Category Archives: Internships

Intern Profile: Asia Ewart at the Flim Forum Press


For the spring 2014 semester, Asia Ewart was the public relations intern for the independent poetry press Flim Forum Press, as well as its monthly reading series, Yes! Poetry and Performance. This is her experience. 

Flim Forum prints one book of poetry every year, so promotion is essential when a title is released. The book released during my internship was Clarity Speaks of a Crystal Sea by poet Afton Wilky. My responsibilities while working for Flim Forum included updating the Facebook page twice a day with “daily blasts” about Clarity Speaks; promoting events for past Flim Forum poets; writing up press releases for Yes! readings and sending them to various arts publications and websites like Metroland and Keep Albany Boring; setting up and attending the Yes! series at the Albany Center Gallery every month, and looking up potential independent bookstores to carry Clarity Speaks.

The latter took the most time. I had 30-plus page list of bookstores in every state in the U.S. Being a public relations intern was a giant step out of my comfort zone. Time-wise, it actually coincided with a position I took here on campus as the public relations officer for a school club.

The purpose of a public relations representative is to spread the word of whatever it is they’re representing. Posters are made, Facebook events are made, phone calls are made; you have to put yourself out there and interact with others. I’ve never been good at interacting with others; I can be shy and some interactions have pushed me to the point of anxiety. When senior year began, however, I knew that I would soon be out in the real world, so I wanted to push myself a little further.

Taking an internship that required me to work with people outside of my college community was like putting me in the real world. It wasn’t like my previous internship where I was always at the comfort of a desk indoors and away from large groups of people.I couldn’t have my shyness holding me back now. During this internship, I think I’ve benefitted from being made to interact with others, mainly at the Yes! reading series. At the readings, I’d have to meet the colleagues of my internship boss and people attending the readings, as well as those performing; as the semester went on, it became easier to hold a conversation because I was now used to these people.

I also believe working with Flim Forum has given me better confidence in connecting with others. A lot of personal issues have always had me thinking that what I did had no worth, whether it was an assignment or a piece of personal writing. When I would write up my press releases, I felt trusted and like others would hear what I had to say about Yes!. When my boss would review them, he’d compliment my writing style and how they were put together. I was also able to bring myself to speak to others at the readings. My knowledge of what I was promoting and continuous interactions with individuals strengthened my voice in person and in emails.

I’d say that internship that stands out to me the most would be the first Yes! reading I attended. It was at the end of January, at the Albany Center Gallery on Columbia Street. The entire process of getting there and setting up for something I helped spread the word about solidified my role as an intern then. My internship boss, Matthew Klane, introduced me to the tech team who would be filming the reading and some of the poets as the intern. I felt a part of something so much bigger than myself and loved that feeling. The first reading I attended contained poetry performance types I wasn’t even aware of, like visual poetry, or “vis-po.” It was very artistic and displayed in such a professional way.

Flim Forum is an independent poetry press; they don’t follow conventional rules in publishing and cater to the preferences of the poet whose work they are publishing. Poetry is what the poet makes it; a poet can choose to follow forms or make the writing style and wording their own. When Clarity Speaks was published, the words printed on each page were haphazard, placed in every corner of the page, and contained many pictures, and this is because Afton Wilky wanted it this way.

What I’ve learned from being an English major is that you can take any piece of literature and, with the proper proof, convey any ideas you have about it. I’ve read pieces closely and used theories to solidify ideas that I didn’t even know could come from a text. Poetry is what a poet makes it and literature is what a reader makes it. When I go into journalism as a career and am working on an opinion piece, I’ll have in the back of my mind the reminder that whatever information I’m working with always has the option to be my own work and be said in my own words.

Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone; you never know what you’re going to learn when you go that extra mile. Having an internship is such a rewarding experience and can have a huge effect on what you want to do in the future. Always be observant, and at the end, write down everything you’ve learned.



Intern Profile: Jenessa Matis at Senior Services of Albany

jenJenessa was a Marketing & Development Intern at Senior Services of Albany in the Spring of 2014. These are her experiences.

Senior Services of Albany is a local non-profit dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of seniors in Albany and the Capital Region. At my internship, my objectives were to position Senior Services of Albany as the leading eldercare expert in the Capital Region; promote programs & services to elders & their caregivers; and support fundraising objectives.

I worked on various promotional pieces such as a flyer, brochures, and direct mail letters, and I also did internet research for grants and contact information. Some of my duties were to update a few of the pieces that SSA already had, but I was also able to create new documents on my own.

Overall, my internship at Senior Services of Albany has showed me that I am capable of using the skills I have acquired as an English major in the real world. I doubted myself a lot in the beginning and was wary of adjusting to a professional environment and work on documents other than for assignments for school. By working through my assignments and constantly learning about myself, my work ethics, and what it takes to work in a professional environment, my confidence in my abilities grew. During my time at SSA I felt extremely welcome and appreciated and I was frequently praised and thanked for the contributions I made.

One example from my internship that stands out to me is when I spotted a mistake in a letter that was sent out to prospective donors. On this day, the office was very hectic because these letters had to be sent out that day in order to ensure they would arrive on time. I did not have any part in writing or editing the letters, but I was asked to fold and stuff them into envelopes in order to be sent out. After having folded about 250 letters and sealing them in envelopes, I quickly proofread one and noticed that it said, “Donations are due by Monday, Friday March 21.” Obviously, that was a pretty big error.

Even though SSA could not spare the money to fix/reprint the letters and use new envelopes for the ones I had already folded and sealed, I was able to help by sending out letters with the correct day from that point forward. The most important thing to keep in mind when going into an internship is to not doubt your abilities and undermine what you are capable of accomplishing. If you work hard and learn to adapt to the work environment and what is asked of you, you should have no problem being successful.

Intern Profile: Rob Stoddard at the Rensselaer County ARC

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Rob Stoddard (middle, standing) working at the Rensselaer County ARC.

In the spring of 2014, Rob Stoddard interned as an assistant teacher at the Rensselaer County ARC in Troy, New York. This is his experience.

My internship was never very static. Class sizes ranged from four or five students to ten or eleven, so on any given day I needed to make a lesson that presumed I would have full attendance and catered to the needs of each individual student to some extent. Because the students all had different writing levels, I also needed to account for the students that were able to write at higher levels: each writing prompt needed to be both diverse and specific, which meant that the prompt needed to be easy enough for some students to comprehend and write, and also difficult enough that other students could let their creative minds explore and unpack further.

There were also several occasions in which I had to run the class by myself. A typical day was split up between my supervisor and I. I would take the first hour of class, and she would teach the last half. On days where it was all up to me, I was not only required to prepare twice the amount of prompts, but also maintain a focused learning environment, which was never an easy task to accomplish.

Early into my internship I described to the class what exactly I did in school, what I was learning, what my future dreams were, and what my area of study was. When the class learned that I had loved studying copious amounts Renaissance literature, specifically plays, they took a keen interest in creating a script as a class. I was absolutely astounded. The next class I brought in several writing prompts revolving around plot creation, narrative structure, and character creation. The students loved it. It was the most positive response I’d ever received from them. The feeling of knowing I inspired sincere, fun creativity is something I will never forget, and it gave me the reassurance that I was looking for. From that point on I knew I wanted to be a teacher.

This internship was an incredible opportunity. Since I eventually want to teach at the collegiate level, I specifically looked for teaching positions for my internship. When this position became available I immediately applied for it. Being an English major means knowing how to not only write effectively, but analyze effectively as well. This opportunity allowed me to teach my class how to write more proficiently, and it also taught them how to think a little more critically about what it was that they were writing about. I think the correlation between my college career and my professional aspirations are quite clear, and teaching the creative expressions class aided in solidifying my idea of what it takes to become a great teacher.

My advice for other English majors is to not limit yourself. Reach out to your faculty, and embrace their criticism. I would not be the writer I am today, nor would I have publication in the college’s journal, if I hadn’t embraced my instructors’ critiques on my writing. Sometimes it feels like they’re shooting you down or blowing off your ideas completely, but I promise that the comments are meant to make you better. If you take the comments too harshly I don’t think your writing will progress. Ask them to clarify their remarks; use the comments as a chance to learn something as opposed to just brushing them off.

Intern Profile: Jenna Gragnano at the Northeastern Association of the Blind

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Jenna Gragnano (right) at NABA’s 2014 Visionary Gala.

Jenna Gragnano interned at The Northeastern Association of the Blind at Albany, or NABA, in Spring 2014. These are her experiences.

At NABA, I was responsible for various tasks while working under the supervision of the Director of Communications and Development, Michele O’Hare. My first assignment was to contact prospective golf courses to see if they were interested in holding a Blind Golf Tournament at their course. One of my many writing assignments including conducting an interview with NABA’s Youth Coordinator, Caterina Marra, about the Youth Program. After interviewing Caterina, I was responsible for writing an article about the Youth Program that ran in NABA’s annual newsletter, Brighter Horizons.

I also helped plan, assemble, and assist at the 2014 Visionary Gala. I wrote the mail invitation letters, as well as worked the wine pull at the event. I was in charge of asking guests if they would like to purchase a wine cork for twenty dollars, and at the end of the night they would receive a bottle of wine ranging in worth from twenty dollars to one hundred dollars. There were eighty wine corks and I successfully sold all of them, raising NABA $1,600. The money raised from the wine pull will allow NABA to continue to provide services to help the blind and visually impaired achieve their independence and growth.

I also learned the basics of how a non-profit organization was run. I worked on small projects such as: stuffing envelopes for mail letters, organizing sweatshirt orders, and decorating for the wine pull as well as putting together advertisement posters for the Visionary Gala.

The first day I interned at NABA, I was asked to make phone calls to a list of country clubs and golf courses to see if they were interested in hosting a Blind Golf tournament. I was given a folder of golf course directories and placed in a room by myself. I can remember feeling overwhelmed and nervous to call the courses. That day, I left forty voicemails to prospective golf courses. I left my internship that day still feeling nervous and worried that I was not going to be an asset to their organization.

My last week at my internship, I was asked to call the golf courses again to confirm a date and time for course play. Michele O’Hare handed the same folder of golf course directories to me and placed me in an office by myself. The feeling of nervousness was far gone, and that is when I realized that I had become comfortable at my internship as well as talking and conversing with others since this time the golf courses were open and someone was available to speak to.

Being an English major has been a blessing in disguise. Although I was originally an Adolescent English Education major, I still was nervous about my choice to become an English major. After interning at NABA, I realized that my major is applicable to a variety of fields and that my possibilities are endless. After I graduate, I plan on volunteering at NABA because I really enjoyed my time there and I want to work with non-profit organizations.

My advice to students in this major is to not always listen to what others have to say being an English major, that it’s a negative for your career. You are gaining an education that leaves you with endless possibilities

Intern Profile: Chris Surprenant at Modern Farmer magazine

Surprenant1Chris Surprenant (right) was an editorial assistant at Modern Farmer, based in Hudson, NY. Here is his account.

During my time at Modern Farmer, I was required to do a variety of different tasks for both their print magazine and website. I produced several transcriptions of phone interviews that ranged anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour long. I was also required to create several photo posts using materials from the Library of Congress, and conducted a phone interview that I later turned into a Question and Answer post for their website.

When I was not involved with the writing side of things, I was actively involved in administrative duties that required me to take inventory of their online store items. For this, I created a spreadsheet that included names and addresses of potential places where the magazine would be sold. While I performed a variety of different tasks, creating photo posts and transcribing were my two biggest responsibilities.

summer14I pitched our web editor three or four ideas, and he chose which one he felt would generate the most online traffic. Once I was given the go-ahead, I would spend the afternoon gathering up a collection of photos from the Library of Congress, create a document with the provided captions, and write a short blurb about the spread itself. I then uploaded the photos and captions to their website through WordPress where I would arrange them according to preset guidelines. The following week, the post would be published on a Friday afternoon. As for the transcriptions, they were a tedious but integral part of the writing process for the writers. On average, a half an hour interview could take up to two hours to transcribe without interruption.

I was able to observe how a print magazine is put together and the many steps it takes to actually create a final product. The pitching process was also interesting to observe, as I was able to see what would or would not fit into the magazine and why.

I was definitely able to see the potential of an English major in the workforce, particularly in areas that rely heavily on writing and research. English majors are trained to find answers to hard questions with all of our research papers we write. Also, knowing how to correctly form a sentence is something that is valuable in the news industry. Clarity and the conciseness are things we are taught as undergraduates in our writing, and it is overwhelmingly applicable when writing a story.

The creative muscle of an English major is also incredibly valuable. The “7 Prominent Pop Culture Pigs” post I created required me to be able to phrase their biographies in such a way that was not only humorous, but also clear and brief. These are skills that I feel can be applied to marketing, writing, editing, or research positions in the future. I’ve learned that, as an English major, it’s all about how we market ourselves. We can’t say that we just read a lot of books and wrote a lot of papers. That’s reductive. It’s elaborating on how we did those things that employers will ultimately care about.

For English majors who will eventually be doing their internships, my advice would be to write, write, and write! Modern Farmer liked that I had clips to show them to actually prove I could coherently string words together and write on variety of topics in different ways. Also, it’s a good idea to join clubs where there is a lot of collaboration. My time at The Chronicle not only gave me an outlet to write, but it also required an immense amount of teamwork. I think that those traits are valuable not only for landing an internship, but for functioning in the real world.

Intern Profile: Hannah Fairbanks at Northeastern Association for the Blind at Albany

photoHannah Fairbanks (right) interned at the Northeastern Association for the Blind at Albany (NABA).  This is her account.

NABA is a not-for-profit organization that provides assistance and support to those who are visually impaired or blind.  The organization serves fourteen counties and helps people of all ages.

During my internship I worked under Michele O’Hare, the head of development and marketing at NABA.  During my time there some of my tasks included writing articles for the newsletter, entering information into the organizations databases, conducting interviews and working during one of NABA’s fundraising events.

I wrote several articles for their annual news letter as well as their website.  I wrote an article for their website about the Blind Golfers Association, asking people to volunteer as coaches.  I also conducted an interview with NABA’s employment specialist and wrote an article about the Work Experience Training program she put together. 

What I was most excited about was the mail appeal letter I wrote.  I wrote it about Lois Winner, an elderly woman with vision loss.  The mail appeal letter is sent out asking people across the fourteen counties NABA serves to donate during the holiday season.  This mail appeal letter will reach thousands of people. It was exciting to know so many people would see something I wrote.  It was also a nice experience that I got to meet and have lunch with Ms. Winner and read her the letter I wrote.

Another task that really stood out to me was my work during NABA’s Casino Night fundraiser.  The fundraiser took place at the Albany Country Club and had more than two hundred guests in attendance.  My job was to sign people in and collect their information for the mailing list.  Although the job was not difficult, it was eye opening.  Prior to this internship, I had no idea the amount of work that went into a not-for-profit.  They rely on donations to provide support to those who need it, making fundraisers such as Casino Night a big deal. It was interesting to see all the preparation and dedication from people working at NABA to pull off such a large event.

I benefited a great deal from this internship.  Before working at NABA, I had a very limited idea about what it meant to work for a not-for-profit.   I now know that it takes a lot of work, and you have to be willing to do an assortment of tasks in order to help the organization.

One day, I ended up making salad in NABA’s kitchen for a luncheon they were having.  My internship advisor told me that when you work for a not-for-profit you have to be willing to do anything to help out, and sometimes that means making salads. That’s when I realized that working in a not-for-profit is something I could see myself doing as a career.  I like the idea of never sitting and doing the same thing day in and day out.   I learned a lot about what it means to be professional as well as the importance of performing tasks given to me in a timely manner.

This internship connected directly to being an English major.  Working on newsletter articles each week as well as working on articles for the website allowed me to use my writing skills.  I also got to conduct an interview with a NABA employee, as well as people that attended NABA’s Tech Fair.  I had learned about interview techniques in an English class I took Freshman year which made it easier and less stressful. Furthermore, I had to write emails and perform tasks in a timely manner, which I believe is relevant for every major, not just English.

My biggest advice to students about to embark on the journey of finding an internship is to go somewhere you’re interested in but might not know a lot about.  Going to a not-for-profit was so beneficial to me because it allowed me to see another side of business.  In my opinion, there’s no better time to try something new then during an internship.  You’re really not going to lose anything from going somewhere you don’t know a lot about, you’ll end up learning so much.  I now know I would like to work for a not-for-profit which is something I would have never learned about myself had I not interned at NABA.  

Intern Profile: Samantha Short at The Sanctuary for Independent Media

Short Samantha photo1Samantha Short was the Social Media Intern at The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy, NY. Here’s her account.

My first duties were to create events on the Sanctuary Facebook page and website and create pages on the Sanctuary ticket seller website, I also helped create an entirely new segment on their website called People Power. In this part of their website, I created new stories about almost all of the people who volunteer and spend their time helping out with the Sanctuary. The People Power page has buttons that navigate you to each section of the page: for example, I created the Kitchen Sanctuary button, which has a different story for each person that has dedicated their time in helping to prepare and share food with the community. I have also written stories for the intern page, the Youth Media Sanctuary page, the Funders and Inspiration page, as well as many more organizations and people that volunteer. I also wrote up the press releases for their events of the Fall 2013 season, as well as attended some events to help out with the door and café.

Short Samantha photo3I met artists and presenters from all over the world who came to perform and speak at The Sanctuary. I have definitely broadened my horizons by learning about these different artists and organizations that are affiliated with The Sanctuary. I have not only learned a lot about these people, but I have also learned a lot about different types of media, which was helpful because I would like to pursue a career in that field.

After writing all the stories, descriptions, bios, and press releases, I now think being an English major was the right path for me. I enjoyed studying the different bands and performers that came to The Sanctuary as well as writing about them on the website to attract the public. When I first came to college, I was unsure of what I wanted to do with my future, but since I started my internship at the Sanctuary, I think I would like to go in the direction of social media and public relations since I enjoyed my time doing this type of work.

Before I started my internship, I thought the only thing that English majors could do with their degree was either become an author or become a librarian. Since my search for an internship, I realized that there is a lot more that could be done with an English degree. I enjoy working with different types of media, and I have realized that there is a need for people who can write and communicate with others in the media world.