English internship program celebrates five years

By William Watson
Staff Writer

The Department of English held a celebration for the its internship program on Wednesday at the Argonaut Athletic Club.

“We started the internship program in the English Department five years ago,” said Regina Sakalarios-Rogers, instructor and coordinator of the Department of English internship program, “and with the help of our community partners have been able to grow the program much more quickly than I expected. I wanted to do something to thank the businesses and organizations that have been part of our program. It also seemed like a great way to give students curious about the program the opportunity to meet some of the representatives of these businesses and organizations.”

Hamishe Randall, a welcomed guest of the Department of English, smiling along with her parents and a close family friend. Credit: William Watson

This is the first time the department has done this event. “Initially, five students worked with me in internships to help form the program in a way that would make it attractive and beneficial to students in our department,” Sakalarios-Rogers said. “Indigo River Publishing, Ballinger Publishing and Gulf Coast Kids House were the first internship sites available to students, and the great opportunities and mentoring they each offered were more important in helping me make the program successful. They, and the many other sites we have added over the years, have helped us to continue the successful growth of the program.” The program offers new sites every semester.

The event started with a greeting from Gregory Tomso, chair of the Department of English. “We are slowly, quietly, and powerfully building an internship to bring community friends and faculty together,” Tomso said. “This means more to me than I can express. I have known students through the internship program, and it changed their lives. I have heard very real and very moving stories.”

During the event each of the continuing community partners was presented with certificates of appreciation. Hamishe Randall, a UWF graduate who is currently mentoring the student interns at Indigo River Publishing was the keynote speaker. Randall was asked to speak, Sakalarios-Rogers said, because as a Communication Arts major she interned at Ballinger Publishing. “Hamishe can speak to both sides of the importance and benefits of internship programs, especially since her intern experience gave her the insights she needed to go out and secure her position at Indigo River,” Sakalarios-Rogers said.

Randall stood up with a mop in her hand and put a bucket on her head while approaching the podium. “You might be wondering why I have a bucket and mop. Well, it’s not on any syllabus,” Randall said. “College is spelled out in a syllabus, and you are told what you will need for grading and evaluations. Basically, everything is spelled out for you and the classes are designed on ‘how to succeed’ in said class.”

However, “The world doesn’t give you a syllabus,” she continued. “You can get a job description and even on-the-job training, but what do you do when, all of a sudden, you are expected to thrive without a syllabus? Enter the internship,” said Randall. “You can use skills you’ve acquired for the real world and you are given that experience. Will be you be at the bottom of the totem pole? Yes. However, the bottom of a business is essential to every corporation. If you are going to be successful, you’ll have to work for it and bite off more than you can chew. If you embrace the bottom, you will have confidence and humility to thrive at the top.”

Hunter Brown, a welcomed guest of the Department of English, smiling and posing with a wine cabinet as his backdrop. Credit: William Watson

Randall gave an analogy of a fancy restaurant in which the floors and bathrooms are filthy. “It doesn’t matter how fancy the restaurant — nobody wants a filthy bathroom,” Randall said. “You think the business owners will clean them? Well, they should, because it is their house, too.

“If you can’t do the dirty work, you don’t deserve to be the boss. I am still learning to this day that not everything is in the syllabus. However, in a career, you’ll have to do more than comply with the syllabus; you must compete. At that point, you won’t need a syllabus.”

Pamela Meyers, assistant coordinator and instructor of English, said, “An internship is a required element and really helps set students apart. Our program is established to help, and it teaches students who might be having a hard time getting out of their heads. By that, students can feel comfortable in analyzing the text and appeal to readers. They stop looking from their perspectives and instead from the reader’s perspective.”

Hunter Brown, instructional designer, then presented a slideshow and talked about his internship experience. “I was an English major from 2012-15 and had the opportunity to participate in many areas. I was even a developer at one point,” Brown said. “I began my internship by May 2015 and participated in six full-length manuscripts. My main job was to assess, outline and proofread manuscripts, but I had the opportunity to interact with the authors of those manuscripts.

“It might sound like a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun. The editors were all very friendly and accommodating, and I appreciated the atmosphere from the space and guidance provided,” Brown said. “However, like most seniors, I was initially apprehensive. The skills I gained from my internship gave me the confidence I needed.”

At the end of the event, time was allotted for students to ask the faculty or community partners about internship opportunities.

For more information regarding the internship program and community partners, visit the official UWF page for the Writing and Editing Internship program.