Friday, June 22, 2007

How & Why I Found Interns: My Frugal Internship Program

Flexo of Consumerism Commentary noticed that I have a new intern, who wrote a recent Tuesday Tips piece for me. Flexo inquired about the intern. Here's the scoop on my informal, but frugal internship program.

Help Wanted! For the following reasons, I began recruiting interns:

1. Book project: I've been writing a book, with a July 15 due date and a May 2008 publication date. Between the blog posts, a part-time teaching gig, newspaper/freelance print assignments, family & bills, I needed to budget my time.

An intern, I've found, is great for researching my weekly Tuesday Tips segment on my blog. This option frees up a bit of time.

2. My hands, elbows, & etc. Quite frankly, my digits and arms sometimes ache from assorted writing activities.

Remedies: ice packs, wrist splints, yoga, PT exercises. Later this summer, I will take a two-week sabbatical from typing. (HINT: I'M PITCHING FOR GUEST WRITERS!! Please). I'm also going to check out voice-activated writing software. Another writer has promised to walk me through a program that he uses and highly recommends.

With an intern, contributing to the Tuesday Tips feature, my hands receive extra rest.

3. Teaching: I like to share information & skills with students. I think writing is a valuable craft that has become undervalued in our society. Also, I have become a better writer by teaching. This same philosophy applies to my children.

My oldest son (a high school student) is also helping with a research project this summer. Our work together is mutually beneficial. I've also been teaching my younger children how to conduct interviews. They've been assigned to interview family members for one of my projects.

These activities keep their brains sizzling during the summer months.

How I found interns:

1. High School students
2. My children
3. College students: I thought of looking for journalism students from local universities or colleges. (I haven't tried this option yet). When and if I go this route, I will contact different writing programs in Southern Florida.

The System:

1. The List: For my son, I have typed out very specific instructions. For example, I needed research about 529 college savings plans. I walked him through the information on the Florida prepaid plan and then told him to look for other sites.

I gave my other intern, a tour of my blog and the type of tips I seek. We communicate via email and phone.

2. Flexibility: I try to find a variety of assignments that suit an intern's interests, time and talents.

3. Edit and fact check. Interns are requested to provide contact and resource info. I check the links and quickly review research material to make sure that everything is kosher by ethical and professional standards.

4. Review corrections, edits or re-writes. To clarify and instruct, I try to explain why I make changes in their stories. It's another win-win.

5. Praise and correct and praise. Positive and constructive feedback is important.

6. Production: Under deadline guidelines, information is submitted to me via e-mail or in a Word file. I handle all inputs onto my blog or manuscripts.

7. I listen: Maya Jaffe, the Tuesday Tip intern had valuable suggestions. Likewise, my son Tali has made insightful comments about the data we have collected and has re-designed a few charts for me. He's even edited my word choice on graphs. For me, it's a well-time lesson in humility.


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