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Kendall Wenaas

Smart + Strong Publishing
Fargo, ND | Drake University

   I didn’t expect to hear the United Nations president speak this summer. I also didn’t expect to cover a protest on the United Nations steps, but it’s apparently an “intern rite of passage” at Smart + Strong—to cover a protest, not listen to the U.N. president, I just got lucky. Smart + Strong produces several niche health magazines and websites for populations that may not otherwise receive as much support or information. POZ, for example, is a leading magazine on HIV.

   As someone who’s interested in health, I was excited, but as someone who hasn’t taken a science class since freshman year astronomy, I was a bit intimidated. What made my first week at Smart + Strong less nerve-racking, though, was the welcoming people. During my first meeting with the editorial staff, all the top editors asked me what I was interested in writing about, and made it clear that they’d help me get me clips that aligned with those topics. I’ve now written about everything from HIV policy to water workouts to a famous ballet dancer.

   While I’m not an expert on any of these topics, I’ve learned more about health- and medical-related topics than I have in all my science classes combined. I’ve also improved my writing skills by turning complicated information into easy-to-read articles, writing for multiple different audiences, and writing in various styles. The editors are all super helpful, whether that’s by giving me writing tips, journalism book suggestions, or restaurant recommendations. In the same day, the copy chief and I can agree on east village running routes and disagree on the importance of the Oxford comma (I’m pro, he’s con). And, since, it’s a small staff, even the president of the company took the time to teach me how to code. 

Kendall is a magazine journalism major and math minor at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. She’s been an editor for the award- winning, student-run magazine, Drake Magazine, for the past three years, and has held internships with Midwest Living and Better Homes and Gardens. 

Throughout my summer, I’ve also edited video, uploaded and edited content in the website CMS, and completed other miscellaneous administrative tasks, which the Hearst recruiters we met during an ASME lunch say is a requirement to getting an entry-level job. Working at Smart + Strong has opened my eyes to an entirely new type of magazine—one that many people rely on to live their lives. Early on in my internship, I was going through survey responses and read one from a reader who credited POZ to being the reason he survived the past ten years. In that moment, which was followed by many more moments, I gained another level of respect for the people who work hard to deliver Smart + Strong’s content every single day.

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