Curious about the day-to-day activities and job responsibilities of a technical communication intern? Then read these “postcard” updates sent in by students who are currently working in the field as interns.
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Colin Peterson, Drexel University
Colin Peterson is a sophomore majoring in technical communication at Drexel University. For fall quarter, he is interning at Harris Publishing, Inc., located in Idaho Falls, ID.
As an intern Editorial Assistant, I am responsible for writing feature articles, revising press releases, assisting with proofreading and copy-editing, and assisting with magazine layout for three national trade magazines the company publishes: Diesel Tech, Houseboat, and Pontoon and Deck Boat. In performing these duties, I conduct online and field research in the automotive and marine industries. Most of my duties focus on writing and editing for Diesel Tech. The articles in that magazine emphasize the subject of diesel-powered pickup trucks. The articles promote new trucks for the next model year, showcase aftermarket-modified trucks from different owners across the U.S., and promote new available aftermarket performance parts for specific trucks. However, I also write some feature articles and showcase and promote accessory marine products for the Houseboat and Pontoon and Deck Boat magazines.
My job is exciting, and I learn a lot every day. What excites me the most about my job is doing research on the vehicles and their parts and facilitating all of my obtained information into magazine articles. For a long time, I have had a strong interest in the transportation and machinery industries with a special fascination with gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles and machines. Thus, I have a strong understanding of the inner workings of such apparatus. Every day, I gain an even stronger understanding of what aftermarket accessories can do to enhance vehicle performance, which shows me how to promote such products to magazine readers. I also am building on my automotive portfolio and heavily familiarizing myself with the marine industry.
One task I lack previous experience with is copy-editing; I did not have a strong idea of what that was before joining Harris, and I was surprised. After going through two copy-editing group sessions where I looked through rough drafts of Diesel Tech and Houseboat, I was somewhat clueless about what mistakes to look out for. However, I tried the best I could, and my supervisor and coworkers commended me for my honest efforts. They said I was right to ask questions to clarify formatting and layout quirks, even though a number of them were correct. Now I know that copy-editing is much more involved than simple proofreading, as it encompasses careful and systematic scanning for issues involving spelling, grammar, punctuation, formatting, documentation, and visuals. As I do it more, I feel that I am getting a stronger idea of what mistakes to look out for in editing a magazine, and that I will learn to more effectively copy-edit magazines in the future. I am proud of what I do, and I look forward to accomplishing tasks each day.