undergraduate section

Internships

Public and Professional Writing (PPW) students who have questions about internships should contact Pam O’Brien, the PPW internship coordinator. If you are looking for your first internship experience, Pam can suggest especially good ones, given your interests.

PPW internships are distinct from many other internships offered at the University in that they are designed to focus closely on the theory and practice of writing, and they involve a significant intellectual exploration of the Public and Professional Writing internship experience.

When we establish internship agreements with agencies and companies, we tell them that we expect PPW interns to spend at least 50 percent of their time on the job writing. In addition to their on-site work, PPW interns keep a journal, prepare a major project about their experience, attend a weekly class, and prepare a speech and letter. Students commit a minimum of 10–12 hours per week to the internships. They are expected to perform as reliable and responsible professionals.

For the academic component of the internship, students typically register for ENGCMP 1900, which meets once a week. Students who have already taken the internship class or who have a schedule conflict can work instead with a faculty sponsor or Writing Center consultant.

What will I learn as I complete a PPW internship?

On site, you can expect to have a productive, substantive writing experience in which you learn from and contribute to the sponsoring agency, company, or project.

Through your work at Pitt in ENGCMP 1900 Internship in PPW, you will learn more about theoretical, social, or historical issues of writing in public and professional environments. Importantly, the internship class also offers you opportunities to clarify your career plans, prepare for a job search, and explore what leads to success on the job.

Who is eligible for PPW internships?

PPW internships are available only to students who have been accepted into the PPW Certificate program. Internships are offered during fall, spring, and summer terms (if you have an out-of-town internship, special arrangements can be made to allow you to complete ENGCMP 1900).

How do I get registered for a PPW internship?

  1. First, read the requirements and guidelines for all English department internships.
  2. Email PPW internship coordinator Pam O'Brien. She can answer your questions, tell you when the internship class will meet, and may even be able to suggest sites that are looking for good interns.
  3. Select potential internship sites by using the English Department’s internship guide or other information sources.
  4. Contact potential sites to find out how they want you to apply for an internship. Some sites may want to interview you.
  5. When you have found a site that has agreed to accept you as an intern, download and complete your learning agreement, which spells out your responsibilities on the job and at school.
  6. Give the learning agreement to Pam, who will then register you for the credits, using ENGCMP 1900 Internship in PPW.

Are PPW students eligible for Heinz Endowments funding?

Yes. The Heinz Endowments provide grants for Pitt undergraduates pursuing various media and film-related internships. Awards are given on a competitive basis. Candidates must be Pitt English majors or PPW Certificate students, the internships must be writing-based, and they must be acquired before submitting the completed application. Political internships do not qualify for funding because of federal policies for nonprofit agencies. The University stipulates that students cannot be employed by Pitt while receiving stipends for internships. For more details and an application for Heinz Endowments funding, please visit the English Department internship page.

If you have more questions about PPW internships, email Pam O'Brien.

Recent PPW Intern Stories

Stephanie Grant turned her internship into a paying job—and a full-time job after graduation. Here are her thoughts on her experience: "My writing internship was the most valuable experience that I had during my time at the University of Pittsburgh. I worked as a marketing intern at an accounting firm in downtown Pittsburgh. I think it’s important to note that I was neither a marketing major nor an accounting major. I was earning a degree in political science and a certificate in public and professional writing. By accepting this internship I was taking a chance, but I am so glad that I did. By the end of my internship the firm offered me a full-time position.

"My internship succeeded because I used the information that I learned in my other classes at Pitt to help me stand out at the office. If I had just mastered a new trick in Photoshop or a unique writing technique, I made sure to use that skill in my assignments at the accounting firm.  By doing this, I got the most out of my education and my internship site constantly received new material to use. 

"If you would have asked me two years ago what I thought I would be doing with my life, my response never would have included the word “accounting.” But here I am, working at a job that I love, getting paid a generous salary, and learning transferable skills every day—and it’s all because I said “yes” to a writing internship at Pitt."

Tyler Pecyna reflects on his internship experiences: "At the start of the semester, I felt concerned about overloading my schedule. My agenda already featured an internship with Pittsburgh Sports Report, an editor position at The Pitt News and 15 credits. Then I received word about an internship opening on the sports copy desk at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which I applied for and received. After adjusting my schedule to make all the classes and extracurriculars fit, I settled into a nice groove, in which one aspect seemed to consistently complement another. I not only gained an appreciation for a stricter sense of time management, but also found a way to mend the different angles of this education.

"Improving writing simply comes by reading and writing, so that increased exposure benefited my coursework. The editing, style and reporting tips I picked up through my internships naturally crept into the writing I completed for classes.

"My internship with Pittsburgh Sports Report led me to the PNC Park press box, where I momentarily accomplished a lifelong goal of covering the Pittsburgh Pirates. That opportunity hopefully provided me a glimpse of my future as a sports journalist/beat writer. Now as I prepare for the last semester of my college career, I can contently look back at this fall and recognize it as my most productive term to date—all because I capitalized on nearly every available opportunity to further my development as a writing major."