The following blog post was written by Katherine Haines, a final year Arcadia Student, regarding her experiences on our Virtual Europe Internship Program. For more of Katherine's writing and photography check out her website.
I felt a little hesitation when beginning a virtual internship. While doing an internship virtually requires you to re-imagine what an internship looks like, you still get all the benefits and sometimes even more than you would have in-person. I was required to complete an internship in the fall of my senior year, so I looked at the Virtual Europe Internships as a unique way to gain experience. Working at a virtual internship opens you up to any location in the world by taking out the travel requirements, and keeps you safe in your own space. As a senior in my degree program, I would not have been able to study abroad in Scotland in order to work with INSP, but because the program was virtual I was able to get the experience. At INSP I worked closely with staff members, and my internship focused mainly on content and editing. I also learned that much more goes into the managing of a news service organization than just writing and editing articles.
The International Network of Street Papers (INSP) is a news service organization that supports street paper social enterprises. They help to coordinate and enhance communication between all of the different member street paper groups so that their content can be shared around the world. Street papers are magazines or newspapers that promote independent and quality journalism, but also provide a source of income for people who are experiencing poverty. Many of these street papers write their own content to print and sell, but as a member of INSP, they also have the option to take any content published on the main news service and run those articles in their street papers as well. The articles can be translated into many different languages and distributed all over the world through the INSP network. As an NGO, INSP focuses on social issues and news in topics like climate change, poverty, homelessness, but they also get the opportunity to interview some prominent people.
Over the course of the semester, I learned how to edit articles for a specific audience. It was important to know who would be reading them, what would be interesting to them, and how to get their attention in the first place with things like titles and abstracts. An even more unique specific skill that I learned was how to edit translated articles. Not only do you have to edit the article for the audience, but often with translated articles they have to be read closer to make sure that grammar, sentence structure, and word choice are correct.
I also made Twitter posts for World Homelessness Day and did work for their end of the year wrap-ups. One list highlighted quotes from important interviews, another a wrap up of important articles, as well as a huge document of links to street papers that had COVID-19 emergency donation sites set up, or places where you could subscribe to their street paper online.
My largest task was writing and researching a feature article to get published on INSP’s news service, to be made available around the world. In addition to the editorial work, INSP likes their interns to get experience in the whole process of publishing an article from doing the research, completing interviews, writing the article, and going through the editorial process. I spent most of the semester preparing and writing the article as I scheduled many interviews to provide background. The article focused on the connections between food waste, homelessness, and Covid-19 and featured interviews from three experts in food recovery organizations. Now the article is published on their website, and has been picked up by street papers in Seattle, Portland, and even Japan.
The most difficult part of my internship was learning how to work virtually. It required me to set a schedule and make myself sit down and focus during those times. It also required me to work harder to connect with my co-workers. I focused on getting to know my supervisor by taking time to ask him about himself, his life in Scotland, and his career. We talked about politics and differences in Covid-19 restrictions, but also music, movies, and other interests.
In the end though, having the experience of a virtual internship is incredibly marketable since many jobs are moving to work from home models, and it’s a chance to demonstrate that you can adapt to this. The virtual format of the internship may have been a challenge, but it also allowed me to connect with an amazing organization with really cool people and gain an invaluable experience in content and editorial work.