Imagine you’ve just spent the last four months searching for a publishing internship. You’re frustrated because you’ve written what feels like hundreds of cover letters and received nothing but negative news. You didn’t even get that Barnes & Noble job you applied for in your darkest, most desperate hour.
Maybe you didn’t have to extend your disbelief too far to understand the above situation—positions in the English world seem few and far between and never quite right. At least, that’s how I felt after months of searching for publishing, editorial, and creative writing internships. My luck didn’t change until my roommate, weary of my melodramatic complaints, encouraged me to search “nature writing.” Under new criteria, I found a position with Global Treks and Adventures. Moral of the story: Shifting perspective and getting creative with wording makes a difference.
Now imagine you’ve found your perfect internship. It involves traveling, researching, developing a portfolio, publishing your work, experiencing other cultures, and learning about the publishing industry—but the internship’s in Iceland. And let’s be real, it’s not paid. Actually, you have to pay them.
When I received the position of Creative Writing Intern for Global Treks’s expedition to southwestern Iceland, I needed $3,000. As a senior in college working part-time in the university’s writing center, $3,000 was going to take a small miracle. My school and the organization had no money to offer me and I’d resolved not to take out a loan. Once again, I had to get creative. I won a $1,100 scholarship for a Shakespeare paper I’d written, but that was hardly enough. My real victory came from securing Sigma Tau Delta’s Summer Internship Stipend. This generosity allowed me to participate in a life-changing internship for less than $400.
The month before my expedition, I rigorously researched Icelandic culture—my contribution to a travel guide to be published after research in Reykjavík—but nothing prepared me for what I would learn in the land of fire and ice. As local historians showed me the city, I developed an insatiable appetite for the literature that had shaped the island’s history. Who the Icelanders are and how they relate to the nature around them is so intimately tied with the poetry that prompted their politics, the mythology that sculpted their memories, and the folklore that fueled their imaginations.
Two interviews solidified my desire to combine my love for human nature and my reverence for the power of literature. In one, I found myself—a 5’2″ woman from Tennessee—across an ocean talking to a large, middle-aged Icelandic man about our mutual passions for poetry, the natural world, and the spell-binding quality of language. A similar experience with the director of a cultural museum left me full of passion for preserving the country’s literary traditions by educating the public. Traveling to Iceland for this internship gave me a deeper appreciation for world literature and allowed me to understand my desire to enhance and preserve culture through the written word. A quote from my favorite book, The Once and Future King, by T. H. White summarizes the adventure appropriately: “Education is experience, and the essence of experience is self-reliance.”
To know ourselves and how we may best use our skills to serve our communities and promote our passions, we must seek opportunities that allow us to learn from strangers and experience discomfort. So, when you keep hitting that wall between you and your goals, get creative. When you find your dream, but it’s in Iceland, tell your parents you’re going. Put down the book (for a moment) and pick up the pen.
Sigma Tau Delta Summer Internship Stipend
Sigma Tau Delta offers funding for current undergraduate and graduate student members accepting non- or low-paying summer internships. The Summer Internship Stipend is a competitive program providing a limited number of stipends of up to $1,500 each.
The internship must involve working for an “organization” while being directed by a supervisor/mentor within that organization, and the internship’s duties must be consistent with the applicant’s level of education, area of study, and career goals. Financial need will be taken into consideration in addition to internship length. Applicants are responsible for obtaining and providing verification of the internship. Please review the application guidelines for additional information.
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