Journalism is a major and career path that requires experience and tenacity in order to be successful. Interning in D.C. prior to obtaining a career in news is one of the most beneficial steps you can take to help strengthen the likelihood of landing your dream job.
Listed below are five reasons why you should consider interning in D.C. and how they could help you become a better journalist overall.
1. Learning the lay of the land in a large city is a huge resume builder.
Networking is one of the most important skills that any great journalist can develop. It is essential to constantly build relations with people to obtain new sources and to get updates and info to help cover a story. Learning how to network in a large city demonstrates you are capable of making relationships with individuals who may not be as willing to reveal a story in a smaller city. This is because a city setting involves a community that is less personal. When interviewing for a potential job, you’ll be able to tell your future employer about your experiences networking in a big city, which will definitely give you leverage in the application pool.
2. Your home base is the political hub of the nation.
Being in D.C. forces you to learn and understand government interworking real fast. Even if you dislike government and politics, it’s bound to come up in your career in news at one point or another. This is why so many journalism majors end up minoring or dual majoring in political science as well. Being at the center of almost every major political happening causes you to get a firmer grasp on how the political system works, which makes future reporting on election night, court cases, or legislation a breeze.
3. You have access to many major news organizations.
D.C. is filled with plenty of prominent news organizations, which means an abundance of opportunities for tours, networking, and learning experiences. Now granted, you probably also need a decent connection to actually access these facilities. Such tours allow you to make more connections at these facilities, which may help connect you to smaller stations and papers for jobs. This can oftentimes be achieved because many of the big networks and larger organizations have smaller affiliates. It also gives you the ability to observe how major networks operate to serve smaller communities where their affiliates lay.
4. You learn how to pick better stories.
News is news, but typically there is a big difference between soft news stories for a small town and soft news stories for a big city (many news stories in a small town would never make it in a big city news organization). Each story told in the city has to have a broader impact on the greater good and must have a strong newsworthy background because each of your stories has to have an impact on a larger group of people. By interning at a news organization in a large city, you gain the ability to build your editorial skills for selecting stories that have more impact on many people from many different areas of the city and socioeconomic backgrounds.
5. You have exposure to small and large news organizations.
In a big city there are plenty of small stations and newsrooms in addition to large networks and news organizations. You have the chance to see the full range of how a small place makes their lasting impact and how big places continue to be successful. You can use this as a guide for how to be successful in your own newsroom, small or large. You also learn skills such as collaboration with various individuals and how to combine your ideas about what your viewership or readership wants to see more of with those of others in the newsroom.
Interning in D.C. has changed the trajectory of my news career. My internship at Voice of America gave me exposure to a large news organization that is government-funded and has a mission to broadcast to areas with limited or no free press at all. The mission of the organization, focusing on accurate news reporting and strictly the facts instead of ratings, is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. Being able to see a completely new way of bringing news to the public gave me more perspective into my chosen career path.