[Quick tragic, then not tragic, backstory]
After I graduated from college with my English degree, I had a tough time finding a writing related job. A really tough time. I felt incredibly defeated and discouraged. I’d like to think I worked hard in school, even got my bachelors. Was it all for nothing? Was I just going to become a another barista with a college degree?
I heard a lot of no’s. A lot of ‘sorry, you’re just not quite what we’re looking for’. I was under a lot of pressure at home to find something, anything at that point. Even finding a non-writing job never seemed to work out.
Then I heard a yes. Granted, a small yes. Unfortunately, an unpaid yes. But a yes, nonetheless. The dog was thrown a bone.
I got an internship for a website called MickeyBlog, a blog about everything Disney related. Seriously though, if your a Disney fiend like me, it’s a blog you should definitely check out. This site was connected to a larger company called MickeyTravels that plans free vacations to Disney theme parks. MickeyBlog, not only being a hide to all things Disney, was meant to boost traffic to MickeyTravels and convince people to book a trip to Disney park with them.
Me being a huge Disney fan, and thinking to myself “something is something”, I began to write articles for MickeyBlog. I wrote a couple articles a week, about 500-700 words a piece. Schedule was really flexible and I was working from home. Overall, a good experience.
The internship also lead me to a paid writing job. For that, I’m grateful.
(I’ll talk about my new job another day. And no, it’s not crazy, big money. But again, something is something.)
This isn’t business advice, or some statement on the job market. This is just my experience as a writer in a writing/blogging internship. (Although, i’ll admit, not being paid wasn’t ideal).
However, even though I wasn’t paid, it was still a rewarding experience and I grew as a writer because of it. It was my first step into a writing “career”.
This is what I learned from my internship with MickeyBlog.
It’s nice to have your name credited to something published. Even if it’s a small article or a short story. I wrote about 20 posts, all ranging from the best restaurants at Epcot to fun facts about Mickey Mouse. It was fulfilling to have my name tagged on an article as a writer. Be proud of the work that has your name on it. Every little bit helps in the long run.
The Work Experience
Meeting certain word counts. Learning about what is acceptable to post on a website/blog. Writing for a larger audience. Taking topics given to me and running with it. How to create eye-catching titles. These are just some of the things I learned about during my internship. What I learned is so valuable and important, especially for other job opportunities in the future.
Good For Resume and References
Writing for MickeyBlog allowed me to build up a writing portfolio. Providing blog posts and having articles published, I think, looks good on my resume. I had experience blogging on two different platforms. While I was still in the internship, I was still job hunting. And being able to send a link with all my articles was awesome, I never had to rummage for my old material. (If you’re interested, you can check them out). I really do think writing for the blogs, both MickeyBlog and this one, Lady Jabberwocky, helped me earn a paid position for another website. Also, I earned a great reference for future job prospects.
How to Sell
Part of the internship involved convincing readers to book a trip through the main, trip-planning website. I learned how to make things sound appealing to potential customers. Really paint the picture for them. I’m a writer, not a car salesmen, or a travel agent. But I used description to create an image. The image of an ideal Disney Vacation. Describing how magically delicious Disney food is or how one-in-a-lifetime activities are at a Disney Park. Stuff like that gets people’s imaginations going.
Maybe it’s the perfectionist in me, but I had to make sure everything I wrote about was accurate. Since most of my work involved writing about the Disney parks, and since I wasn’t traveling to the parks myself (which would have been so cool), I needed to do a lot of research. Cross reference with other blogs, check official Disney media, even peek at social media images from Disney fans. I had to be 100% sure there was such a thing as a Mickey shaped waffle (yes, they exist), or certain facts on films were true (Did you know Sebastian from the Little Mermaid was almost British?) or else I’d be misinforming readers.
Future authors, we have to start somewhere. That’s part of the reason why I started this blog, to put myself out there (as terrifying as that sounds). So, the unpaid internships and small writing gigs, they made lead to something a little better, like a medium sized writing gig.
For the writers for are having a hard time finding work that actually involves writing, It takes time, but “yes” does happen.
Write with Heart,
10 thoughts on “What I Learned From an Unpaid Writing Internship.”
Good for you! The internship did give you an upper hand in the job market. Keep going! I guess we all learn that writing is a journey not a destination!
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Hahahaa this started to sound like my life at the beginning there!
Holding a degree… sending out all these CV’s and resumes only to get a bunch of “we regret to inform you..”
My take away is that I’m gonna hear a lot of No’s before I hear a Yes. Then when I do it may not be what I’m looking for but don’t be so quick to turn down the opportunity 😉
It does sound like this internship experience allowed you to help hone your writing skills and the published work helped build your writing portfolio! This was VERY insightful, thanks again for sharing!
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