It was April 2020. I eagerly waited for June to arrive because I was accepted into my school’s Washington D.C. internship program for the summer. One afternoon, I received an email from the program director stating that the summer 2020 session would be canceled due to COVID-19. A few days later, I received an email regarding a remote internship opportunity with the VA Digital Media Engagement team. I did some light research on the internship program and found the writing department aligned to my tastes. I asked myself, “Why not?” and applied for a position as a writing intern.
While writing for a Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS) internship for only a few months, I feel incredibly proud of the work I have produced so far. In the first few weeks after settling into my internship position, one of my department heads tasked me to help finish up some Veteran of the Day (VOD) content. I found the process of conducting research and putting the Veteran’s story into words incredibly enjoyable and rewarding. With such a great experience finishing my first assignment, I immediately started the process of researching and writing a new VOD piece on my own. I love these assignments because I felt proud knowing these Veterans’ stories would forever be available through VA’s blogsite. And to my welcomed surprise, a few weeks later I found out my works were also posted onto the Department of Veteran Affairs Instagram page and looked over and liked by thousands of people.
Perhaps even more special to me than writing content for a VSFS internship might be the teamwork inherent to the process which leads up to a piece’s publication. Along with me on everything I write, I am teamed with skilled editing, fact checking, research and graphic design interns. The team depends on me to get my portion of work done in a timely manner so that they can complete and finalize their own tasks. Whether the assignment be a piece on a Medal of Honor recipient to writing content for a congressional report, I know that I am never alone. Every time I see an assignment moved into a leadership member’s inbox for review, I am amazed by how the teamwork of a few VSFS interns produced such professional content.
Being fairly “new” to this internship at the time of writing this piece, perhaps prospective VSFS writers might consider my following advice vague and banal. However, these mindsets really helped me adjust into the virtual internship. When starting out as a writer, it is okay to be confused even after watching the tutorial videos. Just send an email or message to your department head asking for clarification. In fact, that might even be the perfect way to build rapport and show them you care about succeeding in the internship. They might even be willing to entrust you with important assignments. Additionally, be open to trying new things. I remember when I finished my first and second VOD assignments, I thought I would do VODs for the rest of my time with the program. Yet, when I saw people posting about writer vacancies on other assignments, I asked myself “Why not?” and joined in on them.
Just a few months ago, I never expected to be writing for a VSFS internship. It only took me three months of trying it out to decide I wanted to reapply for the 2020-2021 session.
Editor: Kelly Dooley
Graphic Designer: Grace Yang