This is a guest blog post by Holly Nelms, a writing intern at Honorsociety.org.
I recently began a remote writing internship with HonorSociety.org, and so far the experience has been very rewarding. I have been very fortunate to write about topics I enjoy, while also getting the opportunity to read articles from other writing interns. If you have just landed a writing internship of your own, good for you! Whether it’s a remote or on-site position, you will learn more than you could ever imagine about being a professional writer. However, before you can truly excel in your new internship, there a few things you need to know.
1. Pick a topic that’s relevant to your audience. If you are assigned articles by your superiors, you won’t need to worry about this. However, if you are charged with coming up with your own article ideas, much like I do in my writing internship with HonorSociety.org, this tip is for you. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience members for a moment. If your audience is primarily teenagers, you probably don’t want to write about retirement plans. On the other hand, if your audience is comprised of older adults, you shouldn’t write about the latest prom trends. Making sure your topic is relevant to your audience members is key to not only keeping people from becoming bored by your writing, but also to maintaining a dedicated readership that finds your articles helpful and engaging.
2. Research your article topics. If you’re a history buff, you may think you know all there is to know about the American Revolution. If you’re a literature junkie, you’re sure you can recite the themes of William Shakespeare’s famous works in your sleep. Believe it or not, though, there is always more to learn about any given topic. That is why you should research, Research, RESEARCH. Think of it this way. People are going to read your articles, and they are most likely going to rely on your articles to give them complete and accurate information. If they find out your article leaves out important information, or even worse, provides false information, they are going to stop reading your articles. They might even contact your supervisor about the misinformation. This will quickly spoil your internship experience and could lead to a poor recommendation from your supervisor.
3. Follow the guidelines your adviser has given you. Writing internships will vary in the amount of freedom you are given to write what you want. If there are style guidelines or specific assignments given to you by your supervisor, it is not a good idea to throw them out the window and do your own thing. Unless you have an internship similar to mine at HonorSociety.org, using your own article ideas will probably be a special treat for good work, not an everyday occurrence. Keeping this in mind, you should work to prove yourself to your adviser by writing top-notch articles for your assignments. Maybe then you’ll be free to pursue some of your own ideas.
4. Proofread before publishing. If you have an on-site internship, someone will probably be there to edit your articles before they are published. However, if you have a remote internship and post your articles directly online like I do, you must act as the reviser and editor of whatever you are writing. I know what you’re thinking. “My article sounds like it makes sense to me, so it must be fine, right?” Not necessarily. Just because you know what you’re trying to say in an article does not mean that your readership will catch your meaning. The key is to once again assume the position of your audience members. Set aside the article for a little while after writing it, and then come back to it as though someone else has written it. Be objective and unbiased, and put to use all of that grammar knowledge you learned from English class. Hopefully by the end of it, you’ll have a near-perfect article that your entire audience can understand.
5. Share your work on social media. If your goal is to become a professional writer, social media should soon become one of your best friends, if it hasn't already. Businesses are looking for writers with a plethora of experience and a broad online presence, and social media is a great tool to make sure your work gets noticed. If you’re interning with a company that publishes articles online, type your name into the website’s search bar, find your articles and click the “Share” button for all of your social media profiles. This will guarantee that someone will see it, and if it’s a good-enough article, they may even remember it years down the line.