My Internship with Air and Space Smithsonian Magazine in Washington, D.C.


Name: Anna Radinsky

Major: Journalism, Sociology

Where did you intern: Air and Space Smithsonian magazine, Washington, D.C.

What did you do there?
I conducted interviews and research on aerospace engineering with undergraduates, graduate students, and professors from FIU to write stories for the magazine and Daily Planet blog posts.

How did you get your internship?
I attended a School of Communication + Journalism (SCJ) job and internship fair at the FIU Biscayne Bay Campus, where I learned about CARTA in DC and internship opportunities. Professor John Sotham told me about the Air & Space Smithsonian magazine internship. I was interested in living outside of Miami for a summer internship and I wanted to learn how magazines are produced, so applied.

What projects did you work on?
My teammates, Gabriel Munoz, Jordan Cox, and I wrote an issue of Air & Space NEXT, which is an insert aimed at high school students interested in careers in aerospace. My story focused on FIU engineering students building cutting-edge origami antennas, led by Dr. Stavros Georgakopoulos. I learned how undergraduate students from different backgrounds came together in the lab to work on a project that has the potential to significantly change how the military and spacecraft communicate.

What was the coolest thing that happened during your internship?
My mind was blown when I learned a bit about the power of physics, as I was speaking to a lot of engineering students and professors about aerospace technology. Before speaking to them, I never deeply thought about how life and literally everything around us follows the laws of physics. I enjoyed hearing why they’re so passionate about their work. I learned life lessons without having to be in a classroom, which I think is the best part of being a reporter.

What did you like most about your experience?
Living in Washington, D.C. was the first time I was completely on my own – away from friends, family and the city I grew up in. DC impressed me in so many ways because of how rich it is in history, art, research, culture, and diversity—especially political diversity. I spoke to so many people with so many different points of views, which made me reflect deeply about myself and who I am.

My internship allowed me to step out of my comfort zone of news writing from PantherNOW, FIU’s student newspaper and newsletter, and into the world of aerospace. Even though aerospace was a field that I previously was not involved with or deeply interested in, I loved talking to people who were passionate about their work and were excited to tell me about their lives and research.

What did you learn about yourself?
I learned that I am happiest when I work with a team of people that want to create incredible things for others to read and learn. I learned that I deeply love to travel and that I’m happiest when I am able to share meaningful stories with others.

How did you expand your professional network?
CARTA in DC connected me to the FIU in DC office, which allowed me to meet so many fellow interns from different majors and fields that I can now call friends. I grew close with fellow journalists, especially from the DC-based students in the South Florida Media Network Washington Bureau. FIU in DC also gave me opportunities to meet FIU alumni, members of Congress, embassy staff, the president of FIU, and even members from the Florida Board of Commerce. Meeting so many people of all ages and fields gave me a rich experience of learning from others and the chance to build new relationships and friendships.

How did it help you prove yourself in the “real world”?
DC was an expensive city to live in, so I definitely learned head on what it is like to budget, but still learned to manage the time and money to have fun. I learned what it’s like to live with people that are not your family, which involved learning how to be neat, careful, and respectful. I learned that how you present yourself to the world, including how you look, dress, talk, walk, think and say, all reflect who you are as a person. I feel like DC, through my work and living experiences, has given me the gift of greater confidence and trust in myself.

What advice do you have for those beginning the internship process?
In any internship you begin, make sure to remain open-minded and flexible. Adapt to things that might pose themselves as a challenge and take every new experience as a learning experience instead of something that might be uncertain or fearful. As long as you enjoy the work you do, all new things will become easier to get used to. And if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, change something. Finally, especially if you’re on your own in a new space or situation, make sure to tell others how much you appreciate their time and energy when they help you.

The point of an internship is to learn, but don’t forget to make new friends along the way to help and support you. Once your internship is over, you’d rather feel sadness from leaving people that you built great relationships with than feeling like you didn’t connect with anyone at all.

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