…titles aren’t my forte.
When I began my internship as the Staff Writer and Social Media Coordinator for UTC’s English Department, I was admittedly anxious. I had never been in an environment where my writing would be publicly visible, at least not in the way that it is writing for Connections, and I was terrified about what people would think about it. Would it be good enough? Was I in my head too much? I’m glad to say that, yes, I was in my head far too much.
This experience has been enriching in many ways, but the most helpful thing about it has been the reassurance that there is something for me to do once I graduate. I know we’ve all heard countless jokes and teases about what English majors do after graduation, but social media management and blog posting aren’t just entertainment and hobbies anymore. Over the course of this internship, I feel that I’ve gained insight into what it means to manage an online community and write for a public audience—insight that I couldn’t have gained through classes alone.
When it came to running the social media accounts for a university department, what immediately came to mind was balancing being professional with being approachable. I knew that being a stuffy account that only announced campus events wasn’t the way that I wanted to do things. There’s no reason that a university department’s social media can’t be fun and enjoyable.
If you’ve followed our Twitter or Facebook accounts over the course of this semester, you might have seen some of the sillier posts that I made, including a few memes. My philosophy on running a successful organizational social media account is to treat it as if it were a person; being human is the most important key that I discovered to getting people to interact with the Department. If you just make an effort to be human, people will be far more likely to reciprocate and interact.
Of course, social media are only half the story. I have also been responsible for writing feature articles for this, the English Department’s Connections blog, and those stories were some of the most fun things to do. Again, until this internship, I had no experience writing in a forum that was as public as this. I had done countless assignments for English classes, but actually writing something that was going to be published and read by students, faculty, and community members was completely new territory for me.
Savannah May, a senior English student who will graduate in at the end of this semester, was kind enough to answer some questions that I had about Dr. Jenn Stewart’s Senior Seminar class, and so she became the subject of my first interview. I also had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Sarah Einstein, a Creative Writing professor in the English Department, about a new book on which she is working, which is concerned with the fall of Nazism in Austria post-WWII, the discovery during the Cold War of how out-of-the-loop the Austrian public was, and the current sociopolitical climate.
Both of these interview experiences gave me opportunities to discover new skills outside of writing. Dr. Stewart very graciously let me photograph a session of her class so that I would have photos to use in the article. And because I interviewed Dr. Einstein in-person, I recorded our interview and uploaded the audio onto a SoundCloud page that I created for the Department’s use.
I am very grateful for the opportunity to be the Staff Writing and Social Media Coordinator for this semester. It allowed me to hone writing skills that I already had, and I was also able to develop new skills that I can use in the future. I really think that, of the three Capstone options for English majors, the Internship class is the most useful for students to learn real-world skills and gain work experience. I’d like to wish the next intern the best of luck!