By Emma Kumer
Emma Kumer is a junior double-majoring in Journalism and Creative Writing through the Medill School of Journalism with a certificate in design.
Describe your summer internship.
This past summer, I was responsible for finding primary sources for various historical topics on Encyclopedia Britannica‘s educational database. I looked through diary entries from World War I, confidential letters from the Cold War, and drafts of treaties. Every day was something different, from the Seven Years’ War to The Seminoles to Simon Cowell.
Explain how you learned about the opportunity. What resources were especially helpful in your internship search?
I actually found this opportunity through MedillLink (now Handshake)! I applied to more internships than I can count (it was probably close to 60), but it was really important for me to find one that was both paid AND in Chicago.
What did you enjoy most about the experience?
The summer before last I worked twenty minutes from my house in Wisconsin, so commuting downtown from Evanston to Chicago every day was a new experience! I absolutely loved working in such a bright, busy city – exploring the area on my lunch breaks was an unanticipated perk. Our office even took all the interns on a boat ride down the Chicago River for the Fourth of July, which was one of my favorite experiences. Other good ones include reading John Wilkes Booth’s diary (who knew he was such a good writer?) and leafing through hundreds of pages from the Official History of the Bay of Pigs Invasion… with notes from the CIA scribbled in the margins!
What is the biggest takeaway from your internship?
I had to do a lot of digging on the Internet to find sources that were available for use, but I’m now a self-proclaimed Public Domain expert. There are so many resources out there that are available for anyone to re-purpose and reuse… you just have to know where to find them. While working with rights and permissions isn’t the most exciting job in the world, I’m no longer scared to try and find images or documents to supplement the work I produce. This definitely would have come in handy when I was taking Media Law and Ethics!
What advice do you have for students pursuing internships that will help them be most successful?
Get to know your coworkers! As an intern, it can be sort of daunting to talk to the adults in the office — especially if they’ve been working there 18 years and you’ve been working there 18 days. I made an effort to be friendly with my desk neighbors all summer, and it definitely paid off: when I mentioned I was going on a Medill trip to Japan at the end of the summer, my coworkers gave me a stack of books and TONS of incredible advice! At the end of the summer, I also gave handwritten thank-you notes to my bosses and coworkers as well, including my non-work email, so we could stay in touch. I think people really appreciate the little things… and it’s always nice to know you have people to reach back out to in the future!