Writing Internship Program Helps Honors Student Combine Creative and Professional Writing Interests

Olivia Farina Completes the Writing Internship Program at the Wick Poetry Center

Olivia Farina wearing a mask in her apartment.
Olivia Farina is a third-year honors student majoring in English with a professional writing concentration and a creative writing minor. Originally from Painesville, Ohio, Olivia has had many successes at Kent State, from tutoring in the Writing Commons to winning awards from the Department of English. Olivia’s latest achievement, interning at the Wick Poetry Center through the English department’s Writing Internship Program (WIP), combines her passion for professional and creative writing. Coordinated by Dr. Uma Krishnan, the WIP is a 3-credit hour course that finds relevant internship sites for students. Throughout the semester, Dr. Krishnan hosts bi-weekly course meetings with internship students, discussing internship progress and topics like resume formatting. At the end of the semester, students compile a professional portfolio of their writing internship work.

Olivia first heard about the WIP at Destination Kent State in her freshman year. Later, when she took a professional writing course with Dr. Krishnan, Olivia learned more about the program. After completing a junior colloquium through the Honors College that involved an internship with the Wick Poetry Center, Olivia enrolled in Dr. Krishnan’s WIP in the spring of 2021. She was happy to learn that she could intern again at the Wick Poetry Center through Dr. Krishnan’s program, and over the past semester, Olivia has been working with her site supervisor, Professor Charles Malone, on a number of writing projects.

One of Olivia’s earlier projects involved the Wick Poetry Center’s partnership with the Cuyahoga Valley National Parks (CVNP). Among other projects with CVNP, Olivia helped with the ongoing development of the CVNP’s Poetic Inventory. Still in progress, the Poetic Inventory will be an interactive map for CVNP visitors. Visitors will be able to select a certain species on the map, which will open a poem about that species, bringing more awareness to local species. Olivia herself was able to write one of the poems for the inventory. She even co-hosted a virtual poetry workshop with the CVNP, writing her own lesson plan using a poem about the American Goldfinch, one of the species in the Poetic Inventory.

Apart from the CVNP, Olivia has also been helping the Wick team as they partner with the Poetry Coalition. Each March for the past five years, member organizations of the Poetry Coalition host programs across the country focused on a socially relevant theme. Past themes included Poetry & Migration, Poetry & Protest, and Poetry & the Body. This year, the theme is Poetry & Environmental Justice. As one of the founding members of the coalition, the Wick Poetry Center decided to focus their virtual programming this year on how the center has been promoting environmental justice for years. As such, Olivia has been writing regular social media campaigns that showcase Wick’s long-standing commitment to environmental justice. These experiences, both with the CVNP and the Poetry Coalition, are the type of hands-on work that Olivia values in the WIP. Through one’s internship site, Olivia says the WIP will “help you build your resume and gain professional experience.”

Though Olivia has thoroughly enjoyed her time at the Wick Poetry Center, she recalls how the internship has challenged her. Specifically, Olivia was nervous when her supervisor asked her to co-host the CVNP poetry workshop. “I have generalized anxiety,” Olivia says, “So the thought of leading this workshop was scary. I thought I would have to run the show. But I learned that’s not what hosting a workshop means. You’re just facilitating an environment for people to work, learn, and be authentic.” After co-leading the CVNP workshop, Olivia is much more confident in her abilities. She explains, “Now I feel like I could host a workshop of 100 people.” Another difficulty Olivia encountered was the remote format of her internship. Typically, Olivia says, she would work at the May Prentice House, where the Wick Poetry Center is located. Because of the pandemic, however, Olivia completed her internship remotely. She says this distanced environment was difficult because “Wick is a big family of people who are passionate about what they do and who they serve. Even though everyone communicates well virtually, I miss being at the house. It’s still a feeling of family, but I miss the physical interaction.”

Despite these difficult moments, Olivia has successfully completed her semester as a writing intern. She notes that, while her classes help her practice professional writing, the Writing Internship Program has given her valuable, real-world experiences. From writing a lesson plan for the CVNP workshop to submitting a proposal to Literary Cleveland, Olivia now has hands-on experience in the writing field. She adds, “I feel like an overall better writer, researcher, and professional worker.” Indeed, Olivia’s career goal is to work in the editing and publishing field, and her experience with the Wick Poetry Center—which publishes local poets—is excellent preparation for her career. As an aspiring writer, Olivia’s creative work with the poetry center will also help her become a stronger candidate for publication. Even if her career goals change, Olivia feels that her writing internship has prepared her for any job. She explains, “With an English major, I often hear, ‘What will you do with that?’ After this experience, I say, ‘What can I not do?’ because English majors don’t put all their eggs in one basket; we are well rounded with course work and internships, and I know I have the skills to work anywhere.”

Olivia has found the WIP so helpful that she recommends her fellow honors students consider the program as well. She acknowledges how daunting a professional writing internship might seem, recalling how worried she was initially about balancing the writing internship with her other courses. Despite these initial reservations, Olivia is thankful that she enrolled in the WIP, saying, “I couldn’t replace the experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve worked with.”

Olivia is grateful to her site supervisor, Charles Malone, and all the other staff, interns, and graduate students at the Wick Poetry Center. She is excited to continue gaining professional opportunities as she enters her senior year.

For more information about the Writing Internship Program, please contact Dr. Uma Krishnan.


PHOTO CAPTION 1: Olivia Farina standing outside in downtown Medina, Ohio.

PHOTO CAPTION 2: Olivia wearing a mask in her apartment.

MEDIA CONTACT: Stephanie Moskal, smoskal@kent.edu, 330-672-2312

POSTED: Wednesday, April 28, 2021 12:36 PM
UPDATED: Sunday, March 03, 2024 02:08 AM
Olivia Wachtel, Honors College Writing Intern