This is part of a series where we ask Grady College students to describe their summer internship experience.
For others in the series, please see:
Connor Foarde, The Washington Times
Christopher Mays, Citi
Charlotte Norsworthy, NPR
Brittany Paris, Dateline NBC
Maxime Tamsett, CNN
Name: Kendall Lake
Certificate: New Media
Masters: Emerging Media
Title of Internship: Communications Intern at New America’s Open Technology Institute
Location: Washington, D.C.
Grady College: Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities:
Kendall Lake: I work at the Open Technology Institute, the tech policy branch of a bigger nonpartisan think tank called New America. As OTI’s communications intern, I work primarily with our small departmental communications team, but I also spend time with a broader New America group that includes events, production, editorial and communications. My primary responsibilities include tracking our media hits, supporting editorial efforts with content writing and copyediting, supporting events with promotion and planning, and working to create and design materials for the web and for print.
GC: What was the best part about your summer internship?
K.L.: Working at OTI means I am surrounded by some of the most pressing technology issues facing our world today. I work alongside experts in net neutrality, encryption, consumer privacy, and more—buzzwords you probably see in the news almost daily. I truly believe in the work OTI is doing to promote a more open and secure internet, and I am honored to support that work in any way that I can. Also, part of my job is to stay informed on the latest technology and tech policy news, and who doesn’t love diving down digital rabbit holes in a field they love?
GC: What was the biggest surprise in your internship (ie: is there anything you didn’t expect?)
K.L.: Having supervisors that want you to learn and grow is what everyone hopes for from an internship. The part I did not predict is that not only do my supervisors want me to learn, they also want to learn from me! My background as the curator for TEDxUGA gives me a unique perspective on presentation development and communication that they are eager to explore. In a few weeks, I’ll be giving a crash course about what looking at TED talks can teach you about good presentations. I’ve been told that even our department’s director is excited—I am too. I’m thrilled that my workplace values my experiences and expertise.
GC: What is the biggest challenge you faced during your internship?
K.L.: Imposter syndrome is very real. There are six interns in my department, all years older than me and knee-deep in law school or grad school. For the first few weeks, I felt young and unqualified, and I constantly wondered how I ended up here. But the more time I spent working, the more I realized that I am using skills that often took a good bit of education and practice for me to develop. To me, accurately crafting messaging, editing writing, researching, or developing an effective presentation feels simple, but I have learned they are not as commonplace as I have fooled myself into believing. I’m still working to overcome the challenge of dismissing skills that I’ve worked hard for.
GC: What advice would you give to a student looking for an internship?
K.L.: Cast a wide net. I don’t just mean that you should apply to a high quantity of internships, although that’s also good advice. Instead, I recommend you apply for a diverse set of positions, especially if you—like me—aren’t quite sure what you want to be when you grow up. As a Grady student, your skills in writing and communications can apply to a variety of fields. Put yourself out there and apply to big-name companies, but don’t be afraid to dig around for something unexpected. Did I ever imagine I’d be doing communications for a tech policy think tank? Definitely not. But when I found that job posting, I yelled it out loud to my roommate and said, “This is the most ‘me’ thing I’ve ever seen,” and the rest is history. Give yourself enough room to find that perfect fit.
GC: What part of your Grady education did you find most valuable during your internship?
K.L.: Dr. Lee’s communication law class. My internship has immersed me in the world of technology and internet policy, which I was first exposed to in Dr. Lee’s class. Comm law taught me important fundamentals about freedom of expression, intellectual property, liability and more, and it even gave me room to develop my own opinions on policies that govern the internet as we know it.
That being said, I also wouldn’t be where I am today without the New Media Institute. Earning the certificate helped cultivate in me a still-growing love of all things tech, and my classes in production and design come in handy daily. But at the end of the day, my internship doesn’t require impeccable technical skills. It requires me to be an effective communicator of complex ideas—a skill which I have developed chiefly through TEDxUGA. I am exceptionally grateful to Megan Ward, her devotion to ideas worth spreading, and her faith (along with Kate Devlin’s) that I am well-equipped to help spread them.