Considering the Student Experience: An Autoethnography of a Graduate Grant-Writing Internship at a Local Nonprofit Organization

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in English


Department of English


Advisor: Jennifer Haan


This project is an autoethnographic case study exploring the experiences of a graduate student completing a grant-writing internship with a nonprofit organization in Dayton, Ohio. Whereas previous scholarship has supported its findings with student experiences conveyed through the secondary lens of an academic professional, this project seeks to examine a professional writing internship from the student’s perspective. It finds that while many of the author’s experiences paralleled those outlined by other interns in established research, her internship experience overall was marked by a more consistent and lingering sense of concern not assuaged by the end of the internship. This occurrence affected the holistic view of the internship and the work she was doing. Given these results, this project outlines implications for three involved parties: the student interns, the academic institutions from which the students come, and the industry mentors as representatives of the sites at which internships take place. For students, it is important to select internship writing tasks that build from already-established content knowledge; students must also be vocal about their efforts during the internship and seek out help when necessary. For academic institutions and industry mentors, it is crucial to maintain open lines of communication and establish consistent feedback opportunities, often in more formal class settings regarding the former. As internships continue to play a large role in preparing students for work after graduation, it is crucial that students, schools, and organizations continue to communicate about expectations and consult the primary individual undergoing the most development and growth: the student intern.


Higher Education, Composition, Literacy, internship, grants, nonprofit

Rights Statement

Copyright © 2018, author