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(1) Once upon a time I had a job on a technical magazine. I wanted to get
into software documentation, so I applied to a computer company across
the street and to grad school (MA Professional Writing). My
predecessor at the magazine had gone to this computer company and was
pulling for me from inside. However, grad school accepted me first, in
March. I *really* wanted to leave the magazine job, so I wrote the
computer company again and asked if I could intern over the summer.
They said yes, and the intern salary was 30% more than I was making as
an assistant editor after two years. The computer company also gave
me an internship the next year (an internship was required by the
degree program), at a rate about 50% above the previous one.
I didn't know this at the time, but the whole company was in the mode
of pursuing college graduates rather than experienced help.
(2) Years later, I was a tw manager at a different company.
The company announced that the HR department would be helping bring in
student interns for the summer. I duly spoke before a TW class at the
local university and handed out collateral material and
applications. Three good people interviewed. I wanted to hire any one
of them, and made my choice. HR suddenly delayed the process for a
month, causing us to lose the opportunity to hire any of them.
(3) Recently my current company brought on a former chip-design
engineer who wanted to be a writer and who volunteered to work for
peanuts. He was offered a job after about a month, which he declined
in favor of going out on the contracting market. His "in" was knowing
the president and having technical experience. We wouldn't do the
same thing with a student.
The moral of my stories: don't wait to be asked, and don't assume that
you will gain anything by going through HR departments. Make friends
at STC meetings. If you're a student, go to the local professional
chapter; buttonhole the program manager and see if they or you can do
a program about internships. Pay attention to who is in class with
you--sometimes professionals take classes at night. That's how I met
the friend who pulled for me at the first computer company.
[ Andrew J. English writes: ]
> I would like to hear from people who
> have entered the field through internships
> or people who work at companies where
> interns are used. How did you obtain
> the internship? Did it pay a living
> wage? Also, are there companies which
> offer part-time internships with flexible
> hours (for those of us that have to hold
> down a second job while we work as interns)?
John Gough john -at- atrium -dot- com
Principal Technical Writer voice (512) 328-6977
Atrium Technologies fax (512) 328-2789