Where are or did you intern? Briefly, what does/did your internship entail? I interned at CityWeekend Shanghai Magazine in Shanghai, China. My internship was billed as being in "Magazine and New Media" but the work that I did covered a pretty broad range. Since the magazine was geared towards the expat community in Shanghai most of my job dealt with researching and interviewing Shanghai people connected with different restaurants, bars, clubs, art galleries, movie houses, etc. to get information on different events in the city and translate them into English for our readers. Along with publishing news on events and writing review type articles I also wrote feature articles on the Shanghai Foosball Team, travel deals in Southeast Asia, issues surrounding the Olympics in Shanghai, etc. When I wasn't researching/interviewing/writing I got to represent the magazine by attending press releases and promotional launches.
What aspects of your internship do/did you enjoy most? Find most challenging? I honestly enjoyed all of my internship. Being in a city as dynamic and exciting as Shanghai was reason alone to love my internship! In terms of fun it was definitely great to be given money to go eat at different restaurants and review their food, but it was also great to interview different owners (especially art gallery owners) and talk with them about what it means to be living in China now. Another interesting aspect that took some getting used to was writing my articles in a way that they would not upset the Censorship Board. There were many instances where article themes had to be tweaked to avoid any kind of flare ups, but it generally wasn't a problem. The most challenging part of the internship was surely the language barrier. Even though I speak enough Chinese to comfortably "get around" it was hard sometimes to follow and keep up complex conversations about more abstract topics.
How does/did your internship relate to what you have been studying at Illinois Wesleyan? My internship related very closely to my other major of International Studies with a Concentration in Asian Studies because of all of the experiences I gained from living in China, but it was also important for my Political Science major. Working in a supposedly socialist country was quite different from the capitalist system that we work with here in the United States. Acclimating to different business and work customs was one thing, but dealing with things like the Censorship Board or even the methods of getting paid took getting used to. Within the workplace it was also interesting to see and be a part of the dynamic between Chinese and foreign co-workers and to experience the different ways that they dealt with issues in the magazine (advertising for prostitutes or not being one hot topic of debate) as well as with each other.
Has your internship given you any insight into what you would like to do upon graduating from Illinois Wesleyan? I've always known that I would focus my work on China, but interning in journalism also opened up a new area that isn't focused on much at this school and therefore piqued my interest. Working in a journalistic sphere showed me yet another way that politics comes into work, freedoms of expression, and international understanding.
What advice, if any, would you give to Political Science majors looking for, or even just considering, an internship? Just go! I did tons of research trying to find internships in China before I left and it can be really difficult to sift through what's legit and what isn't. I ended up just buying a ticket to China and going from there and within a week had a great apartment and a wonderful internship. That can be a sort of daunting way to go about it - finding an internship before you move is a good idea. Either way, make use of having the opportunity to work in a place that gives you insight into what awaits in real world work related to Political Science or any related field.