Science writing intern Anna Koefer looks back on her first day at Refraction Media, and finding her voice outside the world of academic science.

Brimming with excitement to inspire the next generation of STEM stars I walked into the Refraction Media office on Monday morning. As you would expect of a company that is not just a startup, but specifically a startup in the media industry, I was thrown straight in the deep end – with plenty of support of course, but more on that later.

My first task of the day: engineering profiles. Writing, and lots of it!

I was prepared for this. Sure, I was a little apprehensive I would be communicating primarily with words when my preferred method of communication usually includes plenty of visual aids. But I could do this. After all, I had produced many engineering reports, literature reviews and other pieces of academic writing.

So I went to work on my first inspiring profilee. My extensive research and review of the current literature combined with my proficient use of academic language helped me craft a piece that was both clear and informative. But there was something about the piece that didn’t quite sit right. It wasn’t until I had a very helpful second set of eyes look over my writing that I saw the problem.

Sure, it was clear and concise. It wasn’t amazing, but it was just a first draft after all. But what I had forgotten all about was my audience. I was so focused on fitting as much information into the piece as possible that I had completely forgotten why I was writing the piece at all. If I was barely inspired to finish reading my own article, who on earth would be inspired to consider engineering after reading it?!

That’s okay. It’s just your first day. Try again.

Letting go of my academic conditioning, I rewrote my article. I used apostrophes, shortened sentences and removed entire sections. I was committed to inspiring students, and if that meant sacrificing a little scientific rigour then it would all be worth it.

What I didn’t count on was how much fun I would have doing it.

My tumultuous first day of writing, realisations and editing was followed by many more weeks of exciting and fun work with an incredibly supportive team. I was embraced for the unique skills that I had to offer and given the freedom and responsibility to put them to use. In as many ways as I was challenged, I was also supported with invaluable feedback and advice.

I would like to thank the entire team of Refraction Media for the wonderful experience of being an intern. For letting me write, edit, post and have free reign on social media. And most of all for finding my voice outside of the academic world!

– Anna Koefer


To find out more about becoming a science writing intern at Refraction Media, click here.