By Angelina Zingariello
For my Fall 2021 JRN 489 internship, I did public relations for the Stony Brook Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) department. I wrote feature stories for the newsletter, ran the department’s Instagram account and wrote for its blog. For the newsletter, I interviewed WGSS alumna Suzanne Staub and wrote a feature story on the Queer Diagnosis podcast. Writing the story on the podcast was one of my favorite pieces I did this semester. It allowed me to conduct interviews and collect information and turn it into an informative story.
One of my biggest challenges was running the Instagram account. As the account has been inactive for some time, bringing it “back to life” was not easy. I was able to gain 20+ more followers, keep followers informed on events within the department/related departments and make posts/stories to keep followers engaged. My two advisors applauded how I was able to turn the page around.
This internship was a new learning experience for me. In this age, most of the other internship work I have done has been virtual. Having to go in for real-life meetings and managing my time around them was all new for me; I had to relearn time management. I also learned that I need to be more considerate of others’ time management. Conducting interviews and receiving no answer or feedback is stressful for any journalist, but I learned not to be overbearing to interviewees and to trust them to get back to me on their own time. That said, I wish I had known how hard getting interviews done in the time frame I hoped for could be, especially when working with students. I wish I didn’t put as much pressure on myself as I did when, in the end, there was no reason I should have.
To other students who are considering this internship, I recommend you do it. Gaining experience while getting credit for it is beneficial for all aspects of your educational career. But I would only recommend this if you are ready for a serious commitment and the challenges that come with it. Working for legitimate organizations is stressful. They depend on you to get this work done. It is different from an assignment for class where it is flexible and the consequences affect only you. Most of the work you will do is not flexible, and the consequences will not only affect you but also the organization as a whole. It is scary to have that pressure on you as a student, but this is how a real job functions. Getting this experience beforehand will benefit you in your future career.
Additionally, I recommend finding an internship in a field you are interested in. When I saw the internship for the WGSS department was available, I immediately applied. I always had an interest in WGSS topics inside and outside of my education. Working in this field was not only informative but enjoyable for me at the same time. It is definitely easier working on topics you have a passion for.
Throughout the semester, this internship has been a highlight. This is my first semester at Stony Brook, and having this internship made the transition easier. I was able to connect with professors across different departments and especially professors within the journalism department. This made me more comfortable here when I was originally nervous on how this semester would go. I am excited to continue this internship into the spring semester and continue/finish projects that we had in mind for this semester.