Featured Article: Professional Writing Minor Internship Spotlights
By Kimphuong Tran
Internships can provide many advantages to finding jobs after college such as demonstrating to employers that a candidate has the skills and experience for the position they applied for. According to a 2021 Association of American Colleges and Universities report, 49% of employers report that they are "much more likely" to hire a candidate that has an internship or apprenticeship during college (p. 7). However, only 60% of UC Davis students report that they are completing or have completed an internship during their time in college. The gap between the number of students participating in internships and the experience employers are looking for, speaks to the importance of integrating internship programs into undergraduate education requirements.
What is the Professional Writing minor?
At UC Davis, the Professional Writing Program has done just that. The Professional Writing minor, established in 2009, is one of the few minors that includes an internship requirement. The internship requirement provides students an opportunity to explore, develop and practice writing in a variety of fields. There are many beneficial outcomes of an internship such as receiving valuable mentoring from a supervisor and creating a professional writing portfolio that can be used for applying to jobs, internships and graduate programs. To complete the minor, students must take 16 units of writing courses from the University Writing Program and 4 units or 120 hours of professional writing internship work, which they can complete in one quarter or split into two or more quarters.
There are a wide range of internships that students can participate in. As of 2022, the Professional Writing minor program has worked with over 200 sites and supervisors. Some examples of fields previous interns have worked in include digital communications, journalism, law and politics, marketing and public relations, finance and science and technical communication.
Examples of internships
Communications Intern at Opening Doors, Inc.
Music Production Intern at Warner Brothers entertainment company
Social Media Coordinator at UC Davis Disability Center
Writing Intern at Morning Sign out biomedical publication
Editor at The California Aggie newspaper
Staff Writer at Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc.
Law and Politics
Office Intern at Temmerman Law Office
Legal Intern at Schertler and Onorato LLP
Court Watch Intern at The Davis Vanguard
Marketing and Public Relations
Cultural Orientation Intern at IRC Sacramento
Digital Advertising Intern at UC Davis Health System
Communications Intern at Yolo County Supervisor's Office
Student Intern at Amplo Creative, LLC.
Office Intern at Vavrinek, Trine, Day & Co., LLP.
Office Intern at Deloitte & Touche, LLP.
Science and Technical Communication
Technical Writing Intern at NASA (Information Technology and Communications Division)
Writing Coding Research Assistant at Social Attention Virtual Reality Laboratory
Grant Writing Intern at Vietnamese Cancer Awareness Research and Education Society
How does the Professional Writing minor internship program align with campus initiatives?
The Professional Writing minor program is also fulfilling the goals set by Aggie Launch, a new initiative aimed to prepare students for careers and opportunities after graduation. One of the goals of Aggie Launch is to create more experiential learning opportunities. An example of an experiential learning opportunity is The Quarter at Aggie Square, which combines "classes, internships and community engagement", to create an experience where students can engage with topics they are interested in or related to their majors or minors. Another example is the #CaliforniansForAll College Corps program, where students can "earn $10,000 for completing community service". By participating in this program, students are able to gain experience, build professional relationships and develop financial literacy from the program's workshops.
Additionally, the Aggie Launch initiative wants to encourage students to engage more with the Internship and Career Center, attend career fairs, and utilize resources that can prepare them for work after college. In a recent study, Strada Education Foundation found that "workers initially underemployed are five times more likely to remain so after five years than those who were not underemployed 10 years after their first job". By creating this initiative, Aggie Launch is trying to correct this and help students find jobs in their career fields after graduation. So too is the College of Letters and Science, which has created a new initiative called Beyond the Classroom for students to participate in experiential learning opportunities such as internships. The Professional Writing minor is fulfilling the goals set forward by Aggie Launch and Beyond the Classroom with the internship requirement by giving students a chance to build experience and explore careers within their field.
Having these experiences can help students figure out the careers they want to pursue and provide valuable experience for future careers. Proof of this can be found in the professional writing alumni spotlights, where UC Davis professional writing minor alumni describe how their internships helped them develop their writing skills and find their first jobs. UC Davis alumni Mariana Huben was an English and linguistics major that graduated in 2018. In her alumni spotlight, Huben said that she was able to get a job at her internship site after working as an intern. "After taking Journalism (UWP 104C), I took a summer internship at The Davis Enterprise as a copyeditor, where I learned how to apply Associated Press (AP) style, and the internship led to a part-time position during my senior year. This position gave me fantastic real-world editing experience, and everyone on the staff of the newspaper was so eager to help me learn," Huben said. Huben's internship experience is one of many stories that shows the benefits of internships.
What are some writing internships students are participating in?
For a current perspective, this article will highlight 5 interns who have completed professional writing internships in the past year. Interns will describe the work they have completed for their internship and reflect on what they found valuable from their internship. The interns participated in these internships for UWP 192 credit. The internship sites featured in this article are a variety of on campus and off campus sites such as Aggie Square, UC Davis College of Engineering, UC Davis Strategic Communications, Cool Davis and UC Davis Global Affairs. The internship sites were hosted by the Professional Writing program.
Aggie Square Communications Intern
Photo of Bryce Madden at the Aggie Square construction site, courtesy of Bryce Madden
Image of the proposed space for Aggie Square, courtesy of Aggie Square
Located in Sacramento, Aggie Square will be a space where UC Davis will host research, companies and startups. On their website, they stated that construction of the campus started in June 2022. Phase 1 will consist of building "two life sciences buildings with a modern lab space, a classroom and office tower, student housing, a food and health building, an open air marketplace and a public square."
The Aggie Square Communication internship is a 4-unit paid internship focused on creating content for the newsletter and website. The internship is both remote and on-site at Aggie Launch site in Sacramento. The Aggie Square newsletter Opportunity features monthly updates on job opportunities and stories on local events.
Fourth-year communication major and professional writing minor Bryce Madden worked as an intern for Aggie Square during winter quarter 2023. During his internship, the projects Madden worked on were writing the planning documents and an intern handbook. The planning documents were used to list tasks that the team needed to work on each month. The intern handbook was the main project of Madden's internship and covers aspects of the internship such as setting up meetings and writing articles. The goal of the project was to create a handbook for future interns to use and reference while completing the internship.
"The intern handbook pulled from preexisting documents for new hires, the processes I engaged with, and my personal understanding of the Aggie Square project," Madden said. "While the handbook was being made, I was taking a technical writing course and applying almost every lesson of that class to the handbook. Lessons on document organization had the most impact. Conversations with my instructor also provided direction and helped turn my personal impressions of Aggie Square into useful information, such as what key points should stay consistent across newsletter content."
One of the articles Madden worked on during his internship was "Local Glass Vendor Puts a Shine on Aggie Square". In this article, he wrote about the local company Bagatelos Architectural Glass Systems (BAGS). The article focused on the history of the company and the company's work on putting in the glass panels for two of the Aggie Square buildings.
From doing this internship, Madden found the team environment as a positive part of his experience.
"When I got into the project, it was fun working on something that everybody wants to see succeed so much," Madden said. "You can tell that people really like this project, they want to see everything work. Knowing it will have a really positive impact on Sacramento, it makes you happy going to work."
Madden also discussed his goals after graduation, explaining that he wants to continue to explore. He found this internship to be in line with what he wants to do in the future.
"I want to try different areas of communication [and] see where that takes me. I will say that working on this type of project is something I [would] definitely enjoy doing down the line," Madden said. "I think working on a project where you know that [everyone] wants to see it succeed — they're all trying their best. It's a really nice feeling, so I would love to work on that kind of thing again."
For advice for future interns looking to work in this position, Madden emphasized getting to know the project.
"You won’t always have all the information you need. Get clarification instead of making assumptions, and make sure that you’re always on the same page as the people you’re working with. As the intern, you’re not expected to know everything. Your job is to learn."
UC Davis College of Engineering Science Writing Intern
Photo of Lauren Ward with mentor Noah Pflueger-Peters and intern Maybeline Hinlo during a meeting, courtesy of Lauren Ward
The mission of UC Davis College of Engineering is to "create a sustainable world through socially responsible engineering. We connect people and technology to solve the world's most pressing problem, design a better tomorrow and make a positive difference in the world while stimulating world-class research and training the inspired, critical thinkers of the future."
The science writing internship with the UC Davis College of Engineering is a 3-unit unpaid internship. The intern writes stories about the research projects and events in the department and creates accessible articles that a general audience can understand.
Lauren Ward is a fourth-year evolution, ecology and biodiversity major and professional writing minor. During her internship, Ward said that she got to work on independent projects and assigned projects on news within the department. One of the articles that Ward wrote was about research on Alzheimer's disease.
"I was able to do a piece about somebody that was working on treating and diagnosing Alzheimer's disease, which was really cool," Ward said. "I feel like learning that research was not only just something that hit home for me, but was something that other people could relate to. It was cool to communicate the really hard bioengineering, and having the opportunity to facilitate that with community members."
Ward also wrote about Ujima Day, where Black and African middle and high school students from the surrounding school districts come to UC Davis and learn about how research is done. According to Ward's article, the students are part of the Ujima GIRL project, which works to support Black and African American girls who participate in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.
During the internship, Ward met with her mentor Noah Pflueger-Peters and intern Maybeline Hinlo to go over their drafts every week. Ward spoke of the collaborative environment she had with her team, where Pflueger-Peters would provide feedback on areas to work on in their articles. The interns also worked together and read each others' stories. Ward found the internship valuable because she was able to practice communicating research.
"My internship with the College of Engineering was one of the best experiences I think I've had at Davis," Ward said. "It will be something that I will cherish for a really long time because I was able to learn about things that I would otherwise not have been exposed to. Also, I was able to really grow in myself as a writer and as a researcher because I learned the importance of science communication and the importance of being able to communicate what you are interested in or what someone else is working on, but also learning the importance of accessible research as well."
After graduating from UC Davis, Ward is planning to go to graduate school. Ward's advice to future interns is to be open-minded when starting an internship or research.
"The biggest piece of advice I can give anyone going into any experience, whether it's an internship or research-related, is just be open minded and let the journey take you where it's going to take you," Ward said. "You don't know the sort of things you're going to learn and you certainly don't know what you don't know. That means there are only things for you to discover."
UC Davis Strategic Communications Social Media Intern
Photo of Alexa Carter working at the Rec Pool, courtesy of Dawson Diaz
UC Davis Strategic Communications's mission is to communicate the impact and value of UC Davis. Under Strategic Communications, there are different branches such as News and Media Relations which focuses on building community and reporting campus stories and Social Media, which engages audiences through the university's social media platforms.
Fourth-year communication major and professional writing minor Alexa Carter has worked as an intern for the Department of Strategic Communications for three years. Carter works for Team Social which is part of the Social Media branch under Strategic Communications. She started this position in September 2020, spending her first year working online. For her professional writing internship requirement, she added more hours to her existing internship and writes for the Majors Blog and the Admissions Blog. During the writing process, Carter would meet with her supervisor to choose three stories to work on. After getting approval from her supervisor, she outlined, interviewed and drafted the blog while getting feedback from her supervisor.
One of the blogs that Carter wrote was "Failing Your College Classes? Try Changing Majors", where Carter wrote about her experience almost failing a class and her experience with changing majors. Carter encourages students that it's okay to change majors and that it could help students become more successful. In an interview with Carter, she said that she received positive feedback on her blog and messages from people for sharing their stories. Carter expressed that she felt great having a positive impact on other people through this story.
"Getting to express myself through these blogs and then also seeing how it's been changing people's lives has been...it's probably the best part of the internship that I've been working on," Carter said.
Carter also wrote a blog titled "How a Professional Writing Minor Can Benefit Any Major", where she highlights the benefits of taking a professional writing minor. Some of the reasons she discusses are that it can help students in the STEM field practice writing in an accessible manner, allow students to express their creativity through their projects, and gain valuable job experience.
Carter described how the internship has helped her professionally such as learning about the type of careers she is interested in working in the future. It has also helped her practice creating content that fits different social media platforms. Carter explained that she was able to gain experience that will help prepare her for work after college.
When asked about her future after graduation, Carter expressed interest in finding a job that will be related to social media. She said she likes talking about students, student life and events related to universities. She is looking to work at a university and is open to working outside of California. However, she said she doesn't want to work in social media for her entire career, and that she would like to climb the ranks. She wants to end up in marketing one day and would like to be in a leadership role.
Carter's advice to students is to step out of your comfort zone and to connect with people.
"Know what you like and take a step outside of your comfort zone. Taking that leap and connecting with people can help you reach your goals. I think also being yourself along the way is important," Carter said. "Work hard for it, connect with people that see your value as a person and don’t forget your values along the way."
Cool Davis Environmental Outreach Communications Intern
Photo of Hillary Hoang at the Internship and Career Fair, courtesy of Hillary Hoang
Cool Davis is an environmental non-profit focused on getting the community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to a changing climate.
The Environmental Outreach Communications Internship is a 2-unit unpaid internship where the intern works with the Communication Coordinator to create media to distribute across the Cool Davis media channels.
Fourth-year managerial economics major and professional writing minor Hillary Hoang worked as an intern at Cool Davis during fall quarter 2022. During her time as an intern, she wrote stories for their news blog. One of the stories was about the effects of banking on the environment. The bank can use the money one puts into the bank to invest in fossil fuels. Changing where one bank can have an impact on the environment. The second story was a protest in London where people threw soup at the paintings.
During the writing process, Hoang explained that her supervisor, Leslie Crenna, suggested topics for her to write about for the newsletter. From there, Hoang chose a topic and spent a week researching the topic, then drafted and proofread the article until it was done. Every week, she would meet with Crenna to give updates on what she has completed and what she will work on for the next week.
Hoang described that the internship was valuable to her because it helped develop her skills in journalism writing.
"It was good for me to write in a different style than how I usually write academic research papers. This was more like journalism and more informal, so it was fun that way," Hoang said. "Because Leslie, the coordinator for my internship, was there. She gave me a lot of feedback on my writing and my grammar and stuff, so I thought that was very useful. It was just good to have more experience in writing in general."
After graduation, Hoang is interested in finding a job. She found this internship to be beneficial because she is able to apply the writing experience she gained to future jobs that require a lot of writing.
Hoang's advice to students is to find internships early because they can fill up quickly.
"Start getting your internships early. It's like super super hard to find internships, especially because some of them are seasonal," Hoang said. "So, you start applying for them the quarter before or in the middle of the quarter or something or you have to wait until the current interns cycle out so you can have a position."
UC Davis Global Affairs Writing Intern
Image of the UC Davis Global Affairs logo, courtesy of UC Davis Global Affairs
UC Davis Global Affairs comprises many programs that focus on global education. Their goal of Global Education for All aims to "provide 100% of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students with global learning opportunities that change their lives and our world". Global Affairs offers ways to develop skills through projects, study abroad and internships. Global Affairs also hosts fellowships such as the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship and the Mandela Washington Fellowship, where Fellows from abroad can learn beneficial skills and acquire professional development. They also include the Services for International Students and Scholars (SISS) which supports international students through their programming.
The UC Davis Global Affairs internship is a 1-4 unit unpaid internship where the intern will work with the Global Affairs Director to create content for the website. The intern can write stories about programs and events occurring in Global Affairs, as well as highlighting students through blogs and spotlights.
Third-year international relations major and professional writing minor Simone Nelson worked as a writing intern for UC Davis Global Affairs in summer 2022. During her time as an intern, Nelson's work included social media copywriting, sending and replying to emails and some graphic design. She also wrote articles for the Global Affairs website, edited and proofread website content and conducted research for website content.
One of the articles that Nelson wrote for the website was about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, a program supported by the US Department of State and part of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). In June 2022, 25 leaders from sub-Saharan Africa participated in a 6-week Leadership Institute in Public Management at UC Davis.
Nelson met with her mentor Jana Sanders-Perry, the Assistant Director for Communications and Marketing, regularly.
"Jana is an amazing mentor and communications professional. She helped me to learn so much about writing and communications within a higher-education organization. It was amazing to have the opportunity to work in an organization as passionate as Global Affairs."
A skill that Nelson was able to practice during her internship was interviewing.
"I had never interviewed anyone before, so it was intimidating at first to speak with others, especially the Mandela Washington Fellows! I eventually realized that there is nothing to be nervous about, because the people you’re speaking to want to talk to you and are passionate about their career fields," Nelson said.
Before starting the internship, Nelson said that she did not have experience with writing outside of assignments for classes. Nelson found the internship valuable because she was able to gain experience in different forms of writing.
"This was an amazing opportunity to speak with people in different careers and learn about what I would be interested in pursuing! For writing specifically, it gave me a great foundation of how to plan writing/communication projects, and how to effectively communicate with others," Nelson said.
Nelson's advice for future interns in her position is to build connections while working in an internship.
"Connect as much as you can to your supervisors or anyone that you talk to or work with! Being a writing intern gives you great platform to connect and network with others."
Students working in professional writing internships start with different levels of experience in writing and interests. A recurring theme is that some of the interns mentioned that they were pursuing a new style of writing for the first time and worked on these skills through their internship. With the help of their supervisors and fellow interns, they were able to grow and develop their skill set in writing.
Students interested in learning more about the minor and internships can find information on the professional writing minor website. They can also talk with Professional Writing Program Internship Coordinator Dr. Katie Rodger (email@example.com) or Associate Director Dr. Rebekka Andersen (firstname.lastname@example.org).
For organizations that are interested in creating an internship, they can contact Dr. Rodger or Dr. Andersen to discuss the idea and how to promote it. Organizations should also complete the Request Form for a Professional Writing Intern.