The title of intern holds certain connotations. But what does the title of extern hold? Emily Kotz explains the differences between an extern and an intern, and she would know – she held both titles during her time with Circle of Blue this summer.
What is an Extern?
The question I was asked the most during my short stay in the Great White North, as the locals call it, was, “What is the difference between an intern and an extern?” There wasn’t, unfortunately, a specific one-sentence answer I could give. I could say that an externship is usually shorter than an internship, but in my case it wasn’t. I could say that you normally live with an alumnus from Kalamazoo College, where I am a student, giving me the benefit of not having to pay or find housing on my own, but that wasn’t entirely true in my case either. I spent my first two weeks living with Aubrey Ann Parker, Circle of Blue’s news editor who is a K College alumni. (That was the externship part.) The next two weeks, I rented a room in the basement of Circle of Blue senior editor Keith Schneider’s home. (That was the internship part.)
My time with Circle of Blue, while technically under the direction of an externship, became more flexible to what the original definition might include. Several days out of the week I spent working in the Circle of Blue office, located in The Village at Grand Traverse Commons in Traverse City. But I also had the privilege of working from “home” at my location(s) in Frankfort, in certain instances. This way, I could work on multiple projects at the same time, while still continuing to interact daily with all the Circle of Blue staff and interns. I even spent a couple of days reporting for Circle of Blue “on location” at the Straits of Mackinac.
Finding Circle of Blue on the externship program list through Kalamazoo College was unbelievably lucky, and I am so thankful to have been able to spend time working with such a renowned and dedicated organization. Below is a list of projects I worked on and assisted with during my time at Circle of Blue.
Entering the Twitterverse (Twittersphere)
Prior to Circle of Blue, I had never tweeted a single tweet. But the timing of the release of the Choke Point: India series made it crucial for a media blitz, meaning my hiatus from Twitter was at an end. I tweeted daily from the @CircleofBlue account about European water news, and I helped develop a promotion strategy for the Choke Point stories through different social media and academic outlets. I even started my own personal Twitter account: @kotzemily92 .
Creating Photo Slideshows
Each Choke Point: India story included extra photo slideshows in order to further showcase the story being told. Using Soundslides software, I created four photo slideshows to go along with each Choke Point: India narrative. I also learned the importance of SEO key words that are embedded in online photos, to make them easier to search for.
Reporting and Writing
The rising alerted state of the Enbridge oil pipelines beneath the waters of the Mackinac Straits, which resulted in the rally Oil and Water Don’t Mix, allowed me to assist in the reporting and do some writing about the importance and significance of the event. Traveling to the rally in St. Ignace with Circle of Blue director J. Carl Ganter and other interns was an amazing first-hand experience to gain a greater understanding of the level of reporting that Circle of Blue maintains. Click here to read the story that I co-authored about the event with fellow intern and K college student, Colin Smith.
Along with creating photo slideshows for the Choke Point: India series, I also helped in developing a complete ebook of each India chapter as another way for readers to experience the stories. I learned new design skills and iBook software to make a larger audience aware of the mounting water, food, and energy issues in India. Click here to download a copy of the eBook to your iPad.
Have more questions about what an extern is or what it’s like to spend your summer with Circle of Blue? Connect with me on Twitter at @kotzemily92 or comment below.
Emily Kotz is an undergraduate student at Kalamazoo College, majoring in English and minoring in environmental science. She spent four weeks as in extern/intern for Circle of Blue this past summer, and now she can be found studying abroad in Scotland.
Circle of Blue provides relevant, reliable, and actionable on-the-ground information about the world’s resource crises.