Sarah Curlee, an English major with a minor in Rhetoric and Professional Writing, successfully completed an internship with Prince Edward County Public Schools. Sarah assisted the Superintendent, Dr. Barbara Johnson, and the staff of PECPS in the creation and maintenance of the institution’s presence on social media. Sarah immediately showed an interest in the internship opportunity after she was made aware of it through the Rhetoric and Professional Writing listserv. “Once I really started to get into my tasks as an intern, I realized that the majority of what I was doing involved skills that I’ve learned in the Rhetoric and Professional Writing classes I’ve taken at Longwood,” says Sarah. “I had a blast working with [the PECPS staff]; they couldn’t have been more helpful. While I got the chance to practice the skills I’ve learned in the Rhet/PW program, I continued to learn new things as well,” she adds.

PECPS Internship Picture

Sarah Curlee with Dr. Greg Wheeler (Director of Accountability and Research) and Dr. Barbara Johnson (Superintendent) of PECPS

Sarah reflects on how the Rhetoric and Professional Writing program informed her internship experience:

One of the most important skills I’ve learned in my Rhetoric and Professional Writing classes is how to identify an audience and select the language that will be most effective in getting my point across to them. Working as an intern for Prince Edward County Public Schools helped me to further develop my communication skills in a professional setting. When I was speaking with the board members, I chose professional language that is more formal than what I’d normally use when chatting with friends. When I interviewed the high school students about the upcoming pep rally, I adopted a more relaxed tone that was more appropriate for the situation. While my classes taught me a lot about adapting my language to fit the situation, the longer I worked as an intern the more comfortable I became doing so in a professional climate.

Another skill I’ve acquired in my Rhetoric and Professional Writing classes is how to properly format documents. A large portion of my internship centered around writing articles for the Prince Edward County Public Schools’ website and Facebook page, but I was also given various other responsibilities that required me to compose (or edit) formal documents. I spent a few weeks revising the school profile, which interconnected many of the things I’ve learned in the Rhetoric and Professional Writing program. For example, I was given numerous statistics and percentages that made up PECPS and was required to create charts and graphs that would make the document more readable for a wider audience. In my classes, I’ve learned what type of information should be used with which chart or graph, so going into this project with that prior knowledge was incredibly beneficial.