Tag Archives: Internship

4 Ways to Make an Unpaid Internship Work for You

By: Olivia Power

If you work during the school year or in the summer, you probably think you don’t have the time or money for an unpaid internship. Or, you may think that these types of internships are merely a form of exploitation. If you find yourself nodding your head in agreement at this point, this post is for you.

It’s enough to make an English major despair, isn’t it? What’s the point in working without a tangible reward? Or what if working for free is just not a financial possibility? And why are so many unpaid internships the exact kind that English majors want–positions for writers and editors? Are words really this cheap?

But don’t despair, English majors. Unpaid internships can be tricky, but when you find one that strikes the right balance between good experience and low time-commitment, it can end up being well worth your time.

As I read the description for the position of Communications & Marketing intern at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Indiana at the end of last semester, my heart began to race. I had been searching for a position exactly like this one for months, one that would suit my interest in nonprofit organizations. But, as their name implies, nonprofits rarely have the luxury of extra cash for paying interns, relying on volunteers and just a few salaried staffers to carry out their mission. When I applied for the internship, I knew I wouldn’t be getting paid, but hoped that I’d gain enough good experience would make up for the spending money I’d be missing out on. I got that and more.

Here are some ways to approach an unpaid internship to make sure you get the most out of your experience, just as I did this past summer.

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Brittany Ulman on Interning at International Floral Distributors, Inc.

#bsuenglish Senior Brittany Ulman reflects on the valuable experience she gained as the marketing intern at International Floral Distributors, Inc. in Richmond, Indiana this summer. During this time, Brittany created numerous marketing materials, wrote the scripts that would be featured in IFD’s annual Flower Trends Forecast, and served as a guest blogger for Indianaintern.net.

My internship at International Floral Distributors, Inc. was definitely a whirlwind to say the least, but that doesn’t mean it was not worthwhile. Even though I wasn’t completely prepared for the way in which I was propelled into the previously foreign world known as the flower industry, that exact phenomenon is one of the reasons why I enjoyed my time at IFD.

Despite the fact that my internship placed me in an unexplored environment, I enjoyed the challenge. I love the fact that as an intern, I wasn’t simply doing busy work or carrying out small errands for my co-workers. Instead, I was in the middle of nearly every project, voicing my opinion and being one of the main team members.

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Emily Mack on Interning at the Indiana Writers Center

Ball State University junior education major Emily Mack describes her phenomenal summer internship through the Indiana Writers Center where she worked with children to help them sharpen their writing skills.

This summer I had the opportunity to intern for the Indiana Writers Center, helping to teach creative writing to 3 different groups:  a pack of brutally honest, rowdy, affectionate 1st-3rd graders and two classes of funny, guarded, intelligent, bilingual high school students. In a mere seven weeks, almost 300 student writers ages 5-18 from across Indiana produced pages upon pages of funny, thought-provoking, gut-wrenching poems and mini-memoirs.Bryson and Emily

I believe everyone has an innate desire to be known and to connect with others. Storytelling has always been about sharing a connection. In meeting these kids where they are–embracing them as the wiggly, imaginative, funny, vulnerable, intelligent kids they are–we enable them to share their stories and be known by all who will read them.  The best parts of this experience were getting out of my own bubble, being able to put what I’m learning about diversity and teaching into action, and being trusted with these stories.

One day Bryson, a 7-year-old at Saint Florian, walked into class, pointed at me, and said, “I want to write with you today!”  I promised I would and went around the classroom to greet other students and pass out sheets of paper.  He kept staring at me and patting the empty chair beside him until I sat by him.   Continue reading

Taylor Wicker: I'm the Girl Behind the Desk

Since we’re approaching the end of the Spring semester, it’s time to hear what the English public relations interns have to say! Today, Taylor tells us about her experiences as an English student — both inside and outside the classroom. 

I got my job as an English department secretary a few weeks before I started my freshman year of college. The office was inviting, my co-workers and bosses were friendly, and every day that I worked behind the front desk, I found myself meeting people, students, staff, and professors — all intimidatingly smarter than I was in every aspect of life.

I spent my first year hiding behind that front desk, watching clubs organize events I refused to go to, hearing about readings in local coffee shops I’d most certainly miss, and poetry competitions I would never dream of competing in. I got into the habit of staying behind the scenes, of appreciating my department at a distance. The more time I spent behind the desk, avoiding these opportunities, the more I craved to be involved in them.

I was writing, sure, but I wasn’t showing it to anyone. I was reading, definitely, but I didn’t want to talk about my experiences with anyone outside of my painfully disinterested friend group.

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Want to spend a semester in New York City?

Brandon Buechley, Ball State undergrad.

Brandon Buechley, Ball State undergrad

Brandon Buechley is a Creative Writing major at Ball State University.

He recently took part in the New York Arts Program, where he worked with DAW Books, a subsidiary of Penguin Random House.

He also worked with the Manhattan-based Guerrilla Lit Reading Series.

We had the opportunity to talk to Brandon about his internship experience in New York City. Here’s what he had to say!

Your English skills are valuable

The New York Arts Program accepts students with skills and passions in all the liberal arts, creative writing included. My English major was obviously a contributing factor in my acceptance into the program.

I was able to present a few pieces I’ve worked on in Ball State courses, showing the program coordinators what I had to offer.

The program tends to have more artists and media specialists than creative writers, so I think the skills I brought to the table certainly helped me stand out.

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Jessie Fudge lands internship at Indy Monthly, stalks Jim Nabors

photo provided by Jessie Fudge

photo provided by Jessie Fudge

During the spring semester 2014, creative writing major Jessie Fudge (B.A. 2014) worked as a fact checker at the magazine Indianapolis Monthly. She got a few online bylines as well, such as this piece about a Ball State immersive learning course on Kurt Vonnegut, a profile of a flask maker, as well as coverage of the gay marriage HJR-3 bill.

We just had to ask her a few questions. 

How did you go land this internship at IndyMonthly? 

Kim Hannel, the managing editor at Indianapolis Monthly, sent out an email seeking Ball State students as fact checkers for the magazine. It felt like this great opportunity just fell into my lap, so I jumped at the chance to apply for it.

I had to pass a few tests before I was granted an interview, one to show I had fact-checking and grammar skills and the other to see if I had a basic knowledge of current events. I showed Kim I’d be great for the job by focusing on which facts to verify instead of getting bogged down with every little grammatical error I saw.

The best advice I can offer is to not be shy when these internship offers come around. If you see an opportunity like working for a magazine, take it.

What did you do in a typical day or week?

  • Get coffee!
  • Check in with Kim to see if she has any extra work for me to do.
  • Read through an article (the parts that need to be verified are highlighted by the wonderful Kim).
  • Try and find as much information as possible online before calling or emailing sources.
  • Call or email all the people you need to question. These people can range from the super friendly and talkative to those who are angry for being bothered.
  • Wait for them to get back to you (this is the most horrible part of the job…the endless waiting…)
  • Type everything that needs to be fixed in an article. You’d be surprised how much needs to be changed before the article goes to the printers.  Send it back to Kim.
  • There are also many opportunities to write blog posts for the website and articles that will be printed in the magazine, as well as chances to talk to famous people like John Green (The Fault in Our Stars) and Jim Nabors (a.k.a. Gomer Pyle). He and I are now besties, and he told me to come find him at the Indy 500 so he can “put a face to my pretty voice.”

You can read Jessie’s excellent profile here: “I Stalked Jim Nabors.” 

Has this internship helped you figure out what you want to “be” when you graduate?

Not exactly, but it has helped open up quite a few options. This job involves a bit of everything: reading, writing, editing, interviewing, researching, marketing, and collaborating.

It made me confident that I could succeed at a similar job as a magazine editor, or do something else entirely like working in public relations.

Nothing helps you prepare for a career after college like working as an intern. First-hand experience is wonderful.

What courses at Ball State prepared you best? 

The Broken Plate is a wonderful way to get an introduction into editing and publishing. You get to put a literary magazine together with a class as well as work on individual publishing projects like printing your own book or making an ePub.

Cathy Day’s novel writing class will also help by showing you how important it is to get your words down on paper. After that first draft, you can always go back through and make it pretty, but the hard part is getting your great and crazy ideas from your head to the page.

If this internship sounds great to you, remember:

  1. Jessie earned credit for this internship: ENG 369 Professional Experience.
  2. If you’re interested in doing an internship for credit, check out this FAQ and make an appointment to talk with Prof. Cathy Day, Assistant Chair of the English Department.
  3. The Career Center in 220 Lucina also coordinates many internships.

Paid Internships Available for BSU Students at Midwest Writers Workshop 2014


Midwest Writers Workshop is offering eight paid internships to current Ball State students (or Spring 2014 graduates) so that you can professionally benefit from our summer workshop in July 2014.

MWW is an annual writers’ conference which gathers agents, editors, and publishing professionals, and which includes 35+ concurrent panels on the craft and business of writing, as well as agent pitch sessions, query critiques, and readings. Attendees range in age from 16 to 80 and come from all over the country. The conference will take place in Muncie July 24–26. Please visit www.midwestwriters.org to learn more about the conference.

Payment: 34 hours at $9.00/hr = $306.

Download the application here: MWW Internship Application

Application Deadline: 12:00 p.m., Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Tyler Fields: How Enhancing My Degree Paved the Road to New York City

In this post, Tyler Fields, the winner of our 2013 Outstanding Senior Award, describes how his experiences and his English degree at Ball State helped prepare him for the New York Arts Program and the three internships that he currently holds at D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers, Inc., at MAGGY Poetry Magazine, and at the Lauren Cerand publicity agency.

The memory is vague. My honors advisor is asking me what I think I’d like my major to be. “What are your interests?” she asks. This question seems a bit cavalier. After all, my answer could very realistically determine my future career or livelihood. I said, “books.” And with a click of her mouse, my advisor set into motion a series of events, called the Creative Writing Major, which would lead me to a number of opportunities and eventually several internships in New York City. For the next four years, many would ask the infamous question all humanities majors come to know so well: “What are you going to do with that major?” My answers would change over the years from, “I’d like to write,” to, “Maybe I’ll teach,” to, “I have no clue.” Now, as I am working at several internships in New York City and participating in the New York Arts Program, I realize that my Creative Writing degree from Ball State University is exactly what I needed to begin realizing my original desire to surround myself with books. It is because of the opportunities afforded by Ball State’s English Department that I now have a clear and confident reply to anyone who asks, “What are you going to do with that?”

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Anna Kate Hartwick Discusses Her Unique Summer Internship in L.A.

This past summer, Ball State undergraduate student Anna Kate Hartwick took her skills to LA for an internship at Rainn Wilson’s production company, SoulPancake, where she worked closely with the company’s employees and with celebrities featured in their videos.  In the following post, Anna describes her experiences and how her education as a Telecommunications major and Creative Writing minor helped her while there.

“How would I describe myself? Three words: hard working, alpha male, jackhammer…merciless…insatiable…” –Dwight Schrute

Photo Provided by Anna Kate Hartwick

*Photo Provided by Anna Kate Hartwick

When people ask me how I spent my summer, it’s easy to tell them I moved to Los Angeles and worked for a production company called SoulPancake. They giggle at the name, and ask what I did there. I try to summarize three months of grueling hard (but awesome) work in a few sentences. Then, I quickly wrap up the conversation and move along with my busy day.  Sometimes I tell them my boss was Rainn Wilson, and usually they don’t blink an eye. They sip their coffee, tell me they’re happy I made the leap to discover the wonders of Hollywood, congratulate me on all my hard work, and eventually forget we had the conversation. But, if I have a few moments to spare, I’ll speak in a language almost every television-lover in America will understand. “You know Dwight Schrute, from NBC’s The Office? Yeah… um… he was my boss.”

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Alumna Jessica Husek on Her Career in Advertising and an Internship Opportunity at Her Firm!

In our latest post, Ball State alumna Jessica Husek discusses how her interest in writing led her to a career as a copywriter at Miller Brooks, an Indianapolis advertising firm. She notes that, in addition to particular advertising skills, copywriters need to have strong creative and critical writing abilities. Continue below to read about Jessica’s experience at Miller Brooks as well as the firm’s exciting internship program.

It might not be your first thought when you’re thinking about what you’ll do with a writing/English degree. But I’ve found advertising to be a constantly challenging and equally rewarding way to flex my writing muscle. Continue reading