Off-Campus Internships Give PW Students an Edge

By Victoria Slater, CAS communications intern

The Miami University Professional Writing Program encourages its students to engage in experiences that will strengthen and enrich their rhetorical knowledge and writing skills outside the classroom. Throughout their time at Miami in the PW program, students LaQues Harrison, Cynthia Marcinek and Allie Davis participated in several off-campus internships that helped give them an edge in a highly competitive job market.           

Director of the Professional Writing program Gabriele Bechtel said off-campus internships are an important extracurricular experience students should pursue.

“Internships can provide valuable professional experience which then can become part of resumes or other job search documents,” she said. “In that sense, they can build a port of entry to the job market.”

Bechtel added that internships help create a real-life component to an academic curriculum, which can help students to decide if they want to pursue a job right after college, or continue with their education at a graduate level.

These reasons led senior Sociology and Professional Writing double major LaQues Harrison to her legal writing internships in Cleveland. There, she worked as an assistant at the Case Western Reserve and at a private law firm, helping draft memorandums and motions with skills she learned from the PW legal writing course. She said these internships taught her the value of a job well done. 

"The most important thing I learned was to never submit draft one,” Harrison said. “Even if they ask you to submit a sample and that it can be revised, always submit your best and thorough work.”

Like Harrison, senior Professional Writing major Cynthia Marcinek has participated in multiple internships, but hers have been focused in digital marketing. This past summer, she worked for the Cincinnati Art Museum as well as a Cincinnati social media agency, 2060 Digital. At both internships, she did promotional work with the use of social media and digital advertising. She said her favorite experience was at 2060 Digital.           

“At 2060 I really learned about working with a variety of clients and understanding what each one is looking for as far as who their audience is and how they hope to project their company voice,” Marcinek said.

Junior Professional Writing major Allie Davis did similar promotional work at the non-profit Hennepin Theater Trust in Minneapolis this past summer. There, she helped produce press releases for the various Broadway shows and concerts the theater puts on. She said working for a popular non-profit company was the most rewarding aspect.

“My favorite part of my internship experience was getting to write press releases for a prominent company in Minneapolis,” she said. “I felt like an important asset to the company because I was helping promote it.”

All three students said the PW program at Miami prepared them thoroughly for their work at their internships.

“The thing I love about PW is it covers a variety of different topics that you can bring to the work force,” Marcinek said. “I’ve learned how to write essays, but I’ve also learned how to write concisely. I’ve also learned skills beyond the paper. I’ve learned Photoshop and coding in my classes, which are very valuable skills to employers.”

Harrison and Davies agreed that the exposure to multiple areas of writing the PW curriculum offers also set them apart from others in their field.

For students who are beginning to search for internships, Harrison suggested establishing solid, reliable connections.

“My advice for students is to take advantage of those in the field you desire to be in,” she said. “Call them and ask to shadow, ask for their advice and keep in contact. This could possibly lead to an internship or a job, but more importantly a career or life-long connection and mentor.”

Davis echoed her sentiments, emphasizing the importance of a strong cover letter. 

“Use your personal connection and write a good cover letter,” she said. “A cover letter gives the employer a sense of who you are and why you would be a good candidate, so make sure you spice it up with experiences and connections.” 

Marcinek encouraged students to take a risk, and put themselves out there.

“My advice for students is to not be afraid to apply for anything and everything,” she said. “I believe that interview experience is good experience. Even if you’re applying for a job that is not as exciting to you as you would think you’re getting your name out there and expanding your reach in the job field.”