of course, you will want to refer to your journals, but consider them as field notes to add depth to the content, not as the sole focus. This report should be formal in tone and should integrate your responses to the following:

1.What are the most valuable lessons you will take from this experience?

2. What have you learned about being a part of an organization, department, or company that has a real-world purpose?

3.What have you learned about workplace writing as it differs from academic writing?

This report should be directed to me as the primary audience, but also consider that parts of your observations and reflections might be integrated into a newsletter or marketing piece for the program; therefore, consider this secondary audience as you are writing this document. Since workplace writing usually "looks" different from academic writing, make use of headings, enumeration, and bullets as necessary and appropriate. Present this document using manuscript format.* This final report should demonstrate the hallmarks of all effective business writing: accuracy, clarity, empathy, and conciseness.

*Internal or external reports that exceed three pages are usually written in manuscript format. There needs to be a title page containing four pieces of information: the name of the primary audience, the title of the report, your name as the sender, and the date. Then there should be a short cover memorandum directed to me as the primary audience (one paragraph should do it), and then the actual report. The first page of the report should bear the same title as is on the cover page.

Information taken from Contemporary Business Report Writing, 4th ed. By Shirley Kuiper, South-Western. 2009.

A Final Note: Please do not feel that you have to handle frustrations or problems, of whatever nature, on your own. I am available for office or phone conferences with only a little advance notice. I want this to be a valuable, rewarding, and enjoyable experience for you. I only ask, if at all possible, that you discuss any problems with your supervisor at the site as well.