Hundreds of Sonoma State students complete fulfilling internships every semester. And happily Spring 2020 is no different.
“Students and organizations alike have shown incredible flexibility in pivoting to the virtual realm,” said Hillary Homzie, Coordinator for A&H internships and lecturer in Communications. The overwhelming majority of our partner organizations are continuing to host interns virtually this spring. This contrasts with some of the statistics nationally coming from The Institute of Student Employers (ISE) which reports that 55% of employers expect to cancel work experience and insight opportunities altogether.
According to Homzie, Arts & Humanities interns at SSU are thriving. She says that students are remotely interning for organizations all over the country, from the Smithsonian Institution based in Washington D.C. to LibriVox audio books, where volunteers live in all fifty states. Students are continuing to intern for local and regional organizations, including departments at SSU.
Homzie says that having remote interns has been especially helpful for the A&H Internship Office. “My interns Sara Lynn and Carly Olsen have been working in concert with the Center for Community Engagement to reach out to community partners to find out their current needs in this COVID-19 impacted environment,” she said. Carly has helped me out by doing research and Sara took on interviewing interns for this article. Most of all, Homzie says the pair have enjoyed reaching out to non-profits to find out their current needs, which will result in future internships for SSU students.
“I’ve had dozens of conversations with employers who are extremely impressed with our students’ creativity and resilience,” she added. In the coming semesters, Homzie said she fully expects that A&H students will continue to work in a variety of fields, including everything from book publishing, non-profit management, social media strategy and sports journalism.
Meet just a few of our A&H interns who are enjoying their remote internship positions.
Communications and Media Studies major Emily Sherratt, a senior, has been interning for the Dominic Foppoli mayoral campaign. Foppoli, who has an MBA from SSU in Wine Business, is running for re-election of Windsor. Sherratt is responsible for the campaigns social media platforms and is getting first hand experience of what a crisis is like in government. “With the current Coronavirus pandemic, it has created a new way for me to get involved with our social media,” said Sherratt. “It is important for the public to see that the mayor is being proactive, and connecting with his community. “
Sherratt has gained a new perspective of public relations and has found her internship to be a valuable learning opportunity. “My favorite thing about my internship is that I'm gaining hands- on experience, and seeing everything that goes into running a successful campaign.”
Some advice Sherratt has to offer other students looking for internships is to not be afraid to reach out to people in your chosen career field. “Making connections is one of the best ways to hear of opportunities,” she said. “For example, I was introduced to Mayor Dominic Foppoli through a mutual connection, which ultimately led to my internship position.”
While during the beginning of quarantine presented some focus challenges, Sherratt happily figured out a schedule that keeps her productive. And ultimately, the internship is still giving her “the experience I want and need.”
Communications and Media Studies Major Lela Perivolaris, a senior, is interning for Bracketraces.com, an organization that hosts professional drag races all over the United States. The company was founded in 2010 by Kyle Seipel and Peter Biondo who decided to take their love of the sport of drag racing to the next level by “putting on a big buck bracket race of their own.”
Lela shared that her responsibilities are to “curate social media posts, analyze social media metrics, and produce promotional graphics and materials.” She stated that because her assignments only require a computer, her duties have not changed and that her supervisors have been extremely accommodating.
At first, Perivolari worried her workload would alter but soon discovered her responsibilities didn't change. “They still have the same amount of work for me. I feel great about my responsibilities,” she said.
English Major Noelle Dahl, a senior, is currently interning at the publishing company Cameron & Co. The publisher’s main focus is art and photography, as well as children’s books. In 2009, Cameron & Co. moved from San Francisco to Petaluma where they enjoy a national reputation for their fine art and picture books.
Dahl's role is to help with editing and research books before they are published. “I also enjoy brainstorming meetings where I feel like my ideas are actually being taken into account,” she said. “I have some personal favorites with projects that I’ve been editing. Overall, the internship has been very helpful and effective.”
Dahl’s ambitions also include becoming a published author and attending law school. While The Covid-19 quarantine means missing out on the intimate collegial environment of the publishing house, she has been able to make arrangements over the phone to receive projects to edit remotely. While at first the semester felt like a roller coaster, her internship has been given her a valuable window into the inner workings of publishing. “It has definitely taught me a lot about the publishing industry and the ins and outs of working as an editor for a smaller company.”
Communications and Media Studies Major Giulia Chlarson, a senior, easily transitioned to becoming a remote intern for REVEL Brand Design. REVEL helps other companies build their image. Chlarson says she was drawn to REVEL because she liked their dynamic website.
“I found it very sleek and pleasing to look at so I was more interested to go deeper in their site,” she explained. “When I learned about what clients they represent, I recognized a few--Straus Family Creamery, La Tortilla Factory, Paradise Ridge Winery--and instantly reached out to apply for a position.”
Chlarson has particularly enjoyed the collegial work environment. “This company is very female-dominant,” she added, “which is awesome for me to experience.”
Due to the Coronavirus quarantine she has had to work remotely from her home in Southern California. “Working from home is weird for me, but my dad used to work from home for 14 years so I kind of got to see how he managed his time and work ethic, which helped me understand how to do so during this time.”
Chlarson offered this counsel to students looking for remote internships. “The best piece of advice I can give is to keep up with your projects by using a planner or alerts on your device because it is easy to procrastinate and forget about them,” she said. “I constantly check my email for updates and information, but the 'I'll do it later' mentality is easy to fall into, so stay organized!”
Overall, this remote experience has been so positive that Chlarson says, “it has given me inspiration to reach higher in the career field.”
While the landscape has changed, according to Homzie, the request for SSU interns is still robust. Remote internships are in hot demand, and Arts & Humanities students have stepped up to the plate.