Skills Learned as Dual Major Used for Center for Poetry Internship

April is National Poetry Month, a time to celebrate the integral role poetry plays in our culture. As part of this celebration, we shine a spotlight on Claire Donohoe, a junior with a dual major in English and Professional and Public Writing, and the work she did while interning for Michigan State University’s Center for Poetry, which is housed within the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities (RCAH).

Claire Donohoe

Donohoe, who also has a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies, is now looking forward to working as an Undergraduate Writing Consultant for Michigan State University’s Writing Center. She will begin her work for the Writing Center in late April 2023. She worked for the Center for Poetry from September 2022 to April 2023 and recently shared her experiences as a Center for Poetry intern in the following Q&A, which originally was published by the College of Arts & Letters’ Excel Network.

What were the responsibilities of your internship?

Working remotely alongside a team of readers at MSU’s Center for Poetry, I reviewed poetry collection manuscripts for the Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Prize. For each manuscript, I completed an extensive note form discussing my understanding of the themes, voice, and flow of the piece, as well as a numerical rating. These forms were revisited during biweekly Zoom discussions, in which myself and the other readers met to discuss the manuscripts.

What did your daily routine include?

I would log in to the Teams page, access the next manuscript in line, read and review the manuscript, upload my notes form to the corresponding folder in Teams, and log my hours via The entire routine was done remotely and completely on my own time.

What skills did you learn and/or build upon during your internship?

Through this internship, I learned the importance of reading intentionally. The guidance of the note sheet was extremely helpful outside of the internship work as well. I am now more engaged in reading for other classes and keep a potential discussion in the back of my mind. Additionally, I built upon my communication skills by meeting with other readers to clearly explain my thoughts and opinions.

What did you learn about the industry as a result of the internship?

I learned so much about the importance of not only gathering findings but being able to communicate those thoughts to an audience/team as well. Communication is a huge part of the world of writing and affects all pockets of the field.

What was your favorite experience from the internship?

My favorite experience from the internship was the freedom of this work, both physically and creatively. The internship being online enabled me to work at my own pace and in relation to my own schedule as a student, and I had creative liberty in my form sheets to discuss my personal opinions on the manuscript. The community of readers was accepting and encouraging during our meetings, eager to make sure everyone’s voices were heard and to discuss something we all were passionate about.

How did you obtain your internship?

I heard about the internship through a friend in the Slam Poetry Club who had previously interned at the Center. I reached out to them for more details and went on to message the Center’s email I found online. From there, I set up an interview and was later granted access to the Teams page and additional resources.

What advice do you have for other students seeking internship opportunities?

There are so many opportunities for internships at MSU! Never did I think I would be able to intern for something related to poetry. I encourage students to take the risk and look to combine work with a hobby. Talk to people in your major, attend university-hosted career events, and don’t be afraid to send that initial email asking for more information. Your involvement on campus matters, and there really is something for everyone if you look!

What are your future plans?

I plan to go into professional writing, working with teams to edit, organize, and publish content to the public. Understanding your thoughts is only half the battle…you need to explain it in a way that others can relate to and understand.

Claire Donohoe interned with the Center for Poetry from September 2022 to April 2023.