Short Summary: Erin Gallagher tried out two internships for the first time: one as a graphic designer for the Digital Media Engagement (DME) team and another at the Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Office. Here she reflects on her experiences with both. 

When Erin Gallagher joined the Digital Media Engagement (DME) internship, she knew she wanted to get involved with the Veteran community. “I saw the opportunity as a way to connect with and give back to a population I care deeply for,” she explained. However, she also took on another internship: “My second internship came as part of a course for my senior year. I applied to be placed at an internship/field site and was accepted to the Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Office in Janesville, WI.”

Although Erin had never interned before, she felt confident about being a DME intern based on her background in graphic design. “I worked as a freelance or contract graphic designer for about 3 years prior to this internship,” she stated. That made the onboarding process smoother. “Some interns did have issues finding graphic design programs to use with the templates, as not everyone has access to the Adobe Suite. I was fortunate to have access and experience, so the process came naturally to me.”

Her other internship at Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Office is different as “[It’s] largely interview skills, writing skills and people skills,” Erin remarked, “I help interview clients for Pre-Sentencing Investigations (PSI), Alternative to Revocation(s) (ATR) and Social Histories (SH). Each of these written works are compiled from the questions asked during the interviews can then be used to help bolster public defender attorney clients’ cases for various situations.” 

Erin quickly learned how to balance the two internships: “I try to keep my work for the VA on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and then I do work for the Public Defender (PD) on Monday, Friday, and a little weekend overlap. It’s also easier to separate given COVID, as my work for the PD is only done in person (besides the write-ups) whereas everything for the VA is online. It’s been hard, for sure, but I am glad to have had the experience and takeaway.”

Erin has enjoyed her work with the DME: “I’ve been able to make some salient connections through my External Affairs projects that I know would like to work with me again, maybe professionally in the future,” she explained, “I also think my favorite part of the internship has been making creative graphics for External Affairs and Content Calendar, as well as interviewing Veterans personally for Veteran of the Day (VOD).”

She encourages future first-time interns to consider making the DME their first internship. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make relationships with your peers and supervisors! All elements combined have the possibility of making your experience even better.”

Writer: Sarah Concepcion

Editors: Lutfia Khaleque and Julia Pack

Graphic Designer: Katie Rahill