By Kaylee Bayersdorfer ’20
Interning in the Westfield State Public Affairs Office gave me a cherished opportunity to witness the hard work and dedication among the President’s office staff and provided insight into what it takes to operate a University—on site and remotely.
As an English major, I was taught a variety of ways to write—from fiction to poetry and art reviews to
During my highly beneficial internship, I also learned the value of being concise and professional in my writing. With guidance from my supervisor, Communication Specialist Troy Watkins, and Acting Director of Campus Communication Lorraine U. Martinelle, I developed my skills to draft press releases for the University.
When writing articles for the University’s internal newsletter, NewsWise, I connected with faculty, staff, and students across campus to interview and tell their exciting stories via the written word.
Each day in the office, I felt welcomed and greatly appreciated. I was treated as an equal in the midst of professionals and felt as if I were a vital part of the communications process: researching and writing press releases and articles, editing, reviewing the final draft that would be shared with the campus community and/or the local media.
There was not a point in this internship where I felt underappreciated in the work I had been putting in; this motivated me to do more and excel in my writing. I also learned a valuable lesson: Recognition leads to excellent work.
As our University transitioned to remote learning in mid-March, I was regularly given assignments as if I were in an office setting; this instilled in me a trust that the Public Affairs staff knew I was capable of continuing to perform independently in a deadline-intensive environment. The remote setting allowed me to be versatile; as I adapted to the shifting of my work life and academic life.
Since I completed a vast majority of my internship assignments using my personal laptop at my home in Granby, Conn., I felt prepared to tackle each assignment. Working remotely, like a majority of employed Americans in the midst of this pandemic, has better prepared me to prioritize and complete assignments in the modern workplace.
In spite of the pandemic and the shift to remote work and studies at institutions of higher education throughout the country, student excellence continued. The willingness of Westfield State students to learn and gain new experiences showed resilience and flexibility, which will carry them forward on their career journey.
Emilie Jean-Jacques ’20
Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
Emilie Jean-Jacques ’20 of Shirley earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and political science and interned during the spring 2020 semester with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under the Committee Management Office in Washington D.C. There, she witnessed operations of the third-largest federal agency.
Jean-Jacques interned remotely and assumed extra responsibility after returning home in March when COVID-19 forced businesses to close. “My mother put me in charge of making sure my younger sister’s academic work was getting done,” she says, a typical duty assigned by parents to many older siblings.
Jean-Jacques continued to learn, despite the physical separation from the nation’s capital, and
“Although my time in Washington was cut short, it was a valuable experience to intern for a federal agency during the chaos, confusion, and tragedy of the pandemic,” says Jean Jacques. “Before the outbreak, I learned what it was like working in a professional setting, the various components of the Department of Homeland Security, and what kinds of tasks and assignments federal advisory committees assume. Through remote learning, I strengthened my communications skills, how to hold a teleconference meeting, and how the government responds internally to an outbreak of this magnitude.”
Jesse Buckman ’20
Boys & Girls Club of Greater Westfield
Jesse Buckman ’20 of Russell earned a bachelor’s in communication and interned as a grant writer for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Westfield. There, he received a hands-on learning experience under grant writer Karissa St. Pierre ’13 and worked independently on assignments.
“This process of learning the techniques of grant writing convinced me to pursue this career path,” says Buckman. “Despite my lack of experience, I wrote a successful grant that earned $9,600 for the Boys & Girls Club’s Summer Food Service Program. It was a positive affirmation for me.”
For Buckman, the switch to remote learning was smooth. He continued to communicate through email and Zoom. At the conclusion of the spring semester, he was offered a summer, part-time position with the Boys & Girls Club as a development assistant.