Lauren Carlos '21 | University of Portland

Lauren Carlos '21

Lauren CarlosMajor: Organizational Communication

EPI internship: Portland Monthly Magazine

What are your summer internship responsibilities?

About half of my work is fact-checking stories for the print magazine. For every story that goes to print, we go through line by line and make sure everything is 100% factual. Often times, this requires calling or emailing the original source of information, reading through interview transcripts, and doing research online. When I wasn’t fact checking, I got to write stories that got published digitally on the Portland Monthly Magazine website. I did some food coverage, which included a weekly roundup of “what to eat this week in Portland,” as well as some other stories about black owned businesses, non-profits, and the challenges fitness gyms have faced during the pandemic.

Why did you apply for the Ethics and the Professions Internship program?

From the information provided in the initial email from Dr. Houglum, the program sounded like it would be a really interesting experience that would go deeper than just doing work for the sake of work. It sounded like the best of both worlds—you’d not only get to work with a local organization in Portland, where you’d be gaining hands-on experience and making new connections in the area, but you’d also get to take a closer look at ethics and morality in the professional world. Ethics is something you learn about in the classroom and you encounter in some capacity every day, but it’s still something a lot of us take for granted. What intrigued me most about the EPI program was the opportunity to sit down each week for a 1-on-1 conversation with a working professional and engage in honest, open conversations about ethical dilemmas at work, organizational mission, culture, and decision making.

How did you find out about this internship program?

I got an email from Dr. Dave Houglum back in January.

What have you learned so far?

I’ve learned so much! If I had to narrow it down, here are three key takeaways from my experience:

(1) Adaptability. I got to witness firsthand some major changes that Portland Monthly Magazine was in the process of making as an organization, and it exemplified for me the importance of being able to adapt. Not only were I and another student the very first virtual interns that the organization had taken on, but they were also in the process of changing from monthly issues to quarterly issues and shifting to become a digital-first platform. “We’re not the magazine we were ten years ago,” the editor in chief shared with me in our 1-on-1. He shared with me how Portland Monthly used to be a primarily lifestyle magazine, covering things like travel and food and health and wellness, he feels strongly that there are more pressing issues we need to be paying attention to in the current cultural moment with a global pandemic and racial tensions. In other words, the identity that Portland Monthly had ten years ago can and must adapt to the needs of our world today. This means paying more attention to voices in the margins and bringing them to light, such as writing more stories on Portland artists of color. It means holding yourself and your colleagues accountable for doing what’s right, even if it’s messy. It means taking a closer look at your mission statement and asking, “Who are we really, and where do we go from here?”

(2) Accepting constructive criticism. To be completely honest, I had 0 journalism experience before working with Portland Monthly. The first couple weeks, I had no clue what I was doing! However, I am extremely grateful that our editors were the kind of people who were approachable and willing to provide constructive criticism to help me improve. I’ll never forget the first story wrote and got back from one of the editors. She went through the whole piece line by line with me, critiquing my writing with a fine-tooth comb and making suggestions for how I could have worded something more clearly. It was a lot of constructive criticism, however, I am very grateful she took the time to help me. By the end of the internship, I got great feedback about how my writing had improved—and much to my surprise, my last piece came back with no edits!

(3) The importance of curiosity and learning. If I learned anything, it’s that I have so much more to learn. There’s no end to it, no matter how old you are or how much experience you have. Even the editor in chief at Portland Monthly, who’s been with the organization for over a decade, still feels like he has a lot to learn as he navigates cultivating a new organizational identity. In a world that’s constantly changing and wildly unpredictable, it’s crucial to keep an open mind and be willing to learn new skills, new people, and new ways of seeing the world.

What has been your favorite moment as an intern?

My favorite moment as an intern was definitely when I pitched a story idea for an organization called Meals 4 Heels, a non-profit that provides healthy meals to sex workers facing food insecurity in Portland. I got the green light to interview the founder, who started the business out of her own kitchen and has now supported hundreds of individuals and formed dozens of partnerships with non-profits in the community to provide meals for protestors and houseless transgender people. When the story went up, she was so overwhelmingly grateful. She messaged me directly saying that of all the people/media outlets she’s been interviewed by (which was at least 10), she finally felt like the story I wrote captured her story accurately. This was incredibly rewarding, and I was just happy to have helped amplify her voice and the amazing work she’s doing.

Check out this story and others that Lauren wrote for Portland Monthly during her internship!

Why do you believe internships are important for undergraduate students?

I think internships are a great way to gain hands-on experience in a field you might be interested in. You can only learn so much in the classroom, but an internship gives you the chance to go out into the world and actually apply what you’re learning. It’s also one of the best ways to make connections—it’s one thing to message someone on LinkedIn, but an internship gives you an extended amount of time with people that allows you to get to know them and really build relationships. These are people that can serve as role models, mentors, and maybe even future employers. If you behave professionally, deliver quality work, take initiative to get things done, ask the right questions, and show a genuine willingness to learn, you’ll walk away with a whole new network of people who have your back (and may even want to be a reference for you down the road!).

Why did you come to the University of Portland?

I came to the University of Portland because of all the schools I applied to, this one felt the most like home. I knew from the moment I set foot on campus that UP was a place where I would be cared for not just as a student but as a whole person. There were free fitness classes offered around the clock to support my physical wellbeing. There were tons of clubs and organizations to get involved with to support my social wellbeing and need to belong. There were professors in small class sizes that would see each student not just as a number but as a multifaceted individual, eagerly inviting students into their office hours or meeting for a cup of coffee. I also love how UP is such a tight-knit community, especially in the residence halls. Going to Lund Family Hall Mass on Tuesday nights has been a huge highlight of my UP experience because it’s allowed me to feel more connected with the people I live with.

What other experiences have made your time at UP unique?

Taking a year of accelerated German my freshman year was not only one of the most fun and engaging classes I’ve ever taken (thanks to Dr. Hill!) but it made my experience studying abroad in Salzburg the summer of 2018 so much more meaningful. I learned more in one year of that class than I did in three years of high school Spanish class. Knowing the basics of the language allowed me a deeper appreciation of Austrian and German culture, and I loved being able to interact with people in their native language when I traveled there.

Another formative experience for me at UP has been my involvement with Beauchamp as a fitness instructor. From starting out cleaning dumbbells in the weight room and refilling the towel bin my first year, I’ve since created and now coach three new fitness classes for students and staff including a high intensity strength and conditioning program, a 30-minute ab class, and UPlift, a women’s weightlifting program that has led to a measurable increase in the number of women in the UP weight room since its inception two years ago. 

What are some of your favorite memories at UP?

My favorite memories at UP are almost all CPB events—Dance of the Decades has always been a blast. I had so much fun at these events freshman and sophomore year that I applied to for CPB leadership and became a coordinator my junior and senior year. As a special events coordinator, I got to plan Riverboat 2019, which broke record attendance with over 2,650 people! It was a lot of work but immensely rewarding to see that many people show up and have fun.

What are your plans after you graduate?

My plan is to stay in the Pacific Northwest and either stay in Portland or move back to the Seattle area. As a lover of academia, CrossFit coach, and people person, I know I want to do something that directly impacts people to help improve their quality of life. Whether it’s as an admissions counselor who helps students plan for the future, a director of fitness or operations manager at a gym, or a recruiter who works in human resources to connect people with professional opportunities, I’m excited for what’s next.

How did the conversations about ethics during your internship influence how you will approach your plans after graduation?

The conversations I’ve had with people over the past eight weeks have urged me to take a closer look at who I am and what I value. I’m someone who loves listening to other people’s stories and learning about their values, however, prior to this summer, I had never really spent time developing my own mission and set of core values. I would start each ethical conversation by reading Portland Monthly’s mission statement and asking my conversation partner, “What does this mean to you?” This led to discussions of people’s “inner mission statements” and what they feel called to do beyond just their job description. All of this inspired me to dedicate my research project to developing my own personal mission statement and set of core values. This took a lot of intentional listening, reading, soul searching, and reflecting upon who I am and who I want to be as I approach the post-college world. Going forward, I know I will be more grounded in my core values of learning, work ethic, positivity, adaptability, and collaboration. On a personal level, I will be more mindful about how my daily thoughts, words, and actions reflect these values. On a professional level, I plan to uphold these values as an individual while seeking organizations with values similar to my own to make sure we’re a good fit for each other.

Anything else you would like to add?

It’s okay if your internship experience isn’t your dream job! It’s meant to be something to “try on” for a period of time to see what fits and what doesn’t—it’s not the be all end all of your entire career. If you start an internship and aren’t absolutely loving it right away, be patient. You never know what you might learn or what amazing connections you’ll make so as long as you keep an open mind.