Saturday, August 27, 2011

Intern Introspection

The summer is rapidly coming to a close, and I'm already prepping to go back to Madison for the start of classes. Hurricane Irene has put a damper on my flight plans so I'm stuck in New Jersey for two extra days but it isn't going to be much of a summer addition considering we might very well blow, or float, away. Before the summer is officially packed away, I wanted to do some reflecting on my summer internship experience writing for Geekosystem.

One of the best and worst things about writing for Geekosystem was that I worked as a real writer. I knew ahead of time that the internship was unpaid, but still when you are doing the work of a regular employee it gets a little frustrating to just watch your bank account drain despite how hard you work. Doing all the work and not getting paid was a pretty big bummer. For the summer it ended up costing me $819 for train tickets on NJ Transit, plus about $20 a week in Metrocards. I kept my job freelancing as a medical copywriter, so I worked nights doing that to keep up with the cost of New York City. I also had a lot of help from my parents, I was living at home and eating their food and getting other financial help which is really what made the internship possible.

Still, the experience also had value because I was working as a real writer. Working as a writer was rewarding and frustrating. I struggled a lot with pitching posts and getting them accepted. Geekosystem does science, tech, video games, and internet culture. Science is only a fraction of the content, so it makes it really difficult to get a science post accepted. It has to be a science post that is going to get a lot of traffic, and it can be hard to tell what is going to be big. I was surprised a lot by posts that didn't get the traffic I thought they would (both too much and too little). There was a lot of reward from seeing a post get picked up by GoogleNews so when I did come up with a post that made it big (I had a few) it was a great feeling.

I can't say my writing is all that much better for having done the internship, but I'd like to think I didn't start off that bad. I think the internship helped me polish my style with things like comma usage, punctuation, and occasionally sentence structure. More than writing I think I learned some important lessons in working with an editor and the business side of being a writer. Internships in general have a lot of value if you go after the experience you really need. I wish I had been more adamant about learning the tech beat and doing more multimedia. You need to know what you are getting yourself into with an internship and really weigh the costs and benefits before deciding if it is right for you.

I'm happy to have had the experience of working for Geekosystem because it helped me narrow my focus as far as what I'd like to do professionally. I don't think I want to be a blogger for profit, but I still love having a blog and being able to give my point of view in a space that is my own. I'm even more excited now to head back to Madison to finish up my degree so I can get out there and find a job.

If you don't follow this blog regularly and you'd like to know more about my work with Geekosystem check out my science posts from Geek Roundups I, II, and III, and here are the posts from my last few days:

Researchers Create The First Living Nanowire From Bacteria
Researchers Announce Successful Clinical Trial Of Gene Therapy Treatment For Leukemia
Pregnant Fossil Is First Evidence That Plesiosaurs Gave Birth To Live Young
This Is What The Perseid Meteor Shower Sounds Like
Study: Benedict Arnold Bacteria Betray Their Brethren, Go On Killing Spree
Electronic Sensors Stick Like Temporary Tattoos, Present Endless Possibilities
Primitive Eel Species Described As "Living Fossil" Discovered
NASA Debunks Comet Elenin Rumors, No Armageddon Here
The Moon May Be Millions Of Years Younger Than Previously Thought
For The Love Of Bud, Marijuana Genome Sequenced

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