“That’s What She Read”: My Summer Internship with Better World Books

Kaitlynn Helmby Kaitlynn Helm
Chi Theta Chapter
West Texas A&M University
Canyon, Texas

I truly encourage all Society members to apply for the summer internship with Better World Books (BWB)! Since BWB adapts projects to you, this internship allows you to bring your strengths and your skill set, at whatever stage you are, to a real world professional environment and lets you see what you are capable of and what you need to work on (and six weeks gives you plenty of time to grow and strengthen current and newly acquired skills).

I first learned about BWB and their internship after my induction into Sigma Tau Delta. Once I knew there was an opportunity to apply for an internship I immediately began working on becoming eligible—which meant hosting a book drive for BWB. My Sponsor was one hundred percent supportive of my goal and of running a book drive and so we made 250 bookmarks that advertised our book drive, set up booths to spread awareness about our partnership with Better World Books, made a video that compiled many different students’ and professors’ feelings about illiteracy and the book drive we were hosting, collected just under 1,000 books, and, finally, organized all of our hard work into an online presentation that became part of my internship application.

Welcome to the office!

Welcome to the Office Package

As my first day approached I was as excited as I was nervous. One of my first favorite experiences that helped calm those nerves was my welcome to the office package—a tote bag, stickers, bookmarks, magnets, a mini drop box, flowers for my desk, and a “That’s what she read” T-shirt. My time at BWB was spent with their Acquisitions Department. I provided research for many projects, proofread and edited miscellaneous documents, redesigned/reformatted documents and presentations, and created documents from scratch to aid the Acquisitions team in the office and at conferences. What I loved most about this internship is that from the beginning BWB stressed that the internship was not just about what I could do for them, but what they could do for me.

Office Picnic at Stone Mountain Park

Office Picnic at Stone Mountain Park

Nearly every week of my stay I had a meeting set up with a different employee who had a lot of experience, a lot of advice, and a lot of insight to share with me. The fact that everyone, from Account Executives to the CEO, made time to sit down with me showed me how much I was valued. Outside of my projects and meetings with employees I attended weekly meetings with the entire Acquisitions team, providing me an understanding of how people communicate within collaborative work settings. To top it all off I was invited to their office picnic at Stone Mountain Park. Not only did I get to interact with my coworkers in a fun, casual setting, but at the raffle they put on I won tickets to a Braves game!

Braves Game - My First Pro Baseball Game!

Braves Game
My First Pro Baseball Game!

Going away party

Going Away Party Cake

In six weeks I learned what I was capable of, saw how to interact and communicate with coworkers in a professional environment, developed skills in research, document design, and proofreading, received valuable advice, and made some great connections and friends. I cannot say thank you enough to BWB and Sigma Tau Delta for offering this opportunity and to my chapter and Sponsors for both helping and supporting me in pursuing this internship. On my last day I was surprised with a going away office party. Over delicious cookie cake we reconnected on how my time at BWB went. I will be taking everything I learned and experienced with me as I continue to grow and pursue my career as well as bringing it all back to my chapter. I hope to show them that we should all be proud of what a degree in English can do and that its worth in the ‘real’ world has no limits. Again, I have to say thank you Sigma Tau Delta and BWB for making this possible for me.

Additional Resources:

Southwestern Student Leadership Candidate

TU-14-photo-Laszik-Stephanie Stephanie Laszik
Candidate for Southwestern Student Representative, 2014-2015
Graduate Student, Epsilon Omega Chapter, University of Texas at Tyler
Tyler, TX

Positions, other memberships, offices, etc., currently or recently held:

  • Sigma Tau Delta: Epsilon Omega Chapter Member since 2012
  • Publication Committee President 2012-2014
  • Vice-President Fall 2013-2014
  • Other: Phi Alpha Theta 2013
  • Sigma Alpha Pi 2012 (National Engaged Leader Award)
  • Walter Prescott Webb Historical Society 2012 (Secretary, 2013)
  • Spanish Club 2012
  • Significant Practicum Experience: Pixels, Panels, and Prose, Tyler, TX, 2013 (Presenter)
  • Student Research Conference, Tyler, TX, 2013 (Presenter)
  • Phi Alpha Theta 2014 Biennial Convention, Albuquerque, NM, 2014 (Presenter)

Explain why you are running for office and comment on any skills, experience, or personal qualities you possess that would contribute to your performing the following duties: promoting communication among chapters other than your own, producing official publications, assisting your Regent, serving on the Student Leadership Committee. Further comments or ideas are encouraged. Include your region and your first and last name at the top of the page. Please do not include sensitive personal information in your essay. Candidate essays will be displayed publicly before the election. Do not exceed 500 words:

As a seasoned representative of student interests through my contributions to various academic organizations, I would be honored to rise to the occasion and offer my dedication to the interests of my fellow Southwestern Sigma Tau Delta members. With a firm belief in the opportunities and necessity in networking, I will promote communication across the Southwestern region and further develop active participation throughout chapters. I look forward to having the opportunity to represent my chapter and region and assist the Regent and Student Leadership Committee in the following year. The ability to promote the core beliefs and goals of Sigma Tau Delta is important to the continued growth, success, and integrity of the field of English studies.

There is still time to apply for a student leadership position for any region. Simply bring your completed application form to the convention and turn it in at the convention registration desk any time before the Regional Networking meetings on Thursday afternoon.

Put Some Tofu On It!

Vegetarian and Vegan Cuisine in Portland

kwilliams150by Katherine Williams
Southwestern Student Representative
Arkansas Tech University

Known for its eccentric, eco-friendly environment, Portland offers a variety of vegetarian and vegan cuisine for both residents and tourists. I found healthy, meat-free alternatives at every stop during my visit to Portland for the fall Board meeting last September. According to Wikipedia, Portland is the most vegetarian-friendly city in the country; whether or not that statistic is exaggerated, the city has so many delicious cafés, bistros, and ethnic restaurants that even meat-eaters would enjoy the vegetarian dishes. These are my personal recommendations.

Mother’s Bistro and Bar: 212 SW Stark Street (www.mothersbistro.com)

With its beautiful Victorian atmosphere, it almost felt like we were back in last year’s convention city, New Orleans. This restaurant has been lauded by Food Network and it offers a cookbook for culinary fans. I had the Hummus and Greek Salad Combo from the appetizer section. It was plenty of food and very satisfying. It was also very affordable. It comes with pita chips, hummus with a spicy chili sauce, and the perfect Greek salad. ($$)

veggiegrill: 508 SW Taylor Street (www.veggiegrill.com)

pix_visitThis all-vegetarian franchise is less than a block away from our hotel! The restaurant has a fast-food feel with a sit-down atmosphere and offers a delicious variety of iced teas (including green and black teas) and specialty beer on tap. I tried the Grillin’ Chickin’ with Sweetheart Fries, sweet potato fries with an amazing hearty flavor that come with the most delicious non-dairy chipotle ranch dipping sauce you will ever taste. It kept me full all day without feeling stuffed or tired. ($)

Old Town Pizza: 226 NW David Street (www.oldtownpizza.com)

slide6-pizzaLocated in Old Town, part of the walkable districts of Portland, you can pass through the Chinatown arches on your way to a historic pizza shop noted by Jay Leno and Rachel Ray. It’s also known to be haunted. I shared an Antipasto plate, Pesto Pizza, and Dragon Lady Pizza with my friends. Although the antipasto plate includes different cuts of meats, I enjoyed the veggies and cheeses. Of the two pizzas, I enjoyed the Pesto Pizza the most; the combination of mozzarella and feta cheeses and pine nuts was sublime. Those of you who love veggie pizzas would enjoy the Dragon Lady Pizza with olives, artichoke hearts, and other veggies. ($$)

 Voodoo Donut: 22 SW 3rd Avenue (www.voodoodonut.com)

Anyone who’s anyone goes to Voodoo Donut for their wacky donut names and delicious treats. Several of their most well-known donuts have a vegan option. ($)


Don’t Forget About the Food Trucks…

FoodTrucksAnother cheap and delicious option in Portland is to visit the endless food trucks along 10th Avenue (on the way to Powell’s City of Books). These portable food vendors offer every style of food your heart could desire, from Japanese to Mediterranean to Thai food. Many offer vegetarian and vegan meals at an affordable price (my tofu pad thai was only $5). However, be prepared to wait awhile for the vendors to get your meal together; most seem to deliver in the order in which the customer appears.

…or the Convention Hotel!

The hotel is offering a 15% discount on dinner service and daily discounted lunch specials at Bistro 921. If you are too busy to get away to eat, these discounts will make it much more affordable to just grab a sandwich or salad in the hotel so you can rush back to the fun.

If you are a vegetarian or vegan, be sure to read the menu carefully; most menus I’ve found in Portland restaurants have an icon that indicates if the entrée is vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free. If you have questions about an entrée you would like to make vegetarian (by taking out the meat portion), have no fear about asking the wait staff. Most residents of Portland are very friendly and understanding of your request and they probably can offer advice on specials in the restaurant.