From Recruit to Veteran
When I first started the Writing Arts department internship, I had no experience in the practical application of my skills at all. My first semester in the program was like being tossed into a pool and being told I had to either learn to swim or drown. It was daunting, but I pushed through it, and after many long nights working in the fields of publication research, web development, and article writing, I felt accomplished, and ready to undertake a second semester of this internship. I figured that since I already knew most of the duties expected of the interns, this second semester would be a walk in the park. And while that initial preparation did help, I soon realized that a second semester in the program would mean undertaking far more responsibility than what had previously been expected of me.
One of the first challenges I was faced with was the increased workload and expected level of expertise. Whereas last semester I could use my lack of experience as a scapegoat for sloppy jobs and slow production, this semester I had no excuses left. With a few brand-new interns joining the returning members and requiring training, it became clear that the skills I acquired last semester would be amplified to a much higher degree than before. Sure, I had been trained in things like Weebly, Cascade, and other web design programs, but I wouldn’t have considered myself an expert. But when expertise is expected of you, you have to rise to the occasion and develop your skills beyond the bare minimum, with the intention of eventually passing on those skills to your fellow workers.
Another major aspect of my internship this semester was the independent work and creative freedom that I could enjoy as a more seasoned member of the department’s internship program. One of the main projects I undertook completely independently was the development of a promotional video for Rowan’s “Self-Publishing” class, a new course coming to the Fall 2019 Writing Arts catalog. The course was introduced by Jason Luther, so I decided to interview him about a variety of topics related to self-publishing and his experience with the field, as well as his expectations for the class. Once the primary interview footage was shot, I edited it, added B-roll footage, workshopped it into a small collection of videos about individual topics, and finally published it onto Rowan’s official YouTube channel. The level of freedom and responsibility given to me to complete the project was something that I had never really experienced before, especially in terms of developing material for official university usage, so it felt great to work through the whole thing and meet those deadlines to create something I could actually be proud of.
More Freedom, More Problems
However, with such a high level of freedom and expectation of responsibility, I did experience a few issues that were not present during my previous semester in the internship program. One of the major barriers that I had to break through as a returning intern was the expectation of an increased work output that matched my level of experience. It’s fairly easy to fall into a production routine when creating long-term content, and once you fall into that rut, it can be extremely difficult to recognize the potential of your own abilities. Slow production routines are comfortable, and they seem to work, but they don’t give you the bigger picture and they certainly don’t allow for any level of personal growth to occur. It was only by recognizing my own abilities and actively working to push myself as hard as I possibly could that I began to realize how much more effective I could be in both my personal and professional life as a creator. Writing and developing content can be hard but pushing through that difficulty to produce something, whether you feel like it or not, is what professionalism in the creative field is truly about.
Asking for Help
Another task I was charged with this semester was the creation of the Writer's Insider Spring 2019 issue, a magazine run through Rowan's Writing Arts department that contains various articles written by interns on the subjects of writing, academia, and college events. The magazine was tradition, and one that left fairly large shoes to fill, as the last editor to take the reins over its production was Rachel Barton: one of the most talented writers and students in the department's history. As someone with only a moderate amount of experience in the fields of magazine design and layout, it felt almost impossible to live up to the standards that had been set up before me. However, after a few failed attempts and a pep talk from Rachel, I finally found the strength to put together a product I was genuinely pleased with. It borrowed aspects of the previous designs while simultaneously containing its own layout that felt compact, organized, and easy to read. It was one of the most surprising moments of the semester for me, as I had started the production utterly intimidated by the prospect of creating this magazine from scratch. Luckily, I had Rachel at my back, giving me advice and encouraging me to ask more questions when needed. It wasn't until after the first draft was finished that I realized how my own pride and desire to be "unique" had been holding me back during those initial failed attempts. I wanted to make something new and individual to myself, when in reality, the Writer's Insider is a magazine built on collaboration, and learning to work as a team with those that came before me was an essential part of being able to progress in my own pursuits of success.
Moving on from Rowan
As I now set my sights on graduation, I can safely say that the Writing Arts Internship was a tremendous help for me in terms of understanding the work I will be doing in the future, as well as obtaining experience in that work so that I may present myself as a much more effective producer of content in the professional fields of writing. The experience of going from a new recruit to a seasoned veteran within the same group of writers was a fantastic feeling of growth and personal development, and I’m incredibly eager to using these skills in every facet of my life going forward. Writing has been and will always be the ultimate passion of my life, so being able to share and experience it within a community as encouraging as this has been an amazing adventure and I look forward to replicating it soon within my own professional life for many years to come.