Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures
Meet PWer Lauren Utykanski
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Lauren UtykanskiMeet Lauren Utykanski, a Professional Writing student in the Communities and Cultures track who is also minoring in Museum Studies. Lauren is interning here at WRAC, where she helps manage the department's social media platforms and writes content for the WRAC website.

Lauren didn't start out as a Professional Writing major. After transferring to Michigan State in the middle of her freshman year, she declared a major in Advertising. It wasn't until her parents saw a presentation on the Professional Writing program during a parent orientation and thought it might be a good fit for her that Lauren made an appointment to see a PW advisor and learn more about the major. She made the switch to PW soon after.

Lauren is now in her senior year, and in addition to working through her PW coursework she has also completed several writing-related internships. She landed her first internship with the College of Arts and Letters through WRA 210: Introduction to Web Authoring when an upper-level PW student came to class to tell students about the position. Despite feeling a bit unprepared, Lauren applied for the position and was hired as an intern for the CAL Education Technology and Innovations Team. There she worked in web development, helping transition the College's website from the Concrete3 content management system to Concrete5. She also helped manage websites for various CAL departments and worked with CAL faculty to set up Wordpress websites for their various projects.

"In my first internship I was a little nervous," Lauren recalls. "I didn't want to mess it up, and I was probably the youngest team member." Within the first week, she was meeting with department heads regularly while also learning her way around Concrete5 and Wordpress. "I got really good at talking to professionals," Lauren says. Lauren held this position for almost two years, becoming a valued member of her team.

Lauren's next internship was at MSU's Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) as the Environmental Education Intern during the summer of 2017. Her position focused on the long-term projects and goals of the W.K. Kellogg Manor House, a historic property that once belonged to W.K. Kellogg himself. The Manor House tasked Lauren with improving the visitor experience by creating various documents for visitors, relaunching the Estate tour, and updating the KBS history website. She worked to apply KBS's history and brand to each of these projects. As a final project, she created and presented a poster on her internship experience at the Kellogg Biological Station's undergraduate symposium in August 2017. At this event, other students at the station also share the experiences they had over the summer.

She also was able to complete a few credits by taking WRA 341: Environmental Writing, which will be offered at KBS again the summer of 2018. "I learned about current environmental issues, and different ways to write about them," she shares. "KBS is a unique opportunity for PW students, and the campus is a beautiful place to spend the summer," says Lauren. KBS recently released the new internship positions for summer 2018, which can be found on their website.

Lauren credits her PW faculty with helping her get connected to internships and succeed within them. "The faculty in PW are really awesome. They want to see us succeed and they'll help you look for opportunities," she says.

Lauren UtykanskiLauren's current position with WRAC has helped her further broaden her skill set. She is now managing social media and writes articles on a regular basis. One thing hasn't changed, though—she is still a highly valued member of her team. "Lauren contributes both technical knowledge and an enthusiasm for coming up with new ways to make the department's digital presence more visible," says Phil Bratta, the WRAC graduate student supervising Lauren.

Lauren admits that before she began her first internship the process was a little daunting. "I've been there, not even knowing where to start, looking at these PW seniors who are interning and working at the coolest places ever and not knowing how to get there," she says. Now that she's found success in several demanding internships, Lauren has some hard-won wisdom to pass along to fellow PWers seeking similar opportunities. "Just look for any opportunity and put yourself out there and it will happen. That's how I got my first internship. I did my best at the interview and was really honest about everything I wanted to learn. That got me my first internship, and that internship probably got me all of the other ones," she says.

Written by Maddy Marquardt
18 December 2017