Journalism student taps into creative and technical writing during summer internship

Recent School of Journalism graduate, Anna Pirrami’s educational journey has “come full circle” after completing her summer internship as a public affairs intern at Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Before coming to MSU, Pirrami attended Penn State University’s College of Engineering and discovered it wasn’t the career path for her during her sophomore year. However, she learned to fuse that technical, scientific side of her with her creativity and passion for writing. Most importantly, she learned there’s a market for it.

“Now the type of writing that I’m doing is applied to a lot of work that engineers do,” Pirrami said. “Prior to this internship, I did a six-month internship with the NASA Langley Research Center. That’s when I got into a lot of STEM-related writing. I really enjoyed it and it’s part of the reason that I applied to the bank. I like taking those complex ideas and conceptualizing them for other people to understand.”

At the Federal Reserve Bank, she was the sole public affairs intern. This unexpectedly enhanced her daily tasks, skills and experience in more ways than one.

“I’d have tasks as little as drafting an email to send to the department and tasks as big as assisting with videography and B-roll,” Pirrami said. “As far as I know, I was the only public affairs intern in the entire department. This really allowed me a lot of flexibility, pulling what I’m going to call the ‘intern card’ and being able to create my own schedule. I had a lot of say in the assignments, projects and tasks I was going to do.”

Even in Pirrami’s department of more than 100 employees, she still managed to feel like she was a valuable member of the team.

“I felt like I was contributing to the work that was being produced — that was a really great feeling,” Pirrami said. “The fact that everyone knew I was the intern, there was always something to do, and everybody always lent me a helping hand. The people that I worked with recognized me, which made me feel like I was really important.”

She’s also bolstered her technical writing talents into her current exhibition — writing for Great Lakes Echo, an environmental news organization produced by MSU’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism.

“I report for Great Lakes Echo,” she said. “I’m taking an independent study, so I’m getting paid in college course credits. Again, it’s taking things that people may or may not understand that have to do with climate change and environmental solutions and writing in a way that people can interpret and enjoy.”

Despite the success she’s seen in her internship, she noted the importance of being patient when job searching and holding out for the right opportunities. She highlights how getting a job right after college isn’t always easy — regardless of qualifications.

“I’m approaching graduation and I’m super eager to get a job,” Pirrami said. “My manager told me I do great work and I have a lot to show for it, but I need to be patient and really wait for the right opportunity to come my way. That was a lesson I needed to learn.”

Though Pirrami’s college experience concluded in December and the uncertainty her future looms, what she is sure of is herself, her qualifications and her desired career path.

“I know what I like, I know what I don’t like, I know what I enjoy doing and I know the type of environment I want to be around,” she said. “I’m very certain about a lot of things that I want in the future for myself.”

By Stella Govitz