Professor Leads Students to Beetle Press

 In Blog

CURCA ribbon cutting ceremony and student presentations at Westfield State University, December 2018

In the past 16 of my 20 years in business, I’ve supervised over 30 interns, many of them from Westfield State, my alma mater. The majority of these young and capable students have come to me via Michael Filas, an English professor and the internship coordinator for the English department at the university.

Michael has been involved with the internship program for about 10 years, so we could say he’s sent about 20 of the 30 interns to me. This semester, he referred interns Colleen Looby and Nick St. Pierre to me. I asked Colleen to interview Michael—Professor Filas to her—about what it’s been like for him to work with Beetle Press over the years.

When interns come to me each semester, I teach them about writing press releases and blogs, and editing client’s manuscripts—and sometimes my own, if I have one in the works. Part of this writing work also involves learning what to ask during an interview and interview technique. I also like to take interns to live events as well, so they can learn to interact with professionals.

Michael likes to place students with Beetle Press for this range of experience. “Students do a combination of creative and public relations work with Janice,” he said. “It’s a unique opportunity that the students get to experience. She also gives students the opportunity to write and have their writing published and circulated in a public domain.”

He also values that I often offer students freelance work after the internship is over. Several students—Shannon Grossman and Shelby Ashline—still work for me years after they interned with me.

Mentoring students is very gratifying for Michael. “I like seeing students develop skills that are ‘money skills’ that will take them far,” he said. “I know that I’m helping them in a concrete way to move forward in their career.”

Michael has a bachelor’s degree in business management from California State University at Long Beach, a master of fine arts degree in fiction writing from San Diego State University, and he has a doctoral degree in American literature and culture from the University of Washington.

I didn’t hear much from Michael in the past few years, as he took on the role of interim associate dean of the Westfield State Experience, which helps get first-year students involved on campus and in the community. I collaborated with a colleague of Michael’s instead, George Layng.

In addition to serving as a professor and dean, Michael has also worked for a Fortune 100 company on accounting software, and as a technical writer in the software industry. He has also worked as a carpenter, computer programmer, middle manager in the aerospace industry, a janitor, and even had his own cabinet and furniture making business a couple of years out of high school.

Michael offers a key part of the internship experience. While I help mentor students in growing their skill-set, he is also building their confidence and professionalism. Colleen says Professor Filas has been a huge asset in helping her with her writing minor. “I’m looking forward to taking his Advanced Prose class in my last semester of college this spring,” she says.

My other intern for the fall semester, Nick, holds similar regards towards Professor Filas. “I admire his attention to the minutiae of quality writing,” Nick says. “Professor Filas taught me to slow down and really think about the importance of each sentence.”

At the end of each semester, the students and I sit down with Michael to discuss the learnings, as well as any challenges that arose. We had a great meeting in December with Colleen and Nick. Toward the end, we discussed the intern candidate for spring. That is our cycle of learning.

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