Sidney interned with the Cooper Center Communications Team, contributing her excellent writing talents to multiple projects across the Center, from social media posts to website content to the Cooper Center Impact Report.
"My internship experience enabled me to realize anew just how much I enjoy writing, and I hope that I can find a career that enables me to be involved in the writing process. Working with the Cooper Center also opened my eyes to the many ways in which an individual can contribute to the public good."
Communications Team Intern
Sidney's PhD program is in the Classics Department, which focuses on the study of ancient Greek and Latin languages and literature.
What are your post-PhD career aspirations?
I am in the process of figuring out what I would like to do after I finish my degree, but I haven’t settled on anything yet. I thought for a long time that I wanted to pursue academia, but in the last few years I have begun to think differently about what academia is able to offer me right now and what I need from my career. Regardless of what I end up doing, I would like my work to be intellectually engaging, and I want to know that I am making a difference and helping others.
Why did you choose to intern with the Cooper Center, Communications Team?
When I was reading through the PhD Plus internship opportunities, I was initially attracted to the internship posting for the Energy Transition Initiative, because I am very interested in the environment and sustainability. After attending an info session, I realized that I wasn’t a good fit for that particular position, but I was attracted to the Cooper Center’s overall commitment to helping others and serving the public good. I thought that my skills would be well suited to the Communications team, and I was excited by the possibility of learning about the various teams at CC and the different ways in which they work to help communities and individuals in Virginia.
What projects did you work on during your internship?
So many that I lost count! I did a lot of writing for social media posts, from smaller projects like alumni congratulations posts to projects of longer duration, such as the recruitment program for PLP ’22. I also helped to edit content on the website and in the Impact Report, and I likewise assisted Claire in video production by writing a script for the DEI video. I also curated the fall and winter newsletters, produced a Media Kit for the Cooper Center, and helped my team brainstorm ideas for various projects, both current and future. The common thread throughout my work was writing, but I was lucky enough to have the chance to write for a range of audiences and try my hand at different styles of writing.
What have you learned as a result of your internship?
I learned the importance of always keeping your audience in mind. If you are going to produce a good or service, it has to be one that your intended audience will be able to easily use or consume. I also learned the value in admitting when I need help or don’t know something. Graduate students often believe that we should not admit when we don’t know something, but this prevents us from learning from others and stunts our growth.
Has your internship experience helped you in your academic studies, given you skills you can use in a future career or helped you to think differently about your academic and/or career path?
My internship helped me to become more comfortable working in a team (an opportunity that doesn’t come along often for graduate students) and gave me the (very enjoyable) chance to experiment with different writing styles and levels of formality. Most of the academic writing I do is quite formal, and it was lots of fun to craft messages with different types of audiences in mind—some of these demanded a more formal style, while others allowed for more flexibility and creativity.
Teaching is very rewarding, but there are so many other ways to make a difference and put one’s PhD to good use!
What did you enjoy most about your internship?
Without a doubt, the people at the Cooper Center were the best part of my experience. My team was always encouraging and fun to work with, but they also always treated me like an equal. I received recognition for jobs well done but also got constructive feedback on ways to improve or think through things differently, both of which were very helpful. Everyone that I worked with at the Cooper Center was kind, warm, and fun to talk to, and that made all the difference!
Would you recommend the PhD Plus Program to future students?
Absolutely! PhD+ is an opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone and test your skills in a new arena. You’ll have the chance to feel proud of the skills that you’ve already acquired, but you will also have the chance to challenge yourself and develop new strengths. In my opinion, what makes an internship with the Weldon Cooper Center distinct from other PhD+ opportunities is that the CC gives graduate students the opportunity to learn more about the state that they live in. It invites them to resist the temptation to stay only in the UVA bubble and instead embrace learning about the whole of the Commonwealth.