Summary: Mary Lieder became a Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS) VA intern to gain experience as a working, full-time student. Her position as a podcast transcript intern has helped her learn about the experiences of Veterans and has given her an insight into her own family’s history.

Mary Lieder first heard about Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS) from a general announcement at school. As a full-time student with a job, the flexibility of a virtual internship was appealing to her. Initially, she was overwhelmed by the number of available positions and nervous about her qualifications. Lieder was drawn to the VA podcast transcription internship because she had relevant experience from a criminology and behavioral science class, which she had taken in high school. Despite her reservations, she decided to go ahead with the application, “I figured, why not just apply and see what happens?” Lieder said.

As a podcast intern, Lieder transcribes episodes of the VA’s Borne the Battle Podcast, making them more accessible to people with disabilities. When a podcast episode is released, the audio is put through an automatic transcription system, which generates a rough transcript. Most of Lieder’s work involves correcting any errors in the rough transcript, as well as adding closed captions to videos on the podcast’s YouTube channel.

Lieder’s advice to fellow and prospective interns is to not be afraid of reaching out to others in the internship: “It’s easier than you might think to reach out to people for advice on projects. I’ve talked with a lot of other people about transcription projects…and it’s not quite as intimidating as it seems at first.”

When asked about what she enjoyed most about the internship, Lieder said that she liked the transcription work and getting to listen to the podcast. “The podcast material is very interesting. It’s not something I knew about before I started here,” she said. Lieder also mentioned that the internship gave her more understanding about the experiences of her mother and grandmother, who are both Veterans, saying, “It’s closer to home because a lot of my family is military…it kind of gives me a little insight into some of the stuff that they had a connection to.”

Lieder aspires to work in communications and engineering, making data and research publicly accessible and easily digestible for the average person. Though a podcast transcription internship may seem unrelated on the surface, Lieder says that she has developed strong time management and communication skills that will be beneficial to her in her academic and professional endeavors.

Writer: Corinne Nicol
Editors: Brooke Wolfenbarger, Christine Myers
Graphic Designer: Katie Rahill

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