Internship: Scientific Communication
Intern: Maia Carlson, English
Workplace: Kansas Science Communication Initiative (KSCI), Kansas State University
Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Han Yu
Course: ENGL 797
Semester: Fall 2018
As an intern for Kansas Science Communication Initiative (KSCI), Maia was actively involved in its annual Science Communication Week, a week-long event designed to
promote science communication and to engage scientists, communicators, as well as members of the public. As part of this effort, Maia worked with KSCI members and community partners to design social media posts, fliers, reminders, and sign-ups for multiple presentations, workshops, and activities. These contents target a diverse range of audiences, from scientists highly specialized in a discipline to non-scientist members from the local community.
The internship, Maia said, was both enjoyable and challenging. “Every day at KSCI included gauging who my audience was, what they already knew, what they needed to know, and then taking the topic at hand and deciding how to present that information in the most useful, understandable, and truthful way possible. The attention to detail necessary for this was intensive and kept me on my toes. Because of this, when I finished, I was always very proud of my results, because I knew how much work had to go into something as simple as, say, a single Tweet.”
Maia said she learned a lot about science communication and gained valuable professional connections through the internship. Her favorite moment was realizing the importance of communicators in science and interacting with people outside the scientific community, such as students and faculty in journalism or even dance. “I realized that these communicators are pivotal to the process of communicating specialized knowledge to a general public, which was fascinating to me, and it was something I had never truly considered,” Maia said.
Maia’s workplace supervisor, Sarah Hancock, Communications Coordinator at the Office of the Vice President for Research, agrees. “Running the Kansas Science Communication Initiative requires frequent communication on various platforms, and executing Science Communication Week requires coordination of so many details from volunteers to event signups. Maia did a wonderful job of jumping in and coordinating whatever needed to be done. Communications work is multifaceted, and Maia’s semester introduced her to the level of detail, flexibility, and accuracy required.”
To her fellow English students considering internships, Maia encourages them to ask for challenging work right from the start and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. “I had some things I never got to do, because by the time I felt I was ready for them, the opportunity had either passed, or the semester wasn’t long enough to accommodate the project. So don’t hesitate to jump right into things and put the pedal to the metal—if you have good people around you, they’ll be ready to help you through any mistakes you make early on.”