Written by Annie Dubois, B.A. Professional and Public Writing, Class of 2021, Content Studio Intern 2018-2021
Like most incoming first-year students, when I arrived at MSU to move into my Bailey Hall dorm room, I was nervous, homesick, and overwhelmed. I’m not ashamed to admit I shed a few tears at Noodles & Company as I ate lunch with my family before they left to go back home without me. A new chapter was ahead of me, and the blank pages were daunting.
I was a Journalism major when I came to MSU, but that quickly changed. During parent orientation, my mom heard Danielle DeVoss, then Interim Chair of the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures (WRAC), speak about the Professional and Public Writing program and thought it would be the perfect fit for me. As an obstinate young adult, I was determined to stick to Journalism, but I wavered and enrolled in a P2W course with Associate Professor Kristin Arola. Thankfully I let go of my stubbornness, as this class single-handedly changed my trajectory at MSU.
The class was spectacular. It was an accurate foretelling of what the P2W program would continue to offer me — collaboration, portfolio projects, and creativity. Professor Arola was approachable and passionate about the work we were doing, which would be the case for every other professor in the program as well.
In the class, I happened to sit at a four-top table with Caroline Johnson, another P2W alumna and former College of Arts & Letters’ Content Studio intern. She told me about a writing and social media internship opening at the Content Studio and I decided to apply.
It was early spring 2018 and I was invited for an interview with Ryan Kilcoyne, CAL’s Marketing Director. I dressed in my best professional outfit — gingham pants and a black turtleneck — and took the CATA bus to Linton Hall. Two weeks later, shortly before my first year at MSU was over, I was offered the internship with a start date of September 2018.
It would be an understatement to say that my three years with the Content Studio have been life-changing. I have always considered myself a storyteller, and my journals full of short stories and scribblings dating back to elementary school serve as proof. The hang up for me always involved how my passion for writing could be applied in the real world. My internship at the Content Studio was a welcomed answer to my dilemma.
Although I used to write fiction as a teenager, my time with the Content Studio spurred the realization that the real magic I wanted my writing to focus on was within other people. Their life stories evoke a compelling mix of humility, relatability, and inspiration. Their experiences offer reflections to our own lives.
The best part of my job has been interviewing a wide array of students, faculty, and alumni and amplifying their work. I’ve talked to cake decorators production designers brilliant Ph.D. students, and mural artists… the list goes on. Oftentimes, after a particularly compelling interview, I would contemplate about how lucky I was to have a job that didn’t really feel like work.
I never imagined that my love for writing could be applied in a way that was both practical and personally rewarding, and that I would have incredible mentors to help me actualize my goals. Every supervisor in the Content Studio has been dedicated to helping student interns grow professionally and connecting with us on a personal level. It’s really no surprise that I stuck around for three years.
As I look back on my nervous sophomore self on the first day of my internship, I almost don’t recognize her. So much has happened within those three years. I’ve taken two other internships, worked with a professor on two separate projects, and studied abroad in England. Each experience has allowed me to discover more about myself and what I want out of life.
As a part of the Digital Humanities program, I studied abroad in London and Scotland in summer 2019. This trip cracked open my fascination with the world of digital humanities, particularly as it pertains to surveillance capitalism and big data. We visited with various faculty members from universities like King’s College and the London School of Economics and learned about digital humanities as an emerging industry. Thanks to this trip, I decided to complete a minor in Digital Humanities and I’m now applying to graduate schools in the U.K.
When I came back from my study abroad trip, I was eager to soak up new opportunities. I worked with Ben Lauren, Associate Professor in WRAC, on two separate projects pertaining to music marketing and production. These experiences helped me practice my skills in brand development, project management, and public relations. Like other faculty members in the College of Arts & Letters, Ben collaborated with me not just as a student but as a professional and made me feel like my voice mattered. It meant the world to me that he believed in my potential and gave me room to grow.
As I got closer to completing my degree, I decided to expand my writing capabilities and took a grant writing course in the P2W program with Joyce Meier, Associate Professor in WRAC. This course would later serve as a foundation for my internship at the Michigan Health Information Network (MIHIN) as a Technical Business Writer. During my time at MIHIN, I worked closely with proposals that the nonprofit was submitting and scouted for new funding opportunities. This experience made me a more well-rounded writer and opened my eyes to career possibilities in the nonprofit sector.
After a year of working for MIHIN, I found myself missing the editorial aspects of writing, so I shifted back to what I knew I loved — interviewing and editorial writing. In January 2021, I started a communications internship for MSU’s Office of the Provost. This position was similar to my work with the College of Arts & Letters, but I was reporting on a larger scale within the university. Unfortunately, I was completely online for this internship, but I was still able to complete fun, in-person video projects with my supervisor, Greg Teachout. Greg was a wonderful mentor — he helped me grow as a professional and bolstered my self-confidence as a writer.
Throughout my time at MSU and in the College of Arts & Letters, I’ve been met with nothing but compassion, excitement, and intrigue from each mentor I’ve had the honor of working with. I came into college with the expectation that I would take classes, earn my degree, and get a job — that would be the end of it. What I got instead were rich opportunities for growth, a community of people who saw my potential and invested in it, and relationships that shaped me into who I am today. Of course, a college degree is valuable, but it is only as valuable as the people who help you get to the finish line.