Monday, September 16, 2013

Internship Spotlight: Ben Williamson


My name is Ben and I want to write about science, but I didn't always know it. I didn't even know for sure when I flew to Sudbury to be in the 2012-2013 SciComm class. Luckily, having to hunt for internships has a marvellous concentrating effect on the mind, and I realised my true calling with many hours to spare.
So, with a few scrappy articles from local newspapers, a barren CV, and a smile, I applied to get some experience in the writing business. Alternatives Journal was extraordinarily compassionate to my cause and I put my life on a bus to Kitchener.
There, I researched, fact-checked and, upon completion of the latter activity, entered the witness protection program. Fact-checking, you see, involves inspecting every clause, figure and contextualization for accuracy. The goal is to protect the author and magazine from saying something regrettable, but I took frequent excursions across the line of pedantic nit-picking.
I also got to write. Eric, the editor, put enormous trust in me and gave me assignments that fit me perfectly. These were challengingI had no experience writing narratives; structuring  long pieces to flow and keep interest; cold calling people for comments; conducting, recording and transcribing interviews or really much of anything that has to do with science journalism.
Throughout, Eric mentored and advised, and I learned many skills I'll need. I learned one more thing when I handed in the articles: how important a good editor is. He helped turn my clunky and bloated piece into a focussed story.
The statistics for a certain type of internships are pretty depressing. They can be of no benefit for finding a job. I didn't jump straight into full time work either, but I did become qualified for the jobs I want, and I made contributions that I'm very proud of.
Ben Williamson, Science Communication Graduate 2013

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