Students Prove Skills at Practicums

Before graduating, every PWR student participates in a practicum—a personalized course out in the field. Here are some of our recent graduates’ experiences.

Jaci Gorrell, 2019, interning with “For Evansville”

Jaci Gorrell at her “For Evansville” practicum

This experience has first and foremost proved to me that I am a well-trained writer. In a timely manner, I was able to produce copy that was engaging, witty, and appropriate for our audience. I was also able to edit devotions for clarity while preserving the author’s voice—a task that some of the authors made quite difficult. I had all the skills necessary to write with excellence what was asked of me. This experience has also proved to me that my writing skills are needed in a diverse range of settings. I never would have thought a nonprofit would seek out a Professional Writing major, but it was evident once I arrived they truly needed someone to do the work I was doing. I was further reassured that writing full-time is something I can and want to do. It’s difficult to imagine writing for a living when we sit in class and hear about it, but this internship showed me it’s definitely possible—and that I enjoy it!

Overall, this internship has allowed me to put my editing, writing, and communication skills to use to help further a worthy organization. I’m grateful for the connections I made in Evansville, the appreciation I gained for city unification, and the work that will not only enhance my portfolio but also the city of Evansville.

  Ben Krapohl, 2019, interning with the Nashville Post

I came to digital business news source and magazine Nashville Post apprehensive about my abilities. It isn’t that I doubted my writing, per se. It’s that, for as long as I’ve been putting pen to paper and clattering away at my keys, my creative process has been absolutely glacial. I’ve always pressured myself to ensure all my own standards, and that pressure can often become paralyzing (or close to it). Needless to say, this sort of creative angst is not a luxury most in the news world can afford. Journalists must show that they can reliably create copy on tight timetables. I feared that I would crumple under the pressure at a place like the Post, or else create pieces of writing so far beneath my own standards that I would hate the whole experience.

Ben Krapohl

I am deeply grateful to report that neither of these things happened! Quite to the contrary, the whole experience turned out to be edifying and encouraging. I held to what the Professional Writing department’s intro classes had taught me about cutting unneeded words, clung to what I’d learned in my editing classes about AP style, and gave it my best. And as the weeks wore on, I was thrilled to realize I was meeting all my deadlines and even getting a step ahead sometimes—and I could still be proud of my work. It was deeply gratifying to have one of my greatest writing weak spots confronted and strengthened.

Alyssa Roat, 2020, interning with Cyle Young, literary agent for Hartline

On a more abstract level, I gained something I’ve never had much of: confidence. I had to make decisions. I had to talk to strangers. And … I didn’t fail. Sure, I messed up a few times (like sending emails to a few publishers without the proposal attached), but it wasn’t the end of the world. Cyle gave me great advice a few days ago: “Be confident. No one has to know if you don’t know something. Tell them you’ll check up on it and get back to them. It’s kind of like saying, ‘Fake it ‘til you make it,’ but you’re not faking it. You have the tools, and you know what you’re doing. You’ll get the information. In the meantime, you’ll seem confident, so people will be put at ease and have confidence in you, too.”

Megan Alms, 2019, interning with best-selling author Michelle Medlock-Adams

Medlock-Adams and Alms

As I completed my assignments for this internship, I felt like I got a taste of what it’s like to work as a full-time freelance writer. This was something I hoped to get out of this course, as I wanted to explore whether I have what it takes to even consider this as a career option. I already knew that, unfortunately, a full-time writer cannot solely spend time writing. The job requires commitment to self-promoting, marketing, and continually reaching out for new opportunities. But, for the most part, I found these extra responsibilities enjoyable. I enjoyed the industry insights I gathered and the professional world of writing. I loved having a job in which I felt like a true professional and was able to present myself as somewhat of an expert. Though I am cautious of the commitment to full-time freelancing, this experience has helped me gain confidence in my ability to someday pursue this career.

Josh Henreckson, 2019, interning with The Borgen Project

This summer, I had the opportunity to work as a Writing Intern for The Borgen Project—a nonprofit political advocacy group. The project aims to make international poverty and foreign aid a focus of national U.S. policy. It achieves this in a variety of ways including lobbying candidates and—my own role—raising awareness through articles on its blog and magazine webpages.

Working there allowed me to both pursue growth in my writing career and put real effort and resources into a political cause I care about. As a Christian, I feel compelled to cultivate my talents and put them to meaningful use in the world. With The Borgen Project, I was able to work toward these ends and develop in other ways as well. Overall, the process of writing for The Borgen Project was an amazing experience. It helped me develop my peripheral skills—researching, formatting, etc.—and helped me get a taste of working with regular, professional deadlines over a relatively long period of time.

Megan Burkhart, 2019, interning with Cyle Young, literary agent for Hartline

Cyle Young posing with the pro-writes (Megan Burkhart front and center)

One side project taught me a lot about myself and pushed me outside my comfort zone: attending the SpeakUp Conference in Grand Rapids with Cyle [the literary agent]. I got to follow him around and sit in on his one-on-one appointments. It wasn’t long before the woman heading up the one-on-ones asked if I could take appointments in the afternoon. After watching Cyle do a few, I agreed. It was certainly daunting at first, but then I realized that the people sitting across from me were probably more nervous than I was! By the end of the day, I was feeling confident, and I’m grateful for the experience. I know that this is something I could do in the future. . . 

This experience has shown me that I can be an agent, something I had never considered before this summer. I’ve learned to be confident in my skills, yet humble and open as I continue to learn new things. Also, I’ve learned that I can do multiple things—I’m not a one-trick pony. I can write and edit in more than one genre. I’m building my portfolio, and I’m thankful that I was given so many opportunities. But most importantly, the internship has given me a springboard to launch into my career.

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