Student's View: First Week and First Impressions

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Student's View: First Week and First Impressions

By Tatiana Le, student intern, AASA, The School Superintendents Association   

AASA Internship As a rising sophomore at a liberal arts college pursuing an English B.A. and looking to teach after graduating, I embody the stereotype of the starving college snowflake destined to be paid less than my STEM counterparts for a job I find “fulfilling.”  

    As such, I rushed to apply for an internship with AASA, The School Superintendents Association, in hopes of receiving solid work experience related to my interests. AASA is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and it serves its members in different capacities from informational newsletters to advocacy.  

    This week was my first week here at my first internship ever. My internship is twofold; I work with two supervisors, Jay Goldman, editor of the School Administrator, and Gayane Minasyan, director of online technologies, on a variety of tasks from reviewing manuscript to sending alerts through the AASA mobile app. This week has been a learning experience above all else as I slowly adapt to the new environment.  

    On the magazine side, I’ve learned a lot about the process a manuscript goes through, from the author’s discovery of the AASA author guidelines to the final publication. I had the opportunity to read rejected and accepted manuscripts and the feedback each manuscript received from the staff. A decision can take months and some manuscripts take years to get published because of factors like lack of an appropriate theme.   

    I also had the chance to sit in on a monthly magazine meeting with the designer to select photography and digital artwork for the August edition. So much goes into the production of a single magazine. The article lineup has to make sense before any of the designing can take place. Then there has to be balance between artwork and photos. Some photos aren’t bright enough, high quality enough or have too much empty space. Some artwork is too expensive, needs to be commissioned or doesn’t fit stylistically. It’s a long process full of troubleshooting.  

    The online technologies side is just as complicated. With over 14 websites to manage, two national newsletters and a sizable social media presence, there’s constantly information to find and share. My first glimpse of AASA’s social media usage came from Deanna Atkins, digital content manager. I have personal accounts with Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, but I never realized what it entails to write for 24,000 plus professionals and keep them engaged on a daily basis. There are so many leadership initiatives, program events, hashtags and people to know when sending a two-sentence tweet. As someone who’s relatively young and supposed to be good with social media, this week has been a reality check.  

    I also enjoyed sitting in on the webinar “How to Work Effectively with School Boards and Search Firms to Advance Your Career” with four women leaders, Carmella S. Franco, search consultant (Calif.), Allison Schafer, legal counsel and director of policy, School Boards Association (N.C.), Susan Enfield, superintendent, Highline Public Schools (Wash.) and Patricia E. Neudecker, AASA past president, director of administrative leadership, assistant professor, Alverno College (Wis.). I never knew that only 25% of superintendent applications in North Carolina were women despite the fact women comprise the overwhelming majority of educators. It was enlightening to hear stories of how women accept substandard compensation without looking at previous contracts and advocating for themselves in negotiations.  

    Overall, it’s been an educational week full of new people, technology and office experiences. It can be overwhelming at times considering how new everything is, but I’m looking forward to spending the next two months of summer here.