Tag Archives: internship profile

Multiple People, One Voice

Emily Perez is a senior English major at Millersville University with a concentration in writing studies and a minor in theatre. She enjoys reading, writing, and anything pertaining to sports or outdoor activities. Read more about her recent summer internship below! 

From Left to Right: Sarah Crocker, Emily Perez, Gabrielle Resh, Karen Loftus, Tianna Smith, and Taylor Onkst

Walking into my internship the first day, I didn’t know what was going to be asked of me pertaining to the writing that my boss would want me to produce. Would she want me to write narrative pieces like the ones found on several different travel blogging websites or would she want me to conduct interviews? As a 20-year-old college student who has never traveled very far out of the United States, would I be able to deliver a writing style and voice that matched what a 50-year-old travel writer and expert was looking for? These were the questions that raced through my head when I sat down in front of her the first day of my internship.

After writing for my boss the first time, I found that we had different target audiences in mind which influenced the way I wrote and related to the audience through my tone and style. I had one idea of what the writing on her website should do, and she had a different one. Seeing her as my client, I realized that it didn’t matter if my voice was in it; for a company, the voice has to be unified even if it’s multiple people writing. Thus, I had to learn to be a writing chameleon. So, I learned to write as if I was a traveling expert, as if those that were already traveling were coming to me for fun and witty information. It was through this process that I learned how important it was to be able to adapt to a new writing style and voice.

Taking on the voice of my boss and her company taught me several important lessons throughout the process of my internship. First and foremost, I learned the importance of being a chameleon. In the professional writing industry, especially as a content writer, I would have to write for lots of different clients, each company having their own voice and presence. As a writer, I have to be able to adopt that voice easily and quickly to produce content that matches how that company sounds on a regular basis. This is important because when other people are viewing a company’s content, they can pick up on changes in the writing style which can, in some cases, create problems. For example, imagine each writing piece is a red apple. If one writing piece has a different feel to it, then it would be like a green apple in a line of red apples; it would stand out like sore thumb.

Another lesson learned from the process of taking on someone else’s writing style is that a client changing your writing or asking you to slightly change something is never personal and shouldn’t be taken that way. Again, the client simply wants a unified front for their content and asking for any changes is what they are trying to achieve. Hence, a writer should never take it personally, but should simply try to edit the writing to create the content that the client is looking for.

The last thing that I learned from this process, which goes along with the not taking change personally, is that as writers, we must be open to editing. Editing is a natural part of being a content writer or any type of writer. During the process, a piece can go through several edits and proofing rounds before a client approves it. So, never get upset when your writing is being edited to sound different. Again, this is so the client can achieve their voice and should be seen as a learning process and a chance to really embrace the new voice more fully.

In the end, I realized that through it all, being an English major helped me easily transition into a different type of writing style and voice. Taking tricks from my courses and learning the type of writing that different professors liked, allowed me to easily do that for my internship supervisor at Women’s Adventure Travels. After reading through my boss’s edits, I was able to find the little quirks and word usage that she tended to use in her writing that she was also looking for in the writing that I was producing for her. Overall, as writers and English majors, it is important for us to be able to transition our writing to match that of any company that we are writing for because their publication may be multiple writers, but it should be one voice.

– Emily Perez

(Title Image: John Simpson, Gabrielle Resh, Karen Loftus, Sarah Crocker, Tianna Smith, Taylor Onkst, Jacob Gould, and Emily Perez)


Internship Profile: Anthony Miller

Anthony Miller, a writing studies major with a minor in film, interned at Winding Way Books in Lancaster City. Read more below about Anthony’s experiences working at a bookstore, marketing a business on Facebook, and joining a community of book lovers. Looking for an internship of your own? Visit the ELCM website to learn more about internship opportunities.

Melody Williams and Anthony Miller

Over the course of the 2019 Spring Semester, I took advantage of a unique internship opportunity at Winding Way Books in Downtown Lancaster. Prior to applying for the internship, I’d been into Winding Way’s former location and made several purchases. I was impressed by the store’s wide range of literary classics, sci-fi and fantasy. However, it was among the extensive nonfiction selection that I made my most valuable finds, picking up one of the most relevant books to my education so far, A History of Narrative Film by David A. Cook. As an English major, the bookstore existed as the perfect site for intellectual exploration. Whether they were part of a chain or independently run, bookstores throughout my childhood and young adulthood have forged my reading habits, so I was interested in being behind the scenes creating a similar environment for other readers. Eventually I was connected more closely to Winding Way by a coworker of mine who was friends with the owner, Melody Williams. From there I contacted Melody by email and we scheduled our initial meeting.

Seeing as I was the first ever intern at Winding Way, Mel and I got together to discuss the general expectations and requirements of the internship. From this brainstorming session, I was designated to perform a handful of general tasks: to spread the word about Winding Way and expand its consumer base, sort and shelve books while keeping inventory, supply written content to the official Facebook page to pique customers’ interest in the inventory, and run the cash register and help out customers while Mel was running her endless list of errands for the bookstore.

The first of my obligations was trying to extend the reach of the store across Lancaster, which I attempted in a number of ways. Primarily, Mel had me walk across the city handing out her customized bookmarks, which display the Winding Way contact information and a small map directing people to the new location on Chestnut Street. I was initially nervous about this simple job because of the anxiety imparted by a stranger’s attempt to sell a product or idea. Eventually, however, my nervousness about confrontation subsided in the wake of a number of people’s genuine enthusiasm. Of course I heard more people saying they’d stop in than those that actually did, but every new customer that I recognized from one of those interactions (of which there were a good few) reinvigorated me for the next time I was out on the town with a stack of bookmarks.

The bookmarks were also useful for posting on community boards across the city. From House of Pizza to Farbo Co to coffee shops to burrito joints, I strolled around town, further familiarizing myself with Lancaster, and hoping to further familiarize Lancaster with Winding Way Books. Various small business owners were more than happy to accommodate our advertisements which was inspiring to witness. One employee at Farbo Co even helped clear their community store to accommodate for a bookmark. Admittedly, I was pleasantly surprised to experience such altruistic thinking across store owners and their employees, which seemed to boil down to a basic commitment to helping out other independent businesses.

Although it took me a little time to truly take the advertising/networking portion of the internship by the scruff of the neck, I ultimately overcame the reluctance to confront random people with my “message” about the bookstore’s worth to the community. It helped immensely that I truly believe in the bookstore’s goals as a business so I never had to force myself to mislead or manipulate like a stereotypically cynical salesperson. When I was talking to people about the adventures inherent to Mel’s shelves, I really meant it. Eventually, with my growing awareness of the bookstore’s contents and an easing anxiety concerning street chats, I was able to name specific books that I thought potential customers would be interested in. After talking with one passerby about films and screenplays, he eventually ended up reserving a shooting copy of the script of Firefly, a cult television show.

As someone pursuing a Bachelor’s in English with a concentration in Writing Studies, the written portion of the internship was the segment of my internship that most directly addressed my degree. Early in the internship Mel granted me access to the Winding Way Facebook page, where I was able to respond to customer requests and questions. Primarily though, I used the Notes page to post book reviews, which Mel coined “First Impressions”. Throughout the course of the semester I would select one of the books from an author that I hadn’t heard of before, read the first chapter or two, and write a page long review of the content of the book, trying to describe the distinct merits of the story and the way the story was written.

Depending on the author, I would emphasize different aspects of the work’s overall impact. Thomas Pynchon for instance, inherited a cult reputation due to long, zany phrases peppered with  pop culture and obscure vocabulary; therefore, I focused on his unique compositional style because that seemed to be the defining characteristic of his literature. Zora Neale Hurston on the other hand was more known for her contributions to African American literature, writing dialogue for her characters that felt directly recorded from her experiences; therefore I expressed her monumental influence on other black writers in their efforts to seize back the narrative of their people from racist whites. These First Impressions gave me an opportunity to advance my writing by forcing me to interact with new writing, consider its context and composition, and articulate it in a measured, accessible manner.

One of the best parts of this experience was feeling like part of a community. A bookstore community is diverse, consisting of lone drifters, couples hanging out, flocks of friends, and families out for the day. The variety of people within these categories is impossible to comprehensively explore. Just as any particular piece of writing eludes categorization, so does any person seeking one out. Despite the diversity characters stopping by Winding Way, they were all brought into the bookstore by the same thing that brought me into the English major in the first place: a love of getting lost in the written word. Because of this central similarity, I was able to connect with almost everybody. I’ve traded both short anecdotes and long detailed monologues about what I’ve read, what I love to read, and what I plan to read next. Although bookworms are stereotyped as introverted and shy, I’ve had many animated discussions with the people at Winding Way. Although I love my private headspace, bridging the gap between two minds is a fulfilling experience. There was no shortage of interesting bridges built over the course of this internship. One afternoon I was talking to an aspiring writer in the bookstore for about an hour as she explained her conversion to Buddhism, ultimately recommending a book from our spirituality section.

Everybody that I remember walking in were patient, kind and curious. Some came in knowing exactly what they wanted. Others were just interested in exploring the space for a moment or two. A bookstore is the only place I can think of where browsing and not buying is an activity in and of itself. To briefly dip your toes into various articulations of art, science and history is an experience offered by few other business models. I tried to take that opportunity whenever I had the chance.

Overall, my internship at Winding Way Books was an educational experience that made a prominent mark on me. Not only was I able to make intellectual explorations by engaging with a vast catalogue of art and knowledge, I was also able to explore socially by mingling with outsiders to the bookstore, and more enjoyably, insiders. In addition, my writing became stronger by virtue of my increased exposure to good writing and my efforts to explain its goodness through short, concise reviews. I would recommend this internship to any English student at Millersville who is looking to expand their literary palette while also increasing their familiarity with downtown Lancaster.

-Anthony Miller 

Internship Profile: Office of International Programs and Services

Leah Hoffman, a sophomore Spanish and writing studies major, completed an internship with Millersville’s Office of International Programs and Services. Read more about her experiences below! 

Leah Hoffman working at her internship.

I have had the opportunity to intern for Millersville’s Office of International Programs and Services (IPS), which has been a wonderful experience in joining together my academic interests. As a double major in Spanish and English, I was uniquely prepared for this internship:  I was able to bring writing styles and strategies honed throughout my Writing Studies concentration as well as cultural awareness and sensitivity developed through learning another language.

My language abilities gave me an empathy and appreciation for learning a new language. These characteristics enhanced my skills as an English major as I could use my heightened awareness of cultural nuances to cater specifically to my intended audience of students. Practices such as adding plenty of visuals and carefully choosing words have tailored my publications specifically to the International students.

The main project that I focused on for the duration of my internship was the weekly International Student Newsletter. This was a weekly update on office events as well as upcoming deadlines and requirements specific to international students studying in the United States. I was able to use theories of web writing and content strategy to boost interaction with the newsletter and make it more engaging to students, and therefore more useful to the office. We know that the more engagement students have with the newsletter, the more participation we see in our events, and we are therefore hoping to maximize student interaction with updates from our office.

This was an interesting audience to interact with because of their diverse backgrounds. The IPS has been working for a long time to keep pace with the ever-changing demographics that come not only with each progressing year of students, but also with the atmosphere surrounding the mix of cultures and language proficiencies. I found myself tasked with finding the most effective means for communicating with this group of students. My ultimate goal is to find a strategy that can be extrapolated to incoming students in the years to come, but overall I have learned that creativity and flexibility are the keys to continued engagement.

-Leah Hoffman

Internship Profile–Kaylee Herndon

Read about Kaylee Herndon’s Internship with the Reading Royals hockey team! For more information about the internship process, check out the MU Internships webpage. 

I am currently in the middle of spending the hockey season with the Reading Royals hockey team in Reading, PA. As one of their media interns for the season I am getting to use my Journalism and English experience in a career path that many people do not regularly consider when getting their degree.

Photo by Kaylee Herndon

Working in media relations for a sports team is extremely similar to working in a newsroom, except that you know what your writing will focus on each day that you go into work. There are daily deadlines, social media updates, live tweeting, and other aspects that go into promoting a team and covering their games.

I have been using social media, Photoshop, and Adobe Premiere in addition to traditional writing at this internship (see the above graphic made using Photoshop). Premiere is something that I thought I would never need to learn, but it turns out the journalism professors are right: you need to be able to take and edit your own photos and videos to make it out there.

Another skill I was surprised that I needed to use is my phone photography. It is the easiest and fastest way to get photos up on social media, i.e. an Instagram story. I found out that there are settings within the camera that makes capturing quick movement, like skaters or pucks, easier, but it is still a skill to be learned.

The most interesting concept of the job for me is that I went from being an athlete to covering the athlete. Having been on the opposite side of the job definitely provides me a different perspective. It creates some barriers when it comes to what I expect to be true and what reality is. This includes willingness of participation of athletes in team promotion activities and fan engagement and the accommodation (or non-accommodation) of the coaching staff. It also has helped me create some unique ideas, such as a player blog where a player gets to discuss their experiences in the local area and on the team. It was a large adjustment in terms of expectations when I found out that the media for a team does not regularly interact with its player-members of the team that they promote. While from the athletic view it makes sense, at least while in college, it would produce more interesting and engaging content if players were more actively involved with the media being put out about them.

Overall, this internship has been an incredible experience so far in terms of preparing me for my future career whether I go into sports or traditional journalism. Without the real-life experience, I feel like I would be under prepared for the fast-paced world of sports journalism.

-Kaylee Herndon

Student Profile: Helen Reinbrecht

Helen Reinbrecht interned at CASA Berks for her internship. Read more about her experiences below! 

As a student working towards a Bachelor’s in English I was required to complete a 120 hour internship. I worked for CASA Berks as a communications and social media intern. CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates and is a national nonprofit that trains volunteers to advocate for children in the foster care system. After starting my internship, I quickly learned that as much as my classes at Millersville University taught me how to write and how to research topics to write about, writing as a profession or as an organization demands more in-depth involvement than any of my classes asked of me.

In order to succeed in my internship, I used my skills as a writer and a researcher. I learned about grants, marketing, fundraising, and the general organization of a nonprofit. I also had to make an effort to learn about services and fields not related to English. I needed to write about children in the foster system and involved with the legal system and the issues these children and families face. I needed to write about these situations so that my readers and social media followers would be able to understand the problems facing these people, what they could do to help, and how CASA Berks was already helping.

To start, I researched statistics on the foster care system. I went to court to learn about dependency hearings, which are proceedings that decide whether children will go into foster care system or, if the children are already in foster care, be returned to their parents. I learned that most parents present at a dependency hearing are not “bad parents” but just about all of them were dealing with mental health and/or a substance abuse problem. So, I researched substance abuse in Pennsylvania to learn more about what is being done and how substance abuse affects children, their parents, and their grandparents.

This is just one example of how my research and knowledge on the subject developed past the original broad issue of foster care. Funding for children and children’s programs is another example of a knowledge rabbit hole or the social issues that can arise after children age out of foster care and what impact that has on the community. In short, no subject is an iceberg. In my experience, having an English degree means continually learning about new subjects and critically thinking about the issues that stem from the original topic. By being open to learning about new subjects, I was more successful at writing and communicating the needs of those I was writing about. With an understanding of who and what I was writing about I could make my points stronger and write more confidently about what needs to be done. Also, on a more superficial note, learning about these new subjects made the job more fun. It would have been easier to simply add in the statistics provided to me, but taking the time to actually go out and learn about a subject and talk to people or observe people who have a vested interest in what I was writing about added depth to the topic.

On another note, much of my internship revolved around posting on social media. This means that I needed to find pictures or videos to post, especially for Instagram. As CASA Berks is a relatively new nonprofit there were not a lot of pictures and even fewer videos for me to use. I had to find other sources of media. I mainly used the National CASA Association’s pictures and videos, but I also used the website called Creative Commons, which I heard about in an Education class. This website allows users to search for pictures and videos that are free from copyright and. therefore, most people are able to use them freely. As an English major I learned more about written plagiarism instead of copyright laws, but in a professional position I had to make sure that all of my posts and work follow the laws.

Another subject that I did not think of much in my English classes but made an appearance in my internship is statistics. While misrepresenting statistics usually has less dire causes than misrepresenting who owns a picture or who wrote a quote, to be a legitimate source of information I have found that it is good to understand at least a little bit of statistics to understand potential biases and how statistics can be misleading. Alternatively, and I was not at a level to do this, some marketing campaigns may use the statistics that best represent the product instead of the statistics that are the most clear.

This is part of why I think English and writing is so interesting as a field to be in. When one is writing there is almost always a bias. The writer is trying to convey an idea as they see it. There are some exceptions, journalism being the most commonly perceived bias-free writing, but even in journalism one can find bias in the word choices used or the pictures that go with the article. I am not the only intern to work for a CASA organization. There are interns all over the country who have the same goals and who are working with the same groups of people that I did.  We all learned, in a general sense, the same type of information, but we all made different decisions of what to post or what to include in a newsletter based on our biases of what we think is important and what we think our audience will find important.

By taking a job that requires you to write, you have an obligation to continue learning about all matter of subjects, but you can also have the freedom to express your opinions on these subjects and educate other people. As a source of information, whether the medium is a novel, an advertisement, a news article, a blog, or a social media post, you can influence people. I did not truly realize this until I was in a situation where I did feel that I could make a difference in children’s lives. You have a power, use it wisely!

Helen Reinbrecht