Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Internship Spotlight: Ellen

Ellen sent us an update from Alternatives Journal in Waterloo, where she's doing her internship...

From Ellen:


    Four weeks ago, I started interning at Alternatives Journal, and so far I’ve found it a great fit given my wide-ranging interests.

    Based in Kitchener, Ontario, Alternatives is Canada’s oldest environmental magazine. Because the Alternatives team is a small one, each person – including me - is responsible for a range of tasks. In my short time here I have fact checked articles, taken subscriptions, written a short article, and other miscellaneous tasks. The bulk of my time, though, has been spent on this year’s edition of Alternatives’ annual Environmental Education Directory: a guide to Canadian universities for prospective undergraduate students.

    Having earned a biology degree and spent most of my career cleaning up after animals, working at a magazine is a big change. Fortunately some aspects of my background are also useful here.  Environment-focused courses and jobs have familiarized me with many of  the topics covered in the magazine. Also, my experience with university environmental programs and student organizations helps me when I’m interviewing faculty, staff, and students for the education directory: I know what information will interest the kind of student who reads Alternatives, so I know what questions to ask. My research skills are getting a workout, too!

    One part of the Science Communication program that has proven particularly useful is the Mass Media section on interviews. Even though my interviews are very informal and not recorded for the world to see or hear, it is still helpful to have had some experience writing good questions and guiding interviewees through the process. The journalism guest lectures and workshops also provided valuable insight into the world of science writing for a non-specialist audience.

    The friendly staff at Alternatives have made me feel at home my first month. Now I’m looking forward to whatever the next one has in store!


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