LSC students apply their strong communication skills to succeed in their summer internships

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the countless associated challenges, many Life Sciences Communication students had a busy and exciting summer, participating in internships with a variety of organizations, ranging from the U.S. House of Representatives to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences right here at UW-Madison.  Students had the opportunity to apply the knowledge they have acquired through their LSC courses while gaining practical experience in a variety of fields, including social media and marketing, writing and science storytelling, and public health and policy.

Social Media & Marketing

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Abbey Beem serves as a peer advisor and orientator for incoming UW-Madison students. Photo courtesy of Abbey Beem, circa summer 2019.

Abbey Beem, a Junior in LSC spent her summer interning as an Advisor for the Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR) program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), where she presented information about campus resources and facilitated virtual discussions on adjusting to college life for incoming UW-Madison first year and transfer students. Beem attributes her success as an advisor to the skills she learned in LSC courses, such as understanding how language, the framing of words, social contexts, and values can shape how messages are perceived and interpreted.

A Junior majoring in LSC and Microbiology, Ann Marie Saucedo spent her summer as a Communications intern for The Tick App, where she applied her science communication skills towards translating complex scientific information into social media content that was easy for the public to consume. When we asked how LSC prepared her for her internship, Saucedo noted that every class played a role in developing her communication skills. More particularly, LSC 314: Introduction to Digital Video Production and LSC 432: Social Media for the Life Sciences were critical to her ability to curate content for the different social media platforms.

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Jenna Langrehr poses with the Sassy Cow Creamery sign during her summer internship. Photo courtesy of Jenna Langrehr.

Jenna Langrehr is a Senior double majoring in LSC and Dairy Science and she spent her summer as a Sales and Marketing intern for Sassy Cow Creamery. As someone who has always wanted to play a role in bridging the gap between farmers and consumers, Langrehr was able to gain firsthand experience in this field through maintaining the social media pages and giving farm tours during her internship. Langrehr noted that she utilized her skills acquired through LSC courses every single day of her internship. “Whether that’s maintaining the social media accounts, using photographic principles, creating designs in InDesign, or effectively communicating the dairy industry to others, the skills I have learned through LSC were a crucial part of my internship,” remarked Langrehr.

Thinking outside the box, Alexandra Sachs, a Senior in LSC and pursuing a certificate in Entrepreneurial Studies, combined her interests and sought out a Recruitment Marketing internship at WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers). Though she was originally supposed to relocate to New York City for the summer, Sachs worked remotely with WW, where she was tasked with helping with slide-decks, projects, and fact-checking. The content covered in LSC 250: Research Methods in the Communication Industry taught Sachs how to use research processes to effectively understand campaign strategies, which was an unmeasurable asset during her internship.

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Taylor Gracyalny prepares marketing feedback for the Saputa Cheese USA team. Photo courtesy of Taylor Gracyalny.

Taylor Gracyalny, a Senior in LSC, interned in the Specialty Marketing department for Saputo Cheese USA. Through her courses in LSC, Gracyalny developed numerous skills that proved to be helpful in her daily tasks, but her foundations in marketing and branding were particularly useful when compiling monthly competitive analysis reports on competitor brands and included in meetings to discuss brand plans for Saputo Cheese USA.

Writing and Science Storytelling

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Brenna DeNamur takes photos of natural areas and wildlife around Madison, WI. Photo courtesy of Brenna DeNamur.

A Senior double majoring in LSC and Wildlife Ecology, Brenna DeNamur spent her summer interning for Wisconsin Sea Grant, where she collaborated on different projects related to science storytelling. As part of her internship, DeNamur was responsible for producing a video project that will be used to connect teachers and students around the world. When she was asked how she is utilizing her LSC skills, DeNamur stated, “without my classroom videography experience, I would not have been able to approach my promotion project in the same powerful way. The technology, techniques, and principles I learned in [LSC 314] have proved invaluable in this process.”

Interested in finding an internship that spanned topics within his two majors, Gavin Schopf, a Junior double majoring in LSC and Environmental Sciences, reached out to Mike Flaherty, his instructor for LSC 111: Science and Technology Newswriting, and was able to secure an internship with WisPolitics. In this internship, Schopf was able to cover relevant topics to his interests, including a meeting of the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board regarding regulations on fire-fighting foam containing chemicals known as PFAS. Interning with WisPolitics allowed Schopf to practice much of what he has learned in his LSC courses, including how to be a critical information consumer and communicator.

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Emily Hoffins performs her internship duties from her home office. Photo courtesy of Emily Hoffins.

Emily Hoffins, a Senior in LSC who is also pursuing a certificate in Business Management for Agriculture and Life Sciences, also applied her writing skills over the summer as a Technical Writing intern for Terso Solutions. Her ability to strategically communicate life science information with her intended audience, a skill she attributes to her LSC courses, has been applied to all her projects at Terso. Hoffins was able to further develop her professional collaboration and technical writing skills in her internship, and it solidified her interest in the medical communication and technical writing field.

Public Health & Policy

Deciding to make the most of her summer between completing her B.S. in LSC and Conservation Biology and a certificate in Environmental Studies and beginning her Master’s program in LSC, Brianna Van Matre interned for the UW-Madison Communication Task Force for COVID-19, Do Your Part. Van Matre applied her knowledge of general communication theory learned through LSC courses to create engaging social media posts that promoted self-protective behavior against COVID-19 such as social distancing, mask-wearing, and hand washing. The design skills she learned in LSC were very helpful for creating social media posts, managing the task force website, and thinking about how colors, images, and patterns can communicate messages without words.

Rachel Farber is a Senior double majoring in LSC and Legal Studies and pursuing certificates in Criminal Justice, Health and the Humanities, and Environmental Studies. To combine all her interests, Farber sought out an internship with the U.S. House of Representatives, where she was involved with researching areas of public health relating to COVID-19, specifically on how to improve racial health disparities by increasing broadband internet coverage in rural areas to improve access to telehealth resources. “I am utilizing my LSC skills in every aspect of my internship. The intersection between science, media, and society is more important than ever. I have the skills needed to support my office’s work in trying to help people during this difficult time,” says Farber.

We are proud to see that these internship experiences have one major thing in common: LSC students continue to apply the knowledge they gained inside the classroom to contexts outside our walls.