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Behind the Scenes of an Internship with the Chippewa Valley LGBTQ+ Community Center

| Anneka Shaver

Mac Olson

The work of UW Eau Claire English majors goes beyond the classroom. Each semester English students are not only hard at work in classes, but also in the community as writing interns, gaining professional experience in their fields whilst also benefitting local organizations. Senior English Linguistics major Mac Olson took advantage of the Internship in Writing program that the English department at Eau Claire offers and will have managed to complete both their service learning and an internship during their last semester before graduating in May. They have been hard at work since January as a writing intern for the Chippewa Valley LGBTQ+ Community Center which is a non-profit community safe space for LGBTQ+ people. It provides everything from a meeting area to support groups and other informational events. One event they put on to look forward to this summer is the Chippewa Valley Pride celebration, this year with the new location of Phoenix Park.

The project that has been keeping Mac busy this semester is the creation of a content guide aimed towards assisted living facilities that contains information on how to make facilities more open to LGBTQ+ inhabitants. Mac stated, “Right now it seems like this issue is not on the radar for lots of people, but people who are more open are getting older and once that shift starts to occur, this guide will be an informational resource for people who are seeking care from an organization for their LGBTQ+ family members, and for organizations themselves as they start considering how they can become more open. Our goal is to have a material, for those who are seeking it, that has all the information they need without distracting things.”

Usually working alone during their office hours at the center, Mac admitted to feeling a bit strange not being supervised at first, but quickly began to enjoy their routine of listening to Spotify whilst going back and forth between referencing an outdated guide that acted as a jumping-off point, researching on the computer, referencing the bank of resources already at the center, and typing their heart out. Mac had the opportunity to make their own contributions to the guide as well. As they began their work, they realized information on intersex people was not included. In the end, they were able to add the information in one page and enjoyed being able to contribute something new. Additionally, they remarked, “I like providing a new thought or perspective and then being able to implement it into some sort of document. Here, I get to practice the skills that I spent eight semesters developing, and get to hone in the perspectives that I gained from all the different types of classes that I took here. It all culminates to make a document that is very helpful to this organization.” While their position doesn’t require lots of meetings, they say they enjoy being able to touch base with their supervisor through regularly sending rough drafts of their work, his response usually along the lines of, “looks great, keep going.” Prior to the internship, Mac never considered sitting down and writing a whole manual, but this opportunity has inspired them to look for future jobs where there is more writing involved.

One of the many benefits of the English department’s Internship in Writing program is that interns get the opportunity to take an internship course which will further prepare them for a career in English. Mac cites that they find the class helpful because it keeps them focused. Their internship is at the start of the week and then they get to end the week with the class, it allows them to think about what they are going to be working on at their office hours the following week.

When asked about the most important thing to keep in mind as an intern they said, “You need to put 100 percent into each project, and need to be able to communicate, and put forth your best effort. What you produce has a purpose, it may not be for a grade, but it’s going to yield something, and you better do your best with it, because people are not going to get much out of what you create if it’s not your best work.” Overall, they remarked that they’ve enjoyed the process of thinking about how they can take the information and other skills and knowledge they have, and help spread that. For them it’s possible through making guides, talking about the fact that the center exists, and helping it get funding.

Mac will be finishing off their time here at Eau Claire this May with an English Linguistics major, Japanese minor, Transnational Asian studies certificate, and of course a very impressive internship experience to add to their resume.

You can find out more about The Chippewa Valley LGBTQ+ Community Center at their website www.cvlgbt.info/, and can get more information about the English Department Internship in Writing program on the UWEC English department website.