What’s Your Internship?: Mali Main

Photo courtesy of Mali Main.

Photo courtesy of Mali Main.

Student: Mali Main

Major: Journalism with a minor in Quantitative Science

Grade: Senior

Position: Communications Intern for the Division of Occupational Therapy at the UW Department of Rehabilitation Medicine (Aug. 2012 to present), Unpaid, can be for credit. Supervisor: Janet Powell

Duties include:

“She initially just wanted someone to come in to revamp their newsletter as far as articles and getting more information and more newsy content, and I ended up kind of redoing the entire layout. It was very time consuming and I learned a lot, but it was definitely more hours than either one of us thought it would be.

“I’m going to start redoing some of their web content and also helping to intensely edit some of the Masters project papers to turn them into trade publication articles to submit them to OT Practice (which is a trade publication for occupational therapists).

“I get to interview all kinds of different people from students to faculty and then sometimes get quotes from random clinicians from the community that they work with. And then this is not required, just because I like to know stuff, but there’s a lot that comes up that I have never heard of like ‘gait belts’ and other clinical terms, so then I’ll go and research it.”

How did you find out about it?  

“Karen Rathe. I had just finished News Lab and Janet Powell had sent David Domke an email, who then sent it to Karen. She knew I was looking to get into medical or science writing and so she forwarded it to me.”

What made you decide to apply?

“It was right here on campus, so I knew there was no travel time involved and I thought it would be a good way to get experience doing medical related writing, and a good way to make contacts. And the fact that it was brand new meant that there was a little more flexibility.”

What do you like most about it?

“I get to learn about stuff that I wouldn’t normally, like I would never pick up OT Practice and read it, but now I know more about what occupational therapy is and how physical therapy is related and what the differences are. And that’s why I want to do medical writing too, because you get to learn every time you write something.”

Is there anything you would change?

“I guess it would be fun (and this isn’t something that would be possible) if there was a little desk or office right there in the Department where I could just sit there and listen to everybody and get to know everyone really well. I mostly know the people I’ve interviewed, but it would be cool to be able to hang out there and get to know the Department better.”

What’s the working environment like?

“My supervisor is awesome. I think she will spoil me for other supervisors I have in the future. Even though she doesn’t have a background in communications, she was really paying attention to how other newsletters were done and listened to my ideas. She lets you do your own thing and trusts you, and then when she has input, even if she’s saying, ‘actually I think we need to do it this way,’ it doesn’t sound mean.”

How do you think it will help you and your career or future goals?

“I will be able to show people the newsletter that I did and then any of the other web content that I do. She also said if any of the articles get published in a trade publication that I would get to share the byline. So I will have a lot to add to my portfolio and then also just the experience of working under a supervisor who has guidelines, a writing style to follow, and diplomacy in the way that I write about people.”

What’s your favorite accomplishment so far?

“Probably the newsletter because it took a long time and I remember thinking, ‘I want this to work for her and be something that she feels good about showing to her colleagues and other programs,’ and then also knowing that my name would be in it. This is also the biggest project I’ve done for her so far.”

Anything else?

“A lot of the skills I learned in journalism classes were utilized in this – interviewing, taking photographs, writing articles – and I got to practice them.”