Public and Professional Writing (PPW) students who have questions about internships should contact Brenda Whitney, the internship coordinator for the English Department. If you are looking for your first internship experience, Brenda 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 10–15 hours per week to the internships. They are expected to perform as reliable and responsible professionals.
We also recommend that you register for Handshake, which is the University's comprehensive career services platform. They have a large internship database. They also provide career fairs, networking events, and on-campus interview information.
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 are majoring in PPW or 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, arrangements can be made to allow you to complete ENGCMP 1900 online).
How do I get registered for a PPW internship?
- First, read the requirements and guidelines for all English department internships.
- Email internship coordinator Brenda Whitney. She can answer your questions, tell you when the internship class (ENGCMP 1900) will meet, and may even be able to suggest sites that are looking for good interns.
- Select potential internship sites by using our searchable internship database or other information sources.
- Contact potential sites to find out how they want you to apply for an internship. Some sites may want to interview you.
- 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.
- Give the learning agreement to Brenda, who will then register you for the credits, using ENGCMP 1900 Internship in PPW.
Are PPW students eligible for financial assistance?
Yes. Several endowments provide grants for Pitt undergraduates pursuing various internships. Awards are given on a competitive basis to provide grants for internships and support for living expenses for out-of-town internships. For more details and an application for funding, please visit the English Department internship page.
What do students say about their internship experiences?
“[The internship class] will provide you with necessary skills that will not be developed in other classes. …An understanding of the professional world (both corporate and nonprofit) equips you to move forward in your academic and professional career with the assurance that you will be able to handle any situation you may encounter. In addition to these benefits, I appreciated having a space dedicated to the discussion of potential issues with my internship. The environment of this class is laid back and supportive; take advantage of the other interns’ experiences and advice, because you will be each other’s support system.” Taia M. Pandolfi, The Bulletin
“The internship features your real-world work experiences, networking opportunities, and the ability to show employers that you can balance a full workload and class schedule. On the flip side, your internship class acts as your area to learn where you can improve as an intern and polish all of the most vital skills that employers expect you to have once you enter the working world.” Graham Nagy, LarsonO’Brien Marketing
“You’ll be introduced to insightful readings that make you reflect on your own goals and soon you’ll find yourself planning out your dreams to become realities. Don’t sell yourself short….What you do in the classroom should also reflect that work ethic you display at your internship site.” John J. Gonoude, Pittsburgh Penguins
“My biggest piece of advice for you as an intern is to establish yourself among your superiors as a reliable and credible worker. Show your supervisors that you are proactive, that you can be creative, but maintain the voice of your company, and especially that you can be flexible in any environment, with any project. Ask plenty of questions, learn as much as you can about your company, and make yourself known." Natalie Generalovich, Pitt Athletics Media Relations Department
“Class is very helpful for learning how to navigate the professional writing world both before and after you get hired. After attending class, reading the course materials, and completing assignments, I now have a cover letter, traditional and scannable resume, curriculum vitae (fancy teacher resume), internship journal and employment portfolio. Having these in hand will save you a lot of hysterics on graduation day….By the end of class, you will have clear answers to all of your questions about interviews, resumes, cover letters and office etiquette. If you make it to the last class, you will also have cookies.” Jennifer Swanson, The Young Turks
“As an intern, you have a great opportunity to not only learn new employable skills but also to assess what work environment best suits (or doesn’t suit) your personality.” Eliza Shearer, Global Studies Center
“The experience you gain at this internship will open doors to more internships. Build strong relationships at your current internship and maintain your network as you grow. Stay in touch because some day you might need help from one of the people you’re meeting now. Finally, learn as much as you can.” Kate Miltenberger, Pitt’s Office of Institutional Advancement
“I found communication to be the most important aspect of work. Otherwise, no one finished anything. I struggled my first month because I feared asking others if they needed help; however, I soon grew bored and stepped out of my comfort zone to find out that everyone needed help.” John Moorhead, Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation
“The internship class provides some of the most valuable information you will receive in college….the class serves as a great platform for all internship and job-related questions….This experience gave me just what I needed to start into the field of science writing upon graduation, merging my neuroscience major with my writing certificate.” Kylie Wolfe, Pitt Med Magazine
“Interning is one of the greatest decisions I ever made in my college career. Not only did I gain experience in the professional writing field, but also I learned about myself as a writer and as a prospective employee…In my most recent interviews at home, I took our professor’s advice and typed a list of questions to bring along. Not only did I feel more prepared, but I looked it too….So often we portray the job search as something out of our control, but I no longer view it that way. I feel more confident reaching out to employers and [marketing] my skills with effectiveness.” Sarah Petsis, Make-A-Wish
“Don’t be afraid to ask for more work, to write something you feel passionate about, for more guidance, or networking opportunities. Asking questions shows that you care….[The] class and the course packet should give you the confidence you need to enter the professional world. From advice, personality tests, and resume and cover letter examples, to interviewing tips, the course packet will be your bible.” Rebecca Nagy, Harvey Klinger Inc. Publishing
“The internship I had was about learning what goes on in a public relations firm but, like any internship, it was also about learning what I enjoyed and didn’t enjoy about a workplace environment.” Cara Calwell, WordWrite Communications
“Whether you decide to make a hard-copy or online [employment] portfolio, take this opportunity to really create a piece of yourself and your talents to share with future employers. Rarely do you get the opportunity in class to create a project that will continue to be useful years after graduation.” Lauren Bauschard, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
“During class, you will voice your concerns and issues. You will figure out your ideal workplace and career goals. The readings offer advice on everything from cover letters to the job hunt to the interview. This course offers everything you need to confidently enter the professional world.” Sarah Meyers, Maniac Magazine
“Do not just wait around for them to tell you what you should do, but show them everything you can do. Do not just do what you have been assigned, but think of ways in which you could help the company or your coworkers overall. Think big and be creative. Take on every task that is given to you and complete it with pride. Try to make connections with everyone you come in contact with. Willingness, dedication and a positive attitude will get you a lot farther and might even help your chances of getting hired with the company full-time.” Samantha Hietsch, Active Cities