Friday, May 18, 2012

Internships are Fun!

This is my first summer staying in Ames. The other three summers of my collegiate career I've spent at home, working at a local farm supply store, hanging out at home, or traveling Europe.  Not a bad way to spend summers. However, to finish up my second degree (yup, I just can't stop), I needed to take an internship. After a semester of floudering around, not finding that 'perfect' internship, and resigning myself to a basic internship through the research park in Ames, my advisors approached me with an new option.

Preservation Iowa is a nonprofit organization that helps people across the state of Iowa preserve the our state's history through the rehabilitation of old buildings, barns, houses, schools, and mainstreets. As my boss says, they've been 'crawling' in terms of gaining recognition across the state. After a year long rebranding process, and some additional board members, the organization is looking to really get their name out to the public, while also streamlining their publications, website, blog, and other outreach items. That's where I come in. As a technical communicator, I can take existing procedures, documents, information, etc and recreate everything to make it a little easier for the public to understand.

Now, undoubtably some of you are scratching your heads and wondering "how in the world could she be excited about this? It's not exactly a 'fun' internship." But it's not the work that makes it fun - it's the content I'm working with. I've always been a big fan of history. I live for Old Threshers every year (btw 103 days!), I live in a +150 year-old house that was the first stagecoach stop west of the Mississippi, I grew up on a soon to be century farm, I helped with my hometown's sesquicentennial celebration.... Needless to say, I like history, especially local history.

So my summer is spent working with history! Granted, right now I'm not working too much with the history-outreach side. Currently, I'm just trying to learn as much about the organization as possible so that I can really understand how it works. The more I understanding the organization, the better I can create documents, promotional materials, activities, and additional ideas that will help the organizing move forward.

It's been interesting so far - lots of reading about the IRS and SHPO and NPS and other acronyms that represent the different groups feeding off of the government. And really, these organization are trying to work together to give owners more opportunities to gain support for the rehabilitation projects. There's just a lot of red tape to sift through, and I'm still sifting. But learning, that's for sure. In addition, I've been analyzing some of the brochures and the website to come up with suggestions or ideas to help improve the usability. 

One of the nicest parts about the internship - I don't drive to the Des Moines Office everyday (which is in an AWESOME old building downtown). It's so pleasant to work from Ames, on campus in the labs, even from home. It gives me flexibility to incorporate other activities this summer, while also reaching out to a bunch of other experts in the area.

(Plus, I can work on internship stuff while working as a lab monitoring  - multitasking yo! Who doesn't love webcams? Please excuse the randomness of this picture - I can't even begin to explain my expression...) 

At some point, we're going to take a few day trips to see current or previous rehabilitation projects that Preservation Iowa has helped. I'm excited to see first hand evidence of the good this organization is doing, and the pictures and video from these visits should help immensely with promotional videos and materials.

I'm headed home this weekend for my sister's high school graduation. 
She'll be streaming and watching it live from France.
Weird? Just a bit.
Let's just hope her 'double' makes an appearance for some funny pictures :)


  1. That's what I'd look like after looking at the stuff you've just described.:)

    Cool! I love history too. So did Grandma Caes.
    Thanks for sharing. NM

  2. I just realized I'm 3 blogs behind! Wow. Good job Erin. Thanks for explaining P.I. so well.