Journey From Editing Intern to Department Head of A Veteran’s Story

Short summary: My promotion to the Department Head (DH) of A Veteran’s Story (AVS) occurred after working as an editing intern for about seven months. I would soon have the opportunity to enhance my communication and leadership skills while leading about 15 interns who produced compelling stories about Veterans.

My journey to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Digital Media Engagement (DME) Team began in September 2019. I applied to the Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS) program and accepted the role of editing intern. I wanted to work in public service, honor and support our nation’s Veterans, improve my skills and learn new ones.

Gaining experience as an editing intern was a great stepping stone before advancing to a leadership position. Editing for the DME team coincided with the editing courses I was taking in college. As I began learning more about technical editing, my confidence as an editor improved. My communication skills with DME writing interns began to progress as I offered feedback. I soon began applying new editing suggestions to a myriad of DME write-ups before they were ready for public viewing. I am an introvert, so I have a natural tendency to listen instead of talking or stating my opinions openly. Since this is a virtual internship, DME interns are actively encouraged to engage with each other and the VA staff. Overall, the confidence I gained while editing and engaging in conservation with DME team members helped enhance my leadership and communication skills.

Once I became the DH of AVS in April 2020, I began to take on more responsibilities. I communicated with and led a team of about 15 interns. My job was to ensure AVS content was finished in a timely fashion, met VA standards and was ready for publication on the VA blog VAntage Point. I was able to apply the skills I previously learned as an editing intern. I had the opportunity to work with and learn from other DME DHs with various leadership and communication styles. As the DH of AVS, I collaborated with all writing and editing DHs to produce around a dozen onboarding documents for incoming interns collectively. I was also fortunate to be able to directly connect with and learn from VA staff who provided quality advice, are examples of great leadership and show how to be a team player.

Interns who would like to work in a leadership position must show that they can work hard, be reliable, surpass expectations, be a self-starter, collaborate with fellow team members and communicate well.

Editor: Elissa Tatum