“What are you going to do with an English major?” It is the question after I tell someone I am studying English. An English major has become synonymous with teaching English or becoming a writer, but there are so many more opportunities out there for English majors that fit the skill sets we have developed through our university education. As an English Critical Studies major, my internship at the University of Wisconsin-Extension, Cooperative Extension offers me the unique opportunity to enrich my classroom education through skills I would not have developed otherwise.
There are Cooperative Extension programs across the nation that are partnered with land-grant institutions with the purpose of transforming lives and communities through research and education. Cooperative Extension leads programs like 4-H and focuses on family, agriculture and education, and provides access to university resources to over 1.5 million people in Wisconsin alone, across the 72 counties and three tribal nations.
My internship has given me the perspective to see how my soft skills, like communication and critical analysis, which I have gained from my English major, pair with hard skills, like graphic design, research and editing. I have had the opportunity to develop and enrich these skills in a professional setting through the creation of a poster series highlighting the organization's vision, research and literature synthesis on management, communication with underserved populations and the formatting, writing and editing of an internal newsletter.
The one surprising thing about my internship is how meaningful my connection with my site supervisor, Catherine Emanuelle, has become. Catherine is a UW-Eau Claire alum who graduated in 2011. I regard her as a mentor, as she has fostered my skills and confidence in myself as a professional. She has shown me how important it is to dedicate yourself to the work you are doing and serves as a model of using compassion, open communication, and feminist practices in all you do.
Additionally, the course ENGL 498: Internship in Writing is required for all students who intern through the English Department. In this course, I have had the opportunity to work through content offered by Career Services here on campus, like workshopping resume and cover letters, utilizing LinkedIn, and understanding how my skills, values, and interests intersect to manifest in a job best suited to all parts of me. I also have the opportunity at the end of the semester to create a portfolio of the work I have done at my internship to present to future employers. Furthermore, I have found so much value in being surrounded by other students who are in the same stages of their education as me, and are also coming to understand the job market and their own skills through their internships.
Overall, ENGL 498 and this internship have given me the confidence I need to realize the quantity and quality of skills the English program here at UW-Eau Claire has given me and how to market myself and my skills to a future employer. After graduation, I hope to get a job as an editor at a publishing company or continue at Cooperative Extension if the opportunity presents itself. However, I know wherever I go, my English department internship gives me the relevant experiences I need to stand out in the job market among other well-qualified candidates.
You can find more information on UW-Extension, Cooperative Extension on their website, http://www.uwex.edu/cooperative-extension and more information on the English department internships on the English department website, https://www.uwec.edu/academics/college-arts-sciences/departments-programs/english/.