~From Communications Coordinator Jill Salahub
English major and department communications intern Ashley Alfirevic will be graduating next week. I am incredibly sad to see her go. Ashley has worked with me as an intern doing department communications for the past year. For the past 15 years in the English department at Colorado State University, I have worked with many students – undergraduate to graduate, English majors and otherwise – in various capacities. I have advised, coached, tutored, and taught. More specifically, for the past two years I have worked closely with a small set of communications interns, all of whom have been the best of the best. In my experience, Ashley Alfirevic is in the top 1% of students I’ve had the privilege to work with, and is the best communications intern e-v-e-r.
I wish that we could keep her. The internship we run in the English department is for students who are engaged, self-motivated, responsible, creative, and enthusiastic, with good communication and writing skills to help tell the story of the English Department. Ashley is all of these. As an intern, she’s helped facilitate communication and community with students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the English Department. In her position, she spent most of her time researching, interviewing, attending events, writing, and developing content — both for print and online. She acted as a goodwill ambassador for our department. She was such an exceptional intern that even though typically the internship is only for one semester, we asked her to stay on for a full year, and if I could I would ask her to stay on indefinitely.
Ashley is creative, and was able to express that creativity within the confines of a specific audience and our department’s particular purposes. She had so many good, original, fun ideas for posts, both on our blog and our other social media, way more than we could use. And it wasn’t just that she had good ideas, she was so enthusiastic and excited about the work. She took every assignment I gave her and completed it with care but also included something extra, something special. I could give her any task and trust that she would make her best effort, and that she would consult with me if she was unclear about any detail.
Ashley is compassionate and ethical with her subjects, always taking great care in interviews and at events, and in the pieces she wrote. Various faculty had such good experiences working with her, they requested her specifically for other projects. Through her diligence and curiosity, she taught ME about some of our University’s policies and best practice recommendations. This quality of commitment, care, curiosity, and creativity shows in everything she does – the work she completed for her internship, her thesis, her study abroad, her interaction with classmates and faculty, etc.
Ashley works almost too hard. She was quick to offer to cover an extra event or put together a Humans of Eddy post at the last minute. Sometimes I worried she was doing too much, that she might burn herself out, but she consistently maintained her good attitude and energy. I hope that wherever she lands next, wherever her career and life takes her, that her hard work and kindness is appreciated, that whoever is lucky enough to have her on their team doesn’t take advantage of her diligence and good will, and that her effort is fairly rewarded. May she find a place where what she is good at is exactly what is needed, and she’s as happy to be there as they are to have her.
Ashley was accepted to the Denver Publishing Institute this summer, and has promised us one more blog post about that experience, so we’ll be hearing from her again. In the meantime, I asked her a few questions as she gets ready to go.
What brought you to CSU?
A call from Louann Reid, actually. I had been looking at colleges outside of the Midwest, trying to explore the country a little bit in the four years that would be available, completely uncertain and anxious about where I would end up. After CSU accepted me, I had a voicemail on my home phone from Louann talking about the English Department. It seemed that CSU hadn’t just accepted me, but wanted me. Incredibly welcomed and relieved, I knew Colorado State was the right choice.
What inspired you to pursue a degree in English, the Humanities?
I’ve always loved reading and analyzing texts, so pursuing an English degree just felt like a natural progression.
What are you reading, writing? Favorite book or author?
Right now I’m reading From Editor to Author: The Letters of Maxwell E. Perkins. At the moment, I’d say my favorite author is probably Cheryl Strayed.
Was there a specific class, professor, advisor, or fellow student who made an impression on you, helped you, or inspired you while at CSU?
Kristina Quynn was phenomenal as my Honors thesis advisor. She helped me push my writing to be the very best it could be, and was a patient guide even when I started to feel overwhelmed with the revision process. She’s also chock full of wonderful insights and stories.
I also have to give a shout out to fellow English major Sarah Rossi. She’s been my best friend and roommate for four years, and I can’t imagine my life at CSU without her. It’s nice to be able to cook dinner and have a discussion on literary theory at the same time.
I could go on, but I also have to thank Mary Hickey and, of course, Jill Salahub, for their kind and helpful words.
How does it feel to be graduating? What are your plans?
It’s very bittersweet. I’m ready to go out and join the work world, but I’m not sure if I’m ready to leave CSU or try my hand at full-fledged adulthood.
I’ll be attending the University of Denver Publishing Institute this summer, which is hopefully the beginning of a long and happy career in books. Then I’ll be moving back to Chicago.
What did you learn from your internship experience?
I’ve learned if you’re doing something you really love, then you’ll want to push yourself to do better. Wanting to challenge yourself versus feeling challenged is such a distinct feeling, and I hope the future brings the type of work that makes me want to work even harder.
What advice do you have for other students doing an internship?
This job will be really easy and really hard, but not in the ways you would expect. It’s easy because you get to go to cool readings by amazing authors and then write about it, which is basically an English major’s dream. It’s hard because when you’re sharing experiences like that, you’ll really want to get it right. Plus the Department has so many wonderful events that you can’t possibly cover them all, even if you want to.
Why is it important to study the Humanities?
So many people have said this before me, and I don’t mind repeating it. The Humanities are crucial in teaching empathy and understanding. They both force and allow you to explore different points of view and challenge your own beliefs.
What advice do you have for CSU English Department students?
Go to the readings! I didn’t realize what I had been missing until starting this internship. There are some really wonderful authors there.
When you aren’t in school or working, what do you do? What do you love? What are you obsessed with?
In my free time, I’m usually knitting or watching Netflix, or both. I love making dinner or dessert, and I’m obsessed with black tea and chocolate.
Where can we expect to find you in five years?
Hopefully you’ll be able to find me working for a publishing company in downtown Chicago.
Best of luck, Ashley! We are going to miss you — Keep in touch.