March 20, 2009 by Kristina McDonald
I always figured that the ideal summer internship would be challenging, educational, worthwhile, and relevant to my career goals. And truth be told, after spending countless hours in high school and college filing papers, organizing archives, editing reports, and finding other ways to give myself paper cuts, I had decided that my happy internship vision didn’t exist.
That is, until the summer I discovered Writers in the Schools.
I was finishing my sophomore year in college when a professor referred me to the WITS website. A month later, I became one of the first interns for their Summer Creative Writing Workshops, a unique and highly rated summer program that teaches the joys of creative writing to Houston area children grades K-12. I spent three weeks assisting with classroom instruction and activities, escorting classes to museum field trips, and interacting with students, teachers, writers, artists, administrators, and parents.
Here’s how the internship scored on my checklist:
Challenging? Check. Working at a summer camp full of energetic and creative young students will certainly keep you on your toes.
Educational? Check. Since I was interested in teaching but still nervous about my classroom management skills, I was happy to discover the chance to soak in classroom experience without having the full pressure of managing the students. Even better, I found myself working with a group of passionate and highly creative teachers and writers, all of whom were more than willing to share ideas and advice with me. I even got an inside look at the non-profit world.
Worthwhile? Check check. As a teaching assistant, I often found myself working one-on-one with the students. I found this particularly rewarding when I helped a Korean boy learn how to transfer his creativity and his vocal energy into the written word. When the classes celebrated their achievements as writers at their end of the camp readings, I couldn’t help but also feel a sense of accomplishment at their growth. I could see that the parents felt proud and thankful, and I walked away feeling like I had made a difference in my community.
Relevant to my career goals? I was thrilled to find such an inspired mix of my interests in writing, education, and community service. In fact, I fell in love with WITS so much that I am now working for them, so this also receives a huge check mark.
In the end, the internship exceeded my standards. The experience was not only valuable but it was also quite fun. What’s more, I discovered that my energy and enthusiasm for writing was reinvigorated. Churning out eight page analytical reports on John Donne sonnets had made me forget why I became an English major in the first place. Seeing the delight on a young girl’s face while she read a poem about how much she loves her father reminded me how much I love the creative process of writing. Like the students, I left the camp with a feeling of personal growth and excitement about picking up a pen and paper when I got home.
By Kristina McDonald
2006 Summer Creative Writing Workshop Intern
Current WITS Office Manager
WITS is now accepting applications for their summer 2009 internships. The deadline is Wednesday, April 1st. Visit our website for more details.
[photo by Alex Gilbert of WITS]