Riley Bass '22 | University of Portland

Riley Bass '22

Major: BiologyRiley Bass

Minors: Spanish / Chemistry

EPI internship: Portland Monthly Magazine

What were your summer internship responsibilities?

I worked with Portland Monthly Magazine’s editorial staff. This team included writers and editors who had their own specific “beats” or topics that they focused on. The main responsibilities that us editorial interns were given included fact checking, researching, interviewing, and writing specific pieces for both online and print publishing. There were many instances when we (the interns) were able to pitch our own stories and then work on them for publishing. The stories that we wrote ranged from local restaurants to climate issues to inspiring community members.

Check out some of the stories that Riley wrote for Portland Monthly during her internship!

How did you find out about the Ethics and the Professions Internship program, and why did you apply?

I found out about this internship because of an email from Fr. Jim Gallagher. The email invited me to look more into the internship via a shared link. I eventually applied, after talking to my advisors, for several reasons. I was initially hesitant, because as a pre-health biology major, I thought I might find more use in a lab or clinical setting for my summer. However, as I talked about it with others and thought on it more, I realized that this internship would be beneficial even though it was not directly science related. After all, ethics is at the center of medicine, and so researching and interviewing to see how leaders and large organizations made decisions based on various ethical implications would be an enormously educational experience. I also knew that this internship was going to connect me with more leaders within the Portland community, which was something that I was looking for during my time here at UP. Lastly, this internship gave me a space to have big, thought-provoking conversation with others, which is something I have always loved, whether large discussions about a new biotechnology or about faith. In all, it seemed like a great way for me to broaden the community of leaders which I could learn from.

What did you learn?

I learned so much from this experience. I learned how to interview people with the intention of gaining wisdom and insight. I learned how to ask big questions and how to then reflect on my own answers to those questions. I also gained experience in the journalism area, such as the process of publishing, how to fact check, how to listen to the community for what it needs to hear and what you need to report on. I learned how to do cold-call conversations for a story, and how to research in different methods than I had previously done. More than this, I learned that I love talking to people about their core-driving values.

What was your favorite moment as an intern?

I loved the 1:1 conversations I got to have each week, whether it was with someone in my placement organization or with another cohort member. They taught me so much! I was able to talk to a variety of individuals, which was eye-opening and fulfilling.

Why do you believe internships are important for undergraduate students?

Internships allow students to explore interests and learn hands-on some of the bigger life lessons, such as professionalism, teamwork, and leadership.

What tips do you have for students wanting an internship?

I would go out and ask. Ask those you look up to, those who are educating you, and those who are at a place in life that you eventually want to be in. They often will have either a direct connection or an idea that could lead you to your experience. I think oftentimes we are afraid to ask, when in reality, many people are waiting for you to ask for their help, wisdom, or expertise. Once you find some internship opportunities, have an open mind! I did not know exactly what this EPI experience would mean for me, so it made me practice taking each day as a new experience full of lessons that I could not have seen coming.

What other experiences have made your time at UP unique?

Campus Ministry has been a wonderful community for me. I have been a leader with Fish (UP’s non-denominational Christian community) on the Core Team, have lead worship, and lead small groups during that time. I have also been involved with the UP Development Office as a student worker, where I have gotten to help plan giving events and write inspiring stories about UP community members. Additionally, I am a biochemistry TA for Dr. Hutcheson, who has been a key part of my academic experience here at UP. Lastly, the people here at UP in general, from my classmates to my professors to my closest friends, have made a huge impact on my life in some of the best ways.

How did this internship influence how you will approach your plans after graduation?

While the internship did not directly affect my plans after graduation in that it changed any path that I intend to take, it did affect the mindset that I want to hold as I enter the post-UP world. Interning as a journalist gave me an appreciation for the power that journalism has in a community. There is this platform that the Portland Monthly has, and they recognized that the large power of that platform needed to be used to cultivate justice, kindness and education. From this, I learned that I too have a platform as a college educated individual who intends on entering a post-undergrad program. In the same way then, I want to make sure that I am constantly using my platform to shed light on things that need attention, and to utilize my future position in medicine to increase compassion and education. In a less abstract area, I also learned that I would be interested in contributing to medical journals in the future as a writer!

The conversations about ethics were the highlight of my experience and I learned so much from them! One of the big lessons that will continue to influence my post-graduation plans is how the interviewees defined failure. As a general consensus, the definition came down to the following: Failure is not avoiding a mistake. Mistakes will happen and that is okay. Failure instead is not turning around after that mistake to learn from it and attempt to change. The absence of reckoning with one’s actions is the failure. This was profound to me, and I know that I will need to remind myself of this often as I continue my education. There is grace for mistakes, and from this grace is an amazing opportunity to learn and grow. Besides this big lesson, I also gained more skills in interviewing others and in asking important questions. Understanding the value of other people’s time and wisdom is something that I will carry with me forever. Everyone has something to teach you if you take the time to listen and ask the right questions, so don’t be afraid of the conversation! I’ll be able to take that skill and appreciation with me whether it is during a professional interview or while getting coffee with a new friend.

Anything else you would like to add?

Even if you have a set plan for after graduation, and if you think you know exactly what you want to do with your life, this internship will still be fruitful and refining. The skills you get to practice here carry into every field of work and into personal life as well.