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Successful Interns: Saxon McCullough

Here at the Weblog, we are producing a series of interviews featuring past interns in order to gain insight into what an internship through the English department offers. An internship is a great experience, and it also adds extra credentials to your résumé! To check out some departmental offerings, visit the English Department Internship page.

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This week’s spotlight is Saxon McCullough. Saxon graduated in December 2013 with a BA in English, concentrating on Professional Writing and Literature. Saxon was the intern for the Society for Values in Higher Education.

What internship did you do and what semester?

I was the fall 2013 intern for the Society for Values in Higher Education (the first ever!).

What kind of responsibilities did you have?

My supervisors were pretty open-minded from the start regarding what type of work responsibilities I would take on; they emphasized that I choose my intern tasks according to what kinds of skills I wanted to build for my future career. So, naturally, as a final-semester college student, I had no specific trajectory for my future career which is why I chose to develop a wide variety of skills including producing marketing materials and writing for the SVHE blog.

Why did you choose to do that particular internship?

I chose to apply for the SVHE internship because I was anxious to get my feet wet in the professional writing world. It was an invaluable experience having the opportunity to produce writing that benefited a professional organization’s vision and goals.


What did you expect going into it, and did it meet or surpass those expectations?

Since this was my first professional experience, I had initially envisioned myself toddling up to Cherry wearing heels and pencil skirts every day, working in a fast-paced environment where I was buried under 90 years’ worth of SVHE files, and using the phrase “let me check my planner” a lot. However, as the semester progressed, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was given plenty of flexibility with my class schedule, and Ms. McAllister was kind enough to provide a welcoming environment in which I was allowed to meet the society’s 90th anniversary project goals in a manner that was creatively and professionally fulfilling to me.

Do you think it was a beneficial experience?

My internship was definitely a beneficial experience. I gained many skills that I would not have otherwise had the opportunity to explore, particularly in the marketing field. One of my tasks for the semester was to redesign the SVHE logo and slogan and produce a calling card for future conferences. I also had the amazing opportunity to spend a few weeks immersed in the society files of Vincent Harding, Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech writer, after which I wrote a blog piece about his many contributions to the society.

Did you ever encounter situations that you didn’t know how to handle?

I guess one of the consequences of choosing to develop new professional skills is that I often felt as lost and anxious as an English major who is forced to venture out of Cherry to take a math class. However, I now realize how important it was for me to develop skills outside of my comfort; as I began the much anticipated, post-grad, big-girl job hunt I was very thankful for skills I had gained such as marketing and document design that set me apart from other job candidates.

What advice would you give to current or future interns?

My advice to other interns is to treat your internship as if it is an actual job—in terms of your level of discipline, dedication, and enthusiasm. This may sound obvious, but my internship proved to be the foundation of my future career; this solid foundation provided me with the confidence and support that I needed after graduation.

How are you using the skills you learned in your internship in present day?

I now work as a technical writer at KirkpatrickPrice, here in Bowling Green. I use the skills I developed through my internship with SVHE on a daily basis. Specifically, I utilize my understanding of producing audience-centered writing which was vital as I wrote blog pieces about the history of SVHE. When I started my internship I knew very little about SVHE so I had to really immerse myself in the society’s specific values, vision, and collective experience. After graduation, I found myself in the same situation because, believe it or not, I did not begin my job at KirkpatrickPrice with a reservoir of third-party auditing knowledge. Just like my internship, I once again evaluate what my audience/employer values and seeks to gain from my writing and then apply the skills I acquired in Cherry Hall.

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