Internships at EAA are the Real Deal

12 10 2012

By: Barb Benish

I’ve worked for EAA AirVenture’s daily newspaper for 17 of the 18 years it’s been in existence. The one year I missed — its inaugural year — I had a baby instead.

After that many years you would think that working for a daily paper the one week that Oshkosh is inundated with hundreds of thousands of aviation enthusiasts would become in some ways almost mundane or predictable. After all, you cover many of the same events, just with different people or planes.

Oh, there are the times you get the plum assignments. I’ve interviewed celebrities, such as Morgan Freeman, an actor known for such movies as “Million Dollar Baby” and “The Shawshank Redemption,” who just happens to be a pretty good pilot; Capt. Thomas Hudner, who received the Medal of Honor for crash-landing his plane to try to help his wingman, the Navy’s first African-American aviator; and retired NASA astronaut Robert “Hoot” Gibson, who flew five missions and spent more than 36 days in space, to name a few. I can’t lie. Those stories were a lot of fun.

But working for the 2012 annual fly-in and convention, however, was more rewarding than usual. That is because I worked alongside more UW-Oshkosh journalism alumni and students than ever before.

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UW-Oshkosh journalism alumni working in the EAA AirVenture Today office included Meghan Plummer, assistant editor at EAA and a 2010 graduate, and Kelly Nelson, EAA managing editor and a 2005 alumna. Then there was me, of course, a 1993 graduate who works as a freelance writer and editor besides being a journalism instructor at UW-Oshkosh.

Students getting real-world experience — plus clips for their portfolios — included Sienna Kossman, Sonia Zimmerman and Katherine Pecora.

“I LOVED the experience!” said Zimmerman. “I met some wonderful people and gained knowledge that I would not have access to in the classroom. I feel very honored that I was able to be a part of the action.”

Kossman agreed. “My internship experience with the EAA publications department gave me insight into an area of journalism that I never considered being involved in and expanded my horizons in incredible ways,” she said. “Not only did I learn a lot about the field of aviation, but I also got to experience working in a magazine publication setting, working on a strictly web-content weekly newsletter and then, during AirVenture, a daily newspaper. The variety of skills I was able to expand on was incredible. I have now broadened my vision for future jobs after graduation and feel more prepared for some of my upcoming journalism classes. Additionally, the connections I made while working at EAA are also outstanding and irreplaceable.”

All these students get it. Yes, school is very important. But so is the experience you get with an internship. Besides interning at EAA this summer, this group continues to get real-world experience that will help them land permanent jobs once they leave Sage Hall. They are working for or interning at The Heckler, designing a monthly sport magazine read by fans across the United States; serving as Editor in Chief for The Advance-Titan; and more.

Employers are saying they are looking to hire students who have had two or three internships because they want people who have proven skills and who aren’t afraid to try something new. So what are you waiting for? Email me at benish@uwosh.edu to set up an appointment. I’d love to help you find an internship. And I look forward to working with some of you at EAA AirVenture 2013!

From left: Meghan Plummer, Sonia Zimmerman, Sienna Kossman, Kelly Nelson, Barbara Benish and Katherine Pecora pose outside the AirVenture Today offices.

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