What I Gained By Having an Internship During the Semester

After spending several weeks at home for winter break reflecting on my fall semester, I’ve come to the conclusion that the past semester was one punctuated by surprises. From forming deep friendships with previous acquaintances to declaring my majors (truly a feat, if you consider how undecided I was less than a year ago), I surprised myself by embracing new opportunities. Perhaps the most notable opportunity I embraced last semester was my internship at Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism, a nonprofit publication of the Visual Studies Workshop in downtown Rochester.

At the beginning of the semester, in the newness of August and September, the notion of an internship was relegated to some future to-do list, something I’d complete over the following summer. However, one September evening spent socializing, I learned about a friend’s recently acquired internship at an arts magazine called Afterimage. Her excitement about the opportunity was contagious, and the next day we spoke in greater detail about what the position entailed—checking articles for factual accuracy, performing copyediting, assisting in publicity endeavors, and more. The work, though at the internship level, seemed meaningful. My friend gave me the contact information of Afterimage’s assistant editor, and after several emails that culminated in a phone interview, I was also hired as an editorial intern.

The week interim between being hired and starting work allowed ample time for doubt to seep in. I had started the fall semester hoping to avoid spreading myself too thin. At that point in the semester, between classes, student government, work at the athletic center, and sorority functions, I was at an ideal level of involvement—one where I felt engaged, yet enjoyed plenty of leisure time. I worried that the addition of ten hours a week spent off campus at an internship would threaten my grades, my time, or even my mental health.

The reality of my internship undeniably created additional time constraints, but overall, I was able to gain valuable experiences and lessons that made the sacrifices entirely worthwhile.

Transportation and experiencing Rochester
Working for Afterimage also meant spending multiple hours each week traveling to its office in the Visual Studies Workshop. Since I don’t have my own car on campus, I took advantage of the University shuttles that run various routes downtown—the orange line, which I frequented, stopped at an intersection about a five-minute walk away from VSW. The shuttle offered a convenient, accessible mode of transportation, but it also meant that my travel time to and from the office cost me about an hour total. The additional time spent away from completing school work sometimes created stress, and rushing to catch the bus certainly heightened anxiety periodically. Ultimately, though, I came to appreciate the calming nature of riding the bus and experiencing different sections of Rochester through a comfortable, warm vantage point. By the end of my internship, I felt far more familiar with downtown Rochester and different neighborhoods than I had before, which translated into being able to show friends exciting new shops and restaurants. Besides, time constraints taught me to allocate time more efficiently, and my grades and study habits improved as a result.

Connections to classes and increased knowledge and awareness
One of my favorite facets of working for Afterimage was studying and researching articles by scholars, theorists, and cultural critics. Each article, from featured essays to exhibition reviews, provided an analysis of the role of some particular aspect of media arts in a global and cultural context. Engagement in such articles introduced me to fundamental concepts of media arts, nominal works, periods, and artists, and fostered my appreciation for media arts. Sometimes, an artist or concept discussed in an Afterimage piece would appear in a reading for a class, and such connections felt invigorating and fulfilling. The knowledge I gained from these articles manifested themselves in the real world as well—for example, visiting art museums is a more interactive process now, as I can—to an extent—identify different themes, periods, and concepts. Engaging with such articles on an editorial scale—meaning that I made grammatical and stylistic changes to their content—also sharpened my skills as an aspiring writer and scholar.

Professional experience and contributing to a community
A major component and purpose of completing any internship is gaining relevant professional experience to deepen one’s résumé and aid a future career search. Luckily, I’m confident that my three months with Afterimage accomplished both tasks, as I am now sure of my interest in publishing, editing, writing, and cultural criticism on an international level. My internship opened my eyes to a world of potential careers—further work in the publishing and editing industries, librarianship, academia, independent writing, and more. The hands-on fact-checking and copyediting I completed for Afterimage will surely provide a valuable basis for success in future internships and careers, and the addition of these skills to my résumé will likely help me to secure such future internships and careers.

Not only did I have a meaningful experience, I felt that I was able to contribute to a community of scholars and critics that I admired and respected. My contributions to Afterimage and its daily functions and operations were a way for me to begin to leave my small mark on the world of nonprofit, scholarly magazines.

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Though I had not planned on completing an internship during the semester, I’m proud of myself for embracing the challenge of additional time constraints and embarking on a new opportunity. My internship translated into a supplemented academic experience, personal and professional growth, and an increased participation in scholarship and appreciation for arts, nonprofits, and cultural criticism.

About the author

Natalie Ziegler

Hello! I'm a member of the Class of 2018, and I study anthropology and comparative literature. Within my comparative literature, I study fiction and creative writing, as well as gender studies. I spend most of my time on campus studying in the beautiful Rush Rhees Library, but I can also be found at various Students' Association Government functions, at work in the gym or the Department of Rare Books, cohosting an online radio show for WRUR The Sting, or relaxing with friends. I enjoy exploring Rochester's neighborhoods and its downtown, and I love newspapers, biking, and reading.

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  • Congratulations! The busier you are, the more you get done!!! You are receiving practical lessons in time management not taught in a class room. Setting priorities that you VALUE versus an appointment / to do list is creating opportunities for self actualization. Doing what is important not the urgent is creating good choice decisions and habits.
    Carpe Diem!

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