Copywriter Intern at Olympus Scientific Solutions
By: Katie Flanagan ’19
I love writing. I love finding the perfect combination of words and that moment of inspiration when the words seemingly flow seamlessly from your fingers, a veritable freight train of thought. So last year, I went into my internship search for the summer of 2018 with one single thought: “This is my last summer before graduation. This is the summer I need to figure out what I want to do with my life, so whatever internship I do has to be perfect.” I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do when I graduated from Holy Cross in 2019 (eek!), but knew that I wanted to write.
After applying to a multitude of internships in marketing and publishing, I was offered a position as the Copywriter Intern at Olympus Scientific Solutions America in Waltham, MA. If the name “Olympus” sounds familiar, maybe you’ve used one of their cameras or interned at a hospital that used their equipment. Even though I didn’t really know exactly what I would be doing as a copywriter, or what I would be writing about, I was both nervous and excited to start my first “real” marketing internship.
My first day arrives, and after the compulsory HR paperwork and meetings, I meet with my manager, Phil. My first meeting with Phil instantly calmed my nerves. Having never taken a marketing course, I was worried I would be woefully unprepared and had the irrational fear that my new employers would realize just how unfit I believed myself to be for this internship. Meeting with Phil proved to me how wrong I was. He showed me that a marketing or business degree, though important, can be useless if you can’t communicate, if you can’t write. We bonded over our mutual love of puns and enthusiasm for the Oxford comma (it’s important, people!), and then I was set to work.
My first assignment was to write a blog post. The post was going to be used as part of an upcoming marketing campaign, and all I had to do was make sure to highlight our products. Simple enough, right?
The topic for my first blog post was glass recycling. Now, I don’t know about you, but I knew nothing about glass recycling. I had a vague idea that the colors needed to be separated, but other than that? Nothing. And so started my research.
Throughout the summer, I wrote over twenty-five blog posts that followed this same pattern. I would have to write a topic I knew nothing about, do an immense amount of research, then write what was essentially a two page persuasive paper that somehow tied in one of our products. I wrote about topics like the aforementioned glass recycling, airplane safety, car manufacturing, bridge safety inspections, and so many more. I also edited blog posts written by engineers and product managers, and application notes that had been translated from Japanese and French to English about antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (now say that 5 times fast!).
Now, I should mention, I’m an English major. The last science course I took was in high school, and I’m a senior in college now. My scientific knowledge is limited, and I’m an English major for a reason—science is not my favorite subject. In my internship, I was writing and researching scientific topics every day. To me, the topics I was writing about and editing for were the very last thing I found interesting.
And that brings me to my main point: what I learned this summer. Because this post is already long (I’m an English major, what can I say?), I’ll try to be succinct:
Don’t blind yourself to opportunities by looking for the “perfect” internship
Copywriting was not even on my radar before this summer, and now I’m actively looking for copywriting jobs for graduation
It’s okay to not exactly love what you’re doing, as long as you’re learning
I did not enjoy the content of what I was writing about, but I loved learning about copywriting. I loved using my creative writing skills in a marketing environment, and I found a strange amount of joy in editing others’ work.
I learned that copywriting is something I actually would like to do upon graduation
And if you’re not crazy about pursuing a job in the same field as your internship, at least now you know that it’s not something you want to work towards
A liberal arts education is invaluable
I know, I know. You’ve heard this so many times before, why am I saying this again? Humor me. When I thanked Phil and Hilary (the director of the Marketing/Communications team) at the end of the summer for taking a chance on an intern with absolutely no marketing experience or classes, they said hiring me was a no-brainer, because I could actually write. I could communicate my ideas, something a liberal arts education requires. By requiring me to take classes outside of my major, Holy Cross gave me the critical thinking skills and communication skills students who only take business classes or only take biology courses lack. And that’s what makes us as Holy Cross and liberal arts students stand out.