Sidney Christman Woram is a 6th year PhD candidate in the Classics Department at the University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Her research uses methodologies from the field of emotion studies to transform our understanding of the ancient Greek gods as portrayed in the Homeric Hymns, a collection of poems that narrate the birth and exploits of the gods (such as Demeter, Apollo, Hermes, and Aphrodite). Her dissertation illustrates how the emotions felt by the gods in these hymns serve to define the gods and their spheres of influence and foster relationships between the gods and their mortal worshippers.
Sidney completed the Communicating Research PhD Plus Module. She was a Communications intern with the Media Team at the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.
Q. What are your post-PhD career aspirations?
A. I am in the process of figuring out what I would like to do after I finish my degree. I thought for a long time that I wanted to pursue academia, but in the last few years I have begun to think differently about academia and my career options. Ultimately, I would like my work to be intellectually engaging, and I want to know that I am making a difference and helping others.
Q. Please summarize your PhD Plus internship.
A. I decided to apply for the PhD Plus internship because I was looking for a new challenge and an experience that would provide me with opportunities that aren't typically available for those teaching. I interned with the Communications Team at the Weldon Cooper Center. The common thread throughout my work was writing, but I was lucky enough to have the chance to write for a range of audiences and try my hand at different styles of writing. I did a lot of writing for social media posts, from smaller projects like alumni congratulations posts to projects of longer duration, such as program recruitment. I also assisted in video production, curated the fall and winter newsletters, edited content on the Cooper Center website, and helped my team brainstorm ideas for various projects--the list could go on! Without a doubt, the people at the Cooper Center were the best part of my experience. My team was always encouraging and fun to work with, but they also always treated me like an equal. I received recognition for jobs well done but also got constructive feedback on ways to improve or think through things differently, both of which were very helpful. Everyone that I worked with was kind, warm, and fun to talk to, and that made all the difference!
Q. What professional skills did you develop during your internship?
A. My internship helped me to become more comfortable communicating and working in a team (an opportunity that doesn’t come along often for graduate students), since most of my projects were collaborations with other people. It also gave me the chance to experiment with different writing styles and levels of formality, which was always enjoyable! While honing these skills, I also learned the importance of always keeping your audience in mind. If you are going to produce a good or service, it has to be one that your intended audience will be able to easily use or consume. I also came to appreciate the benefits of admitting when I need help or don’t know something. Graduate students often believe that we should not admit when we don’t know something, but this prevents us from learning from others and continuing to improve.
Q. How did the internship support your career development?
My internship experience enabled me to realize again just how much I enjoy writing, which has made me recognize how important it is to me that I find a career that enables me to be involved in the writing process. Working with the Cooper Center also opened my eyes to the many ways in which an individual can contribute to the public good. Teaching is very rewarding, but there are many other ways to make a difference and put one’s PhD to good use!
Q. What advice would you give peers on utilizing PhD Plus internships for career development?
PhD Plus is an opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone and test your skills in a new arena. You’ll have the chance to feel proud of the skills that you’ve already acquired, but you will also have the chance to challenge yourself and develop new strengths. As a bonus, an internship with the Weldon Cooper Center gives graduate students the opportunity to learn more about the state that they live in. It invites them to resist the temptation to stay only in the UVA bubble and instead embrace learning about the whole of the Commonwealth.