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Student Spotlight: Audrey Smith on the power of a good internship

May 1, 2024

Student Spotlight: Audrey Smith on the power of a good internship

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Audrey Smith, wearing a houndsooth blazer and smiling in front of a greenery-filled window

Like many English majors, Audrey Smith’s academic focus grew out of her love of both reading and writing, in and out of school. As she began her time at Ohio State, she knew that she wanted her eventual career to be related to that first love, and she chose to double-major in strategic communications and English to “develop knowledge and skills that would help me build a career in the publishing industry.” While that interest has never wavered across her time at Ohio State, the educational opportunities within the department, especially in the Minor in Professional Writing, showed her new possibilities within that broad field.

Smith first learned about the Minor in Professional Writing via a class visit from a program representative: “They heavily emphasized the practical benefits of gaining technical writing experience and the importance of strong writing skills in workplaces. I learned I could cross over a lot of classes I already completed for my English major to the minor requirements, so adding the minor—even though it was a bit later in my college career—was very doable.” The application process helped her to define her interests and abilities as she revised her writing samples and cover letter with the guidance of MPW staff, and she appreciated how, thanks to the extensive revision process, “my application felt refined and solid by end.”

After submitting her application and interviewing with potential worksites, Smith accepted a placement with The Ohio State University Press. Despite her longstanding interest in publishing, academic publishing was “an entire space I didn’t know existed before being in the minor.” Not only was the market segment new to her, but so were her job duties. Her primary responsibilities were to summarize books going through the publication process, and to write promotional tweets for OSUP’s academic journals. Each task posed challenges, and she recalls feeling underqualified: “I was reading and trying to summarize books and journal articles about complex topics that I didn’t always understand at first. As an English major, it was hard to admit I was having trouble with this.” She also had to adapt her writing to very particular requirements: “Academic journals appeal to very niche audiences with niche interests, so I had to write the content in a way that would grab their attention, connect with their interests, and also promote journals and its articles.”

A key feature of the Minor in Professional Writing’s internship, however, is ongoing support both within the department and at worksites. That support was transformative for Smith and her experience. She says, “My mentors (shoutout to Tara, Emily, and Elizabeth!) made my experience truly great. I routinely met with [them] to check in about what was good and what needed improvement on my projects. They took the time to demonstrate how to complete projects, check in on a regular basis, and offer feedback so I could improve.” That mentorship not only helped her navigate her first work-from-home professional experience, but also deepened her skills in writing and editing, with the detail-oriented proofreading of the internship leading to closer, more organized editing passes when revising essays and projects in her academic classes.

Audrey Smith stands smiling on a rooftop with the New York City skyline behind her

Smith also credits her academic work within the English major with giving her a solid footing from which to develop those skills. When summarizing Ohio State University Press titles, “clear, concise writing was very important,” and Smith found that “when describing a 200 plus page book in about 100 words, I had to be direct and ensure each word served a specific purpose.” Fortunately, she says, “My major concentration within writing, rhetoric, and literacy has taught me to do exactly that over the span of many years and courses.” Equally so, when writing promotional copy Smith drew on training within WRL classes to adjust her writing for scholarly and non-scholarly audiences as appropriate, making careful choices about “specifics [that] appealed to the respective audiences the most.”

When considering the lasting impact of her internship with OSUP, Smith reflects back on how much it deepened her interests: “Even though I’ve had a long-time interest in publishing, there’s always been a lot of mystery surrounding it and its processes, so I felt like I didn’t know much. As an intern, I felt like I got a cool behind-the-scenes look at publishing.” Smith graduates this Sunday at Ohio State’s 2024 Spring Commencement, but her internship will have a lasting effect beyond graduation: “Previous to my internship experience, I wasn’t even aware of academic publishing as a potential career path; I had only ever thought of trade publishing. Now, I am currently looking at post-grad jobs at university presses as a serious career option.” When asked if there was anything else she’d like to share, Smith emphasized, “I would highly encourage students to consider the MPW because you never know what will come of your internship!”

Congratulations to Audrey and to all our graduates!

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