Winning an Internship with About.com

Kelsey PotterKelsey Potter
2015 Sigma Tau Delta Summer Internship Stipend Recipient
Delta Epsilon Upsilon Chapter
The University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY

About.com is a website you probably frequent. With over 3.5 million credible articles from knowledgeable experts, About.com often is one of the first websites to populate with a Google search. This summer, I had the fantastic opportunity to work as a public relations intern with About.com, and it was a life-changing experience. Because of Sigma Tau Delta’s Summer Internship Stipend, I was able to afford the costly move north to New York City, and I am so grateful to have spent my summer there.

One awesome thing about my internship was the location. Every morning I rode the 6 and S trains down to the About.com office in the center of Times Square along Broadway, right beside the Good Morning America studio. My desk was by the window where throughout the day I could peek outside to see the excited crowds gathered below. Once I saw a performance with dogs jumping into giant pools of water, and the next day, a live airing of a cooking competition—all from my window!

about.comI am an English and Integrated Strategic Communication double major, and my internship was a perfect blend of what I’ve learned at the University of Kentucky. The company was not advertising for interns on their website, so I submitted my resume through the “If you don’t see a position that interests you, click here to let us know how you can make a difference at About.com” section. My initiative was successful and I was off to New York.

At About.com, I flexed my writing skills by creating blog posts and researching the field to create an internal newsletter. I aided in event planning and working with clients, and offered my input on future projects. Working for such a large company was daunting, but I always felt my opinion was valued, and my two supervisors were great about keeping me involved and informed. Working at About.com gave me a perfect view into what I could do once I graduate, and without Sigma Tau Delta’s stipend, I never would have been able to afford the cost of living in the city to participate in the internship.

Playbill CollageAfter work, most of my free time was spent trying to obtain discounted tickets for plays. During my first weekend in the city, I won lottery tickets to see The Tempest, put on by Shakespeare in the Park, and it took me by storm. I also student rushed for tickets to see Finding Neverland, and scored inexpensive second row seats! I was so excited to see my namesake, Kelsey Grammar, preform live. I also explored the city, finding so many interesting parades and festivals, such as the Museum Mile Festival.

Tea and EBookNow that I’m back home in Kentucky it’s strange I don’t have to take a train to get to class or work. While I can’t say I miss the lack of personal space or the sweltering heat, I know on my morning stroll I will yearn for pancakes from Timmy’s Diner on York Avenue. I will wish I could swing by Central Park to sit and drink my coffee. I had to say goodbye to the Big Apple, but after Sigma Tau Delta’s generosity allowed me to experience it, I know I’ll be seeing New York City again soon.

Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the About.com office with CEO, Neil Vogel.

When has a bold move worked in your favor to offer you a once-in-a-lifetime experience to advance your career and education?

Sigma Tau Delta Summer Internship Stipend

Application Period: February 1 – March 21
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. Applicants are responsible for obtaining and providing verification of the internship. Decisions will be made by May 2.

You’ve Submitted, You’ve Been Accepted, Now What?

Shelly RomeroShelly Romero
Midwest Student Representative
Alpha Epsilon Eta Chapter
Stephens College, Columbia, MO

Submitting to the Sigma Tau Delta 2016 International Convention is a daunting task. You spent weeks, months even, revising and editing a piece or two, perfecting it in time for the deadline. Soon after, you’re stuck waiting from October to December, with every “bloop” and “bleep” notification ring making you anxious as you wait for that fateful email.

Then, like an early Christmas (or in my case, a belated birthday present), you get the email one December day congratulating your acceptance to convention. You update your Facebook status, notify your chapter and your Sponsor, and tweet it loud and proud.

About a week or so later, the glow vanishes; the giddy butterflies leave as worry seeps in, realizing you’ve actually been accepted. You’re going to be standing in front of your chapter members and strangers to read your piece along with a Q&A session following your session’s presentations. Now what?

ReadingDon’t panic. Seriously, don’t panic. You’ll do a great job. Presenting at convention is one of the most exciting aspects of the whole shindig.

To prepare for convention you must keep a few things in mind:

  1. Read, Read, Read—one of the most important things is to read your piece several times in advance. This allows you to also time yourself, as paper presentations must only be read within or under 15 minutes time. Re-reading your piece also allows you to learn how to enunciate your words, practice your voice and tone, and make sure you’re under time.
  2. I Like Big Fonts and I Cannot Lie—when you present to an audience, don’t obscure your face with your papers because you can’t read it. Print your piece in a font size larger than you typically use. For example, I’m a pt. 12 user, but for presentations, I like to use a point size 14 or 16 to ensure I can read it clearly.Printer
  3. Print It Out—Printing costs at hotels are absurd and you could spend that money elsewhere on books or at the hotel’s in-house Starbucks. Before you board your flight to Minneapolis, be sure to print out your paper and reread it to make sure all your edits are final.

The most important thing to remember is that your paper was accepted; you did it, congrats! Be sure to relax and enjoy convention to its fullest because you’re part of the cream of the crop.

What are some of your tips for preparing to read your works in front of an audience?


Paper and Creative Works: Additional Resources for Presenters

The Sigma Tau Delta Convention

How an Internship Shaped my Career

Colton CoxColton Cox
Mu Omega Chapter
SUNY, College at Oneonta, Oneonta, NY

Colton Cox was the 2015 recipient of the Sigma Tau Delta/Penguin Random House Summer Internship. Read on to learn about his experience in the Children’s Division, and to see what you could gain from applying for the 2016 internship.

CCox-PengBlog2Since I was 15, I was convinced I wanted to go into editorial work. It seemed like the ideal existence: quietly working on a manuscript, polishing it into a final draft, and seeing the results of my labor on shelves in bookstores. And while I honestly still love editing, I’ve found myself enamored by another aspect of the publishing industry—publicity.

I initially asked for an editorial placement with Penguin Random House, and my first interview was with Penguin Books for Young Readers as a split editorial/publicity internship. After a couple anxious weeks, I learned I didn’t receive the job, but immediately was offered a second interview for a publicity position with Random House Children’s Books. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity, though I wasn’t too sure about what publicity entailed. I did a bit of research in preparation for the interview and was fortunate enough to be offered the position, but I still was pretty clueless as I walked into my first day.

Tip #1: It’s sometimes okay to be clueless.

I was happy to learn I would have a co-intern (shout out to Melissa), who also was just beginning work at Random House. It was comforting to share my uncertainty with somebody, though she turned out to be a miraculously quick learner and an Excel wiz, which always kept me working at maximum efficiency.

Tip #2: Get comfortable with Microsoft Excel (it’s essential).

The first day was full of introductions, reintroductions, and many, many books. I figured there’d be books around, but I didn’t expect them to fill every possible nook and cranny. Sieving through the stacks, I learned a few terms:

  • Galley = Advanced Readers Copy (publicists are always mailing out galleys to reviewers and media outlets).
  • Fold and Gather, or, F&G = Advanced copies of picture books, before they are stapled or otherwise bound, laid out in sheets.
  • Bound manuscript = When physical copies of a book are needed, but a Galley isn’t yet prepared. It’s essentially a bound draft of a book, with a lot of changes expected to be made before release.

CCox-PengBlog3Working in the Children’s Division, I handled each of these items for mailings. Children’s also tends to have the greatest variety of manuscripts, ranging from Board Books for infants/toddlers, to Young Adult novels that may be read by both teenagers and adults. It provided some relief from the literary fiction and theory I’d been consuming as an undergraduate; children’s literature, as it turns out, is incredibly nuanced, and the publishing process begins years (yes, years) in advance. I’ll explain the responsibilities of publicists.

To put it plainly, publicists are the interface between books and media. Of course, it’s a bit more complicated than that—they work with a long list of national and regional reviewers, coordinate television promotions and interviews, organize book tours and blogging tours (both of which involve thousands of potential venues), and assist marketing campaigns for new releases.

Tip #3: Get organized, because your email inbox is going to be busy.

My day-to-day involved general assistance to each of these tasks. In the first six weeks of my internship, I had written several press releases for fall 2015 titles; contacted potential reviewers for a book blog tour; sent out Galley mailings to top media, regional outlets, and famous acquaintances (a celebrity shout out always is helpful); created a master contact list of 1,000+ bloggers; and conducted work on several social media campaigns (including the #WhatPet project for the new Dr. Seuss book!).

CCox-PengBlog4Tip #4: Learn to prioritize, then to reprioritize.

I’ve learned to love publicity, and it’s very much because of the people I worked with. The job entails a lot of talking to a lot of people, which is something I may not have gotten in editorial. I also feel fortunate to say I was offered an extension on the internship with Random House through the fall (there’s always enough work to pass around, and I’ve never gotten coffee for anybody—no time to waste!).

Here’s to hoping this may be the beginning of a healthy career in publishing. Thanks are due to Sigma Tau Delta, whose generosity made this job—and its commute—possible.

To leave you off, here is a photo of me during Week Two, during the release event for What Pet Should I Get?

Happy reading, friends!


Sigma Tau Delta Summer Internships

Sigma Tau Delta co-sponsors internships in partnership with Penguin Random House and Better World Books.