All posts by Hannah Thurston

Your Work and Your Passion

I’ve never blogged before, but sometimes I feel like that’s just what I’m doing through this internship. My personal, introspective posts written for the internship page are of course more blog-like than the informational or publicity pieces I put up on the department website. Either way, the writing has done me some good.

I’ve heard it said before that making your passion into a career is not the most sage advice. You may cease to enjoy the passion if you make it into work. As an English major, I’ve noticed this trend. The time I had previously allotted in my life for pleasure reading has greatly shrunk. So has time for writing. It’s difficult to prioritize extra time for the activities when I spend the majority of my hours outside of class completing reading and writing assignments. And sometimes, my eyes just get tired.

This internship has reminded me why I thought writing was so much fun as a child. I always had a passion for it. Teachers did not have to ask me twice to enter a writing contest, and I often sought out more on my own. In college and the latter years of high school, that fervor waned. I was all wrote-out. I thought working on academic instead of creative writing would aid me more in my future career, mostly writing critical theory and research papers. In fact, I can only think of two fiction pieces that I’ve authored since coming to Stetson.

But there’s good news! My internship with the Creative Arts department has been a chance to explore my creativity once again. Though the work is still in the non-fiction realm, I’ve been given the freedom to explore different structural styles and perspectives. I’ve found myself writing more in my spare time, just for fun once again. I’ve been reminded of an integral part of myself, and for that, I’m grateful.

Graduation Brain

I never particularly liked the term “senioritis”. To me, it implies a sort of lackadaisical behavior, as if a senior has determined the last month or two of the final semester simply doesn’t matter. I have found myself experience a different set of feelings as graduation draws nearer, and for the purposes of this web post, I’ll call it graduation brain.

Between trying to keep up with the normal daily to-dos of a student and trying to plan post-graduation life (where to live, on what funds, working or more school), time gets stretched even thinner than usual. What I have discovered is not an urge to ignore my classes and responsibilities, but a difficulty jumping between my here-and-now mindset and my graduation mindset. I must go from signing leases for my next apartment on Sunday to studying for my business law exam on Monday. I’m starting to realize why some students take a gap year after their undergraduate graduation to figure things out.

Just a month is left before I will have officially finished my degree. Right now, that means working hard to ensure that my “graduation brain” doesn’t overpower my here-and-now brain. I’m not feeling the tug of senioritis as I work to finish the last weeks of my classes, internship, and job, but I certainly see the distractions of having to plan the future. In response, I am recognizing that “graduation brain” and keeping it in check.

Overlap

This past week, I was at my desk in the English department’s office for my work study job when a professor came in and asked me if I’d heard back from any law schools. As the writer of one of my law school recommendation letters, he’s heard plenty about my future plans and what the last year has been like for me going through the LSAC application process. While I was updating him, Dr. Terri Witek overheard and added how much need there is for lawyers working on copyright law in the realm of literature and art.

I am planning to pursue a concentration in patent/intellectual property law, so this was right up my alley. While copyright law is in the general vicinity of patent law, the latter is much more technologically involved, and so I hadn’t given much consideration to what it would look like to work with copyrights. Part of the appeal of being a lawyer, though, is that you are able to dabble in different areas of the law. As an English major, I have a invested interest in literature. Spending the two semesters as a web intern for the Creative Arts department has also given me a greater appreciation for the arts.

It’s exciting to see the ways my interests could overlap in the future. My heritage in aerospace and passion for problem-solving is what has driven me to pursue patent law, but there are other interests I thought I would be putting aside in my future career. I assumed my more artistic interests would become hobbies I had to make time for when I could. Looking forward, the possibility of my English major and internship experiences influencing some of my career choices seems like more of a possibility, and it’s a brighter horizon because of it.

 

Looking Back, Moving Forward

Today marks exactly fifty days until May 12, the day of  my graduation commencement ceremony. In a few hours, I will pick up my cap and gown. This also means that my year as a web intern with the Creative Arts department will soon come to an end, and it’s time to start looking forward.

Part of my work as the first year-long web intern has been to develop a schedule that details some of the reoccurring events about which future interns will also need to post: award ceremonies, contests announcements, Winter Break hours, and the like. This is advantageous in that there is no need to spend time every year deciding what needs to be posted when, so both the intern and the supervisors may benefit. I have found myself benefitting from this task as well.

Two semesters worth of projects, exhibitions, interviews, plays, and workshops have to be reviewed in order for me to create a comprehensive schedule of web posts. Therefore, this task has had an introspective nature, allowing me to consider my internship in its many pieces. I’ve interacted with people from all four disciplines falling under the umbrella of Creative Arts in a variety of ways, and my approach to web posts has changed over the year. Slowly, I was able to focus on adding in different features like links to outside websites, photos about the content , and excerpted quotes.

I hope that in the future, other interns modify the schedule of posts. My experience is just that: mine. It is a singular example of what can be done in this position. What I have encountered and learned may be similar to that of the next intern, but it will by no means be identical. For one thing, he or she will start the internship with a different set of skills and a unique perspective. Therefore, they will only be able to add to what I leave behind. I hope to come across the Creative Arts website a year from now and smile at how my successors have improved upon the work I once did.

A Diverse Education

This week, I am working on an article whose subject is this year’s senior exhibition. I have done several past articles discussing the new art and artists going up in the Hand Art Center, but this is the first time the artists have been fellow students.

Coming into this web intern position as an English major has been a particularly rewarding opportunity because nearly every one I meet on campus through the work is someone I would not have met otherwise. I doubt I would have ever stepped foot in the HAC if not for this internship; not because I lack an appreciation of art, but because in the busyness of classes I failed to make it a priority. In this past semester I have visited the gallery several times and plan to do so again.

I recently spoke with a very successful federal prosecutor, asking him for advice as I grow continually closer to beginning my law career. One of his suggestions for the three years of law school was to diversify how summers and breaks were spent. Just like an undergrad, law students should use their summers to complete internships or other learning opportunities to build connections in their chosen field and build experience. The man I spoke with suggested doing the internships in different areas: maybe one in probate, one in health law, one in tax.

Why do something else instead of continuing to build a stronger network in the field you know? He explained it like this: “One of two things can happen, and both are good. You will either be affirmed in knowing that what you thought you wanted to do is the right way to go, or you will find a greater passion for something else that you would have otherwise missed.”

My internship has allowed me to do just that as an undergrad, seeing a different side of the  education Stetson offers and, in small ways, being a part of it. I’ve received my first lesson here, and it will not be lost on me as I graduate and take on the next challenge.

 

Before You Forget

This past week, I learned another one of those best practices for the professional world that I will likely be carrying with me after graduation. Less to do with my work as a web intern, this lesson is applicable in every field.

I am currently applying to a few summer internships at NASA, and amongst the busyness of mid-semester assignments and post-graduation preparation, the application slipped from my main focus. I asked my faculty supervisor and on-site facilitator for a recommendation letter, but not until two weeks before it was due—much later than I normally would ask. Laura Glander, my facilitator, had a copy of a something like a performance appraisal for me from the prior semester I had interned. With some adjustments, they were able to send in a letter for me despite the time crunch.

Dr. Wolek, my faculty supervisor, explained to me the common practice of keeping such letters saved at the end of an internship or job. These recommendations are naturally easier to write before too much time has passed and the details of a student or worker begin to fade in one’s mind. that way, if an intern e-mails his or her internship director six months after they’ve left the experience, one’s not scraping the bottom of their memory to pull out some descriptions.

I will be keeping this in mind as I move forward into my career, both for future internships I may have and for the possibility of me one day facilitating an internship.

Trial Errors

Chances are that when you try something for the first time, you will learn from mistakes how to adjust your approach for the second try. After all, it’s practice (not first attempts) that makes perfect. When trying out a new approach for the profile features on the CREA website, I had to learn this lesson again.

The profiles have been very helpful due to their simplicity: a few basic questions set up in a Q&A structure. They can be e-mailed out with little fuss so the common issue of lining up two schedules does not become a problem, and viola! Add a photo and there’s a quick, on-deck post waiting to be published.  It’s almost too easy.

There was one pitfall. People tended to be brief in e-mails, and thus less content was present than would be garnered through an in-person interview. So I took the cue from my supervisor and conducted the most recent profile face-to-face. Asking the same questions, I received much lengthier answers just as we’d wanted.

However, I ran into a new problem. When speaking out loud, an individual can’t revise their words as one would with a written document like an e-mail. My most recent interviewee contacted me almost immediately after his profile went up, concerned that some of the word choice he’d made when speaking didn’t read as he’d meant it. Lesson learned: send a draft to the interviewer before publishing. This is a practice Dr. Wolek said was practiced by journalists. I suppose I had to learn from my first shot, but now I have the right approach for my next try.

Busy times at Stetson University

Hopefully, it was clear that my title is playing off of Fast Times at Ridgemont High. But if not, it certainly is now.

It is the fifth week of the semester, which means the time for ‘beginning’ has passed. Deadlines in nearly all of my classes are fast approaching, whether it be for a research project or essay. Interacting with those around me, it’s clear that my schedule is not the only one in a tumultuous state. Both professors and students are facing a demanding part of the semester.

So what do I do when much of my internships requires the time of these busy people? Go where they are. It certainly saves me time to send out a few e-mails and find content for my next post in my inbox, but I’ve had to spend more time recently meeting with people in person, catching them in their spare moments.

In-person interviews naturally take up more of my time, but I’m learning that adapting to different circumstances is what makes a good employee (or student, or intern). If I ignore the need to take that extra step, my tasks simply won’t be accomplished. The responsibility is on my side, to make the extra effort. This is a lesson I hope to carry to work I do in the future, at law school and beyond.

It is always easier to blame the outside factor: he didn’t respond to my e-mail or she wasn’t available during her office hours. I always want to be an individual who goes above and beyond, even when it might mean sacrificing some extra time on these busy days.

My First Lesson in Programming

At a recent internship meeting, during that pre-business chat that occurs when you first sit down in the morning, Laura Glander mentioned how her father writes his books in Microsoft Word instead of the programs preferred by publishing companies. As an English major, this subject fell more into my field of knowledge than ceramics or stage lighting, right? Not quite.
I find the publishing world extremely interesting, and if I weren’t heading to law school after graduation, I would likely have aimed for a job in the industry. Despite that interest, I know little of the technical side. My knowledge lies more in the formatting and editing expertise.

The morning conversation at our internship meeting turned into a lesson on different softwares and the computer programming that’s in play behind the scenes. This was news to me as both a computer user and a writer. It helped me understand the issues that can be present in the more common and “user-friendly” software programs like Microsoft Word. I had encountered such issues myself, like having random percentage signs and backslashes appear when I copy and pasted a text. I had not understood the error behind the problem before.

I will never be a computer programmer, but I am grateful that through this internship I can learn about some of the behind-the-scenes systems at play in the world around me. And who knows! If I’m drawn back to publishing some day, there could be much more learning to come.

Common Threads in Unexpected Places

Last week, I meet with artist Jessica Rath so I could write a feature on her exhibition, A Better Nectar, currently being displayed at the Hand Art Center. Interviews are always interesting as I have the opportunity to ask someone about their work. I had been looking forward to this one for the same reason, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that Rath and I had more to discuss than my pre-typed questions.

A Better Nectar is inspired by the idea of seeing the world through a bee’s eyes. Rath spent time studying bees and their environments while working on the exhibition, and she believes strongly in taking individual responsibility to care for other species. She has even altered her plans for the future so that she can spend three months out of the year restoring her family’s farm.

While discussing this, I mentioned my own family’s farming experience. My grandfather inherited an orange grove that has been run by my relatives for roughly sixty years. It is now the last orange grove in the Floridian town I am from, where citrus used to be a thriving business. The dwindling number of farmers is greatly connected to the introduction of citrus greening, a disease transferred by small insects that prevents fruit from fully ripening. The oranges are left watery, soft, and bitter-tasting from the disease.

Rath then discussed permaculture with me, explaining how she researched the flora that bees were attracted to. There is a small wasp that eats the insects spreading citrus greening, and she advised me that planting the types of greenery that attracted the wasps could be beneficial.

I did not expect such an interview to go past friendly conversation. Now I’ve learned not to limit my interactions to the expectations I may have beforehand.