Confessions of a Summer Intern: Jon McGuff’s Journey

Jon McGuff, a senior at UW-Whitewater majoring in English with an emphasis in professional writing/publishing, completed an internship this summer with Nasco. Jon begins his final semester this fall, and he aspires to be an editor after he leaves the university.

Jon learned about his internship through the faculty internship supervisor for his major. It took Jon about four months of searching before he secured his internship, and in the end it was the right experience for him.

In case you missed it, read Jon McGuff’s internship journey:

Jon McGuff


Nasco Magazines

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Confessions of a Summer Intern: Going Back to the Beginning

This is Jon back with my final update. As my internship comes to a close in the upcoming weeks, I look back on everything I have learned from this internship, and I know that this was the right fit for me. I couldn’t be happier with my experience here, and I once again encourage everyone to get involved in an internship at some point in your college career.

Nasco Magazines
Some of the Nasco catalogs that I have worked on so far.

However, one thing that I did notice about my internship experience was that it was almost harder finding an internship than it was actually doing the internship. Finding the right internship can be very stressful, and this is undoubtedly a huge deterrent for many students thinking about doing an internship. So I thought I would share a few tips I learned along the way to hopefully better your chances of finding the right internship for you.

It took four months of searching before I found my internship. I started off by just hopping on the computer and searching for anything I could find. As an English major aspiring to be an editor, I looked at a lot of internship opportunities in New York and other areas of the country. I did this, though, without considering whether I was economically able to do these internships.

The first thing you should do when looking for an internship is make a plan of what you want out of the internship and what you can afford to do. Are you simply fulfilling a requirement? Are you trying to figure out if you’d enjoy a certain career path? What do you want to gain out of this? Can you afford to go far from home? Can you afford an unpaid internship? Are you looking for full or part time? All these questions can help pinpoint where you are flexible, where you are not, and what kind of internship you should be looking for.

The other piece of advice I would give is to network. Networking is just as important in an internship search as it is in a job search. You may think that you don’t know anyone, but there are many connections you may be ignoring that could help you find an internship.

While Career and Leadership Development is a great place to start, they don’t receive every single internship opening. A good idea would be to check with a professor or the internship advisor in your major. Oftentimes they are aware of internship opportunities that may not be highly broadcasted (meaning fewer applicants). That’s why it’s never a bad idea to get to know your professors. They have years of experience and networking under their belts that they’re willing to share with students. That’s how I ended up finding my internship.

Another connection you may be overlooking is your family/extended family. Check the businesses where they work and see if there’s an opening in something in your field. If there isn’t, see if there’s a need in that company that you could fill where you could possibly create your own internship. As the old saying goes, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you leave as many doors open as possible, you’re more likely to find what you’re looking for.

Read Jon’s Entire Summer Internship Journey:

  1. Meet Jon McGuff
  2. Getting the Hang of Things

Other Summer Intern Confessions

Allison Lindsey:

Krista Wolfe:

Ellen Hatfield:

Confessions of a Summer Intern: Getting the Hang Things


This is Jon back with an update on my internship at Nasco in Fort Atkinson. It’s been over two months since I started my internship, and I can safely say that I’m starting to get the hang of things around here. I have finished working on four different catalogs so far, and I start a new one tomorrow. Mix in a few proofing jobs here and there, and I have definitely been keeping busy.

NASCO Admin Office

The internship experience so far has been amazing; I am learning so much about my field and the things that I like and don’t like to do. Just like Ellen was saying, I encourage anyone considering an internship to do it. Employers are looking for experience from college students now more than ever, and there is no better way to show that than through an internship.

The two things that come to mind that I would want future interns to know is don’t be afraid to ask questions and you don’t have to be perfect.

As new employees, we’re expected not to know everything. So instead of sitting around in utter confusion for minutes (or hours), go ask someone what needs to be done or if they can help you with what you’re doing. Just make sure that the question isn’t something you could’ve easily answered yourself. Remember you’re there to help the company just as much as they are there to help you. So don’t be afraid to ask.

To go along those lines, employers aren’t expecting perfection from you. They’re expecting a good effort and willingness to improve. I’ve made plenty of mistakes already, and I wasn’t yelled at, degraded, or fired over them. I simply fixed them, learned from them, and moved on. There’s no reason to be anxious over a mistake. They always seem bigger than they really are and your coworkers have probably done the same thing once or twice in the past.

In case you missed it…

Confessions of a Summer Intern: Meet Jon McGuff

Confessions of a Summer Intern: Meet Jon McGuff

Jon McGuff

Welcome to the 40-hour work week

The road to recovery for an injured Major League pitcher is rather amazing. After surgery, the pitcher goes through months of rehab and physical therapy. Eventually, he begins to build up the strength in his arm and with practice pitches off the mound. Finally, when the pitcher is almost ready to return, he throws a simulated game. This game involves real hitters, and all the basic baseball rules apply; however, the game doesn’t count. The purpose of a simulated game is to mimic a real game as much as possible in order to re-introduce the pitcher to the situations and stressors that he can only learn from in a game-like atmosphere. To me, my internship is like a simulated game. I’m getting the opportunity to experience what a professional job feels like before I graduate from college.

My name is Jonathan McGuff, and I am a senior at UW-Whitewater. Next fall will be my last semester, and it’s amazing how fast my time here has flown by. Originally an accounting major, I ended up changing my major to English with an emphasis in professional writing and book publishing. I am currently interning as a copywriter at a catalog company called Nasco located in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. My main job there is to write, edit, and proofread the descriptions for the products that Nasco sells in their catalogs.

One interesting thing about my internship is how much I am learning about the work place apart from my major-oriented tasks. Never working a 40-hour week before in my life, the transition to the eight-hour-a-day shifts has caused me to re-evaluate how much sleep I need to get and how I should utilize my time during and after work. The company dress code and other policies allow me to practice keeping to a standard set by an employer. Finally, the interoffice communications I have with coworkers and superiors is helping to shape me into a more accountable, responsible, and team-oriented employee.

So not only is this internship giving me experience in my specific field, but it is also giving me experience in the more general field of working. That experience is my simulated game, and I can take that with me no matter where I end up in the future.

Intern Spotlight: Danielle Calkins ’10

Danielle Calkins

Danielle Calkins, Senior (May 2010)
Major: Print Journalism
Multimedia Digital Arts
Editorial Intern with Reader’s Digest Association; Social Media & Marketing Intern with Nei-Turner Media Group

Describe your internship experiences.

This past summer, I was fortunate to intern with two extremely interesting publishing companies. Most of my time was spent at the Reader’s Digest Association in Greendale, WI. There I worked as an editorial intern for the Taste of Home books department. This was my absolute dream internship because I have always dreamed of working for a food publication. My time spent with the Taste of Home department was an extremely informative and beneficial experience. I worked as a writer and editor for both retail and direct market books for Taste of Home and Pillsbury brands, assisted in the overall graphic design of these books, as well as shadowed in the photo studio and test kitchens.

I spent my remaining summer as a social media and marketing intern for Nei-Turner Media Group in William’s Bay, WI. This internship was another amazing experience that I was fortunate enough to continue working at throughout the school year. Currently, I handle the social media and online marketing aspects of the company’s various magazines, including Modern Bliss Magazine, At The Lake Magazine, and Experience Milwaukee Magazine. I am also working as an editorial assistant for the magazines, which creates the perfect balance between my love for writing and the conversion to online journalism the industry is currently experiencing.

What strategies did you use to find your internships?

While searching for internships, I became very fond of Big Shoes Network (, which is where I found my internship with the Reader’s Digest Association. My position with Nei-Turner was also posted on Big Shoes, but I first found the internship by searching through local publications. I knew At The Lake Magazine was a publication I was interested in from the Lake Geneva area, so I simply contacted the editor of the magazine and sent her my resume and portfolio. For both internships, I went through various interviews and was eventually offered positions with both companies.

What have you learned from your internship experiences?

I could not have asked to learn more out of my two internships. On top of learning what it was like to work in a real-world setting of two publishing companies, I was able to network with brilliant industry professionals. Not only was I able to enjoy these positions over the summer, but each week I am able to learn more at Nei-Turner and continue to advance my knowledge of the industry as I near graduation.

What advice would you give to students exploring internships or beginning their search for an internship?

Students who are beginning to search for internships should know that the entire process takes time and it is important not to become overwhelmed. For me, it was extremely vital to stay organized and keep track of which internships I was applying for. I made sure to have a complete resume, as well as a portfolio of all my published work to show in my interviews. On top of this, I created smaller portfolios that I could leave at each interview for them to further review and consider. My main word of advice, though, is to stay focused yet calm during your internship search. For me at least, my internships didn’t come easy, but in the end I realized my hard work truly paid off.

Other thoughts or advice?

One more word of advice, at least for my industry [journalism], don’t underestimate the power of social media to connect to industry professionals. I cannot tell you how many people I have networked with via Facebook and Twitter, and how much these sites truly advanced my internship search. Especially on Twitter, I was able to find internship openings, as well as talk to publishers and editors of magazines I was interested in working for. It really is a powerful tool!

Have an interesting internship story to tell? Would you like to be considered for a future Intern Spotlight feature? Please email a brief synopsis of your experience to me, Laura Jacobs, at