As a writing intern who studies history, joining the Special Projects department was the perfect way for me to incorporate those two interests into my DME internship experience. In many ways, writing for Special Projects allowed me to exercise many of the same skills I depend on for analytical writing in my undergraduate history classes. Of course, being that I am not primarily writing to an academic audience, there is an added dimension of creative flexibility. In both Special Project’s primary project areas—A Veterans Story (AVS) and Operation Song—I can go deep into a Veteran’s life story and share fascinating narrative details about their lives. Ultimately, if you are a devoted writer and think critically, I argue you will enjoy writing for Special Projects. With each project, you are helping Veterans in multifaceted ways while keeping your analytical-thinking capabilities sharp.
When writing an AVS blog, you aim to create sense of a Veteran’s many unique life experiences. That means you are not trying to write a biography of their life in which you list out everything they ever did. Instead, you should be giving an account of the Veteran’s life experiences, intending to form it into a coherent narrative. Therefore, your writing should be driven by a main idea, whether you make that idea explicitly stated or not. And the key to an excellent writeup, like any analytical paper, is carrying that central idea through the entire draft.
And the benefits of a well-written AVS are twofold. In the short term, Veterans and other readers will see these blogs as ways to honor Veterans whose stories are incredibly unique, overcame adversity, or were forgotten over time. In the long-term, these blogs will be referred to by future history-minded readers when researching Veterans or analyzing the different ways U.S. Veterans expressed their loyalty.
Similarly, Operation Song blogs aim to give a focused narrative for a Veteran’s motivations and experiences from producing a song with the organization Operation Song. As you would with analyzing poems or lyrics in history class, you can think of each song’s content as an expression of a Veteran’s thoughts and emotions, often related to their experiences serving in the military or their transition to civilian life. After you interview the Veteran and understand why they made their song, you will write a complementary blog highlighting the story embedded within the song’s lyrics.
When an Operation Song blog complements its song well, readers should have an expanded understanding of the song. Songs are powerful mediums to share stories as they allow Veterans to express themselves in ways that are not possible through traditional discourse. And by thinking analytically while writing your blog, you can help Veterans expand upon those ideas.
Overall, just use the skills you gained from your academic life and incorporate them into your internship experience. You will find that many of the skills you learn in school can be applied to many other aspects of your life, especially this internship.
Writer: Calvin Wong
Editor: Katie Wang, Amra Kandic
Graphic Designer: Katie Rahill