Hi there!  My name is Katie Cormier, I’m currently a Senior, and my major is Communication Studies with Chapman’s Honor’s Program as my minor.  This semester I’ve been remotely interning at the Digital Wellness Institute (DWI), an online learning platform that offers certification programs that educate people on research-based tools and practices to help them take advantage of the benefits that come from technology, while also learning how to avoid the harms of it.  I first heard about the internship from one of my Communication professors, Dr. Sophie Janicke-Bowles.  I’m taking her “Social Media and Contemporary Society” class this semester, and around the middle of September Dr. Bowles sent an announcement to the class about an internship position that was available at the Digital Wellness Institute for junior/senior level Communication students.  I was looking for a remote internship that could also be counted for academic credit, so I researched the Institute.  As soon as I read through their website, I knew that I wanted to be involved and couldn’t wait to apply for the internship position!  Their entire mission is to not only educate people on the various how’s and why’s that give technology the potential to be harmful (not just to ourselves but to our interpersonal relationships), but also educates on viable actions that individuals can take to combat these negative side effects and turn technology into a positive force in one’s day-to-day life.

This is so important because there’s always been an undercurrent of potential for overuse and negative mental, emotional, and interpersonal side effects as technology has become more and more ingrained within the day-to-day functions of our society.  And since technology has begun to evolve at a far more rapid pace than humans are, it makes it rather difficult to nail down the full scope of the potential side effects excessive technology use over time can have on the human mind.  And since technology isn’t going anywhere (and I highly doubt any of us are willing to throw out our smartphones and give up the Internet), it means that knowledge of how to interact with technology in a healthy manner is an important and now necessary step for self-care and overall personal wellbeing.  Especially since the current, abnormal, pandemic-induced state of things has caused most of us to experience the majority of our regular work, school, and personal lives solely through computer screens for roughly 90% of this year.

So it’s for these reasons that I was deeply intrigued over the chance to intern with the Digital Wellness Institute, as their work is not only very timely, but incredibly important.  What I’ve been most excited about learning through this internship is how technology effects the mind, and how having awareness of that can be used to turn technology into a positive tool towards maintaining overall mental and physical wellbeing.  Along with this, I’ve been excited to learn more about Copy Editing, Social Media Engagement, and Grant Writing.  I came into the position only being vaguely familiar with what these tasks entailed, and I’m excited that the internship has been set up to teach me about these areas and give me the opportunity to get involved with them.  I feel this relates very well to my studies within the School of Communication because each of these task areas involve communicating messages to other people, and there’s been more than one occasion where a piece of communication theory knowledge I learned from one of my classes has come in handy towards my internship duties.

So far I’ve been most nervous about stepping into somewhat unknown territory, as some of my internship tasks are things that I’m doing for the very first time.  But everyone within DWI has been incredibly helpful, resourceful, kind, and understanding, especially when I had some unexpected family issues arise in the middle of the semester.  And, one of the best parts is that Dr. Bowles works as an instructor for DWI as well, so I get to interact with and learn from her twice as much as I would have had I not started interning for DWI.  It’s especially cool because a lot of the content Dr. Bowles covers in class overlaps with the content she teaches for DWI, so I have the unique opportunity for extra exposure to the knowledge, which has definitely helped me to be better able to absorb and apply the information.

In a nutshell, I’m excited for all the ways that interning with the Digital Wellness Institute will help me learn, grow, and become more technologically healthy!  If you’re looking for an internship, I highly recommend checking them out!