Get Real! An English Major’s Guide to Internships

Apr 24, 2013

By Laura Van Valkenburgh ‘13

Have your parents ever asked you how you’re ever going to get a job with your English degree? Do you find that question annoying, yet you’re sort of wondering about it yourself?

Many of us at Heidelberg have found that a helpful way to answer this question is by obtaining an internship. I was originally an English education major; with that choice, there is an obvious career path. That’s why when I switched to English as my major, I knew I had to dig a little deeper to discover what I could do.

Initially, I went to my advisor in the English department asking what my best choice would be. I was immediately told that I should try to find an internship. Now, that immediately sounded scary to me, but I knew it would be beneficial. I was always told that internships give you a leg up on the competition in the job world.

I went to Kristen Lindsay, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs for Student Success and Director of the Academic & Career Support Center (see contact info at the bottom of this article), to ask for advice on how to find an internship. The first piece of information she told me was that I had to write and/or update my resume. She showed me how to format it so that it would please a potential employer. She explained that looking for internship is essentially the same process as looking for a job.

After she helped me with my resume, I started searching online for internships. The Heidelberg website has links to different internship databases, but Kristen Lindsay told me I should ask places that haven’t actually posted information about them. I did just that. Since I’m from a suburb of Cleveland, I started asking places around there so that I could live at home while interning. I e-mailed inquiries to places like chambers of commerce, local newspapers, and libraries.

In the end, I got an overwhelmingly positive response from the Cuyahoga County Public Library. I didn’t actually have to interview with them, but they had me send my resume and some other publications to show my writing ability. They asked me what kind of work I would like to do, so I explained that I had an English writing major and would like experience in technical writing and other areas. The CCPL crafted an internship just for me, and I got to write, implement, and co-lead different youth writing programs. It was a lot more fun than sitting at a desk all day! But I also did write guidebooks, I worked on a grant, I worked with the Marketing Division, and I gathered information from various employees for a research project. I received plenty of valuable information and experience in diverse areas of writing.

However, the CCPL could only offer 5 hours of credit for an internship, so if you wanted to inquire with them, I would suggest you only do so if you live in the Cleveland area. I drove back and forth to Heidelberg every Friday since I was no longer living on campus but still needed course credits to be considered a full-time student. It was tiresome, but I definitely believe it was worth it – because while I learned so much at my internship, I also had fun meeting all the new people and learning how to work in the “real world.”

I also talked to some other Heidelberg English majors who obtained internships. Jackie Stanziano and Clayton Burke both worked with the Habitat for Humanity located in Tiffin. Clay also said he did not need to interview there; Dr. Kimmel works on the Habitat for Humanity board, so he acted as a recommender for Clay. Clay said he gained valuable experience in grant-writing and advertising techniques – which are both very viable paths for an English major. Clay said, “People on the line between an internship: DO IT. You won't regret it and neither will your resume.”

Jackie agreed, saying, “I feel like the degree itself is abstract, and internships allow a person to show on a resume applicable skills and time worked.” She said Dr. Kimmel recommended her to the Habitat for Humanity internship, so if gaining experience in technical writing and grant-writing sounds beneficial for you, you should ask him about it. Plus, Jackie said Joe Swora, the executive director of the Seneca Habitat, is very flexible and will work with you to find the right credit hours.

Logan Burd obtained an internship at Community Hospice Care in Tiffin. He says he had a “painless” interview with them – he said they both wanted the same things out of the experience, so he was offered the internship. He said that unfortunately he wasn’t able to work a lot with writing, but he still feels that working in a non-profit organization will always look good on a resume. He says that as English major you should try to get one, two, or three internships in your time in college!

He’s probably right. Any writing work you can do will set you apart as an English major. There’s tons of work out there that you would be able to do – prove it to potential employers by snagging an internship!

To ask for advice on obtaining an internship, please visit The Academic and Career Support Center in Campus Center 315.

Or contact Kristen Lindsay:
klindsay@heidelberg.edu
(419)-448-2301