Written by Mandy Flickinger
Through studying English at Millersville University, English majors learn about the world, its history, and the hopes and dreams of all kinds of people through literature. Most importantly, studying English encompasses learning how to become a writer through reading the works of other writers. Since interning with the Dauphin County Library System, I have experienced becoming a writer of my own.
As you might expect from an English major, I have loved libraries since childhood, so interning with the Dauphin County Library System, or “The Library,” as they are known by the community, was a dream come true. As their Online Content Intern, I am responsible for posting to their social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work to get these posts scheduled and on social media, including coordinating with the marketing team, finding important internal and external events, searching for relevant photos, and updating their social media calendar. Most importantly, I spend much of my time maintaining The Library’s brand by writing in their voice, as well as representing them accurately in the photos and language I use. While I’ve learned a lot from the day-to-day routine of creating content and posting it online, my experience at my internship has a basis in the things I’ve learned while pursuing my English degree and minor in Strategic Public Relations.
Both my major and minor have stressed the importance of writing for your target audience, and subsequently changing your tone, style, and voice to fit those needs. Through taking courses like The Craft of Writing with Dr. Mando, I was forced to push the limits of my writing. Not only did I have to write about topics I was unfamiliar with and had little interest in, but I also had to write in a style, tone, and voice I had never used before. While at the time these new forms of my writing felt uncomfortable to produce, that experience has served me well in taking on the voice of The Library.
Despite my English degree supporting me through altering my writing style for my internship, writing for social media establishes a whole new set of challenges. Creating posts that are meaningful and interesting to your target audience is not an easy feat on social media, especially if you only have 280 characters to do so. Content for social media must be concise, informative, and punchy in a way that other forms of writing do not. You have to find a way to not only get your audience to care about what you’re posting, but to also interact with it, even when they’re bombarded by hundreds of posts and notifications daily.
While I’m still in the process of truly discovering how to do this in the endlessly changing space that is social media, studying public relations in conjunction with English has broadened my knowledge and understanding of writing in every format, style, and voice. Like my courses at Millersville, interning with the Dauphin County Library System has given me a chance to experience a new kind of writing in a different format and voice than I normally use. While my English degree has prepared me for a social media internship, it also prepares students for many other ventures. Writing is useful in almost any and every profession, so it is imperative to push past your discomfort and write about things you may never have before. Take courses at Millersville that focus on a subsect of writing that you wouldn’t try on your own. Through these things, you can broaden your skills as a writer. You never know what opportunities may open up to you when you learn how to become an adaptable and evolving writer.