This summer was about getting an internship. I knew I needed something substantial to put on my resume, and there was just no question that I needed the work experience. But finding an internship is much easier said than done—especially when there are so many post-graduates competing with me for the same openings. It’s intimidating to say the least. So when I learned of the William and Mary DC Summer Institutes program, I jumped at the chance. Washington, DC is close to home, and I had heard good things from those I knew who participated in the institutes before. But even after I submitted my application, interviewed, and was accepted, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
From the very minute I walked into the informational meeting, the W&M Washington office staff went above and beyond to help me with my internship search. From helping me write my very first resume to connecting with W&M alumni for interviews, the DC staff was there to offer advice and calming words. When I was rejected from a job after a very encouraging interview, Kelly, the Program Assistant, called the company to get feedback so I could see why they went with another candidate. I was then able to take that advice and apply it to my next interview—something that very few students are able to do. Even when I was convinced no one would ever hire me, Roxane, the Assistant Director of the program, spoke with me for a half hour just reassuring me I would end up at a fantastic internship. I felt the strength of a whole team at my back, something I never expected to have for my first job search. In the end, they were right—after following their expert advice, I ended up at the internship of my dreams at the National Geographic Society.
Even now, almost a week into the program, the people here continue to amaze me. After a comprehensive introduction to living in DC from Kelly, Roxane, and the rest of the staff, the students split up into our various institutes—New Media, National Security and Community Engagement. I was able to finally get to know the other New Media fellows and our instructor, Professor Ann Marie Stock. As we went around the room introducing ourselves, it was immediately clear I was surrounded by an incredible group of people. Between the 12 students, there are a number of very competitive internships at high profile organizations such as NBC, Discovery Communications and the National Endowment of the Arts. There are Film Studies majors, Math majors, English majors, and more. Our diverse backgrounds bring unique perspectives to the changing field of new media, which leads to eye-opening discussions. Although we share a passion for culture, our excitement is fostered by Professor Stock. She is without doubt one of the most encouraging and dynamic professors I’ve ever encountered. Our class time consists of discussions rather than lectures, which encourages each of us to think outside of our comfort zones and learn from each other. Because of these discussions, I’ve learned more about my classmates in just four days than I learned about others after an entire semester. Professor Stock’s enthusiasm is infectious, and the class time seems to just fly by (which is definitely saying something, since we’re in class for six hours a day).
This summer was about getting an internship. But my internship hasn’t even started and I already consider this one of the most rewarding experiences of my college career so far. Between the DC office, Professor Stock, and my fellow classmates, I have found a diverse and inspiring support system that I will keep long after my time in DC is over. And with only a week under my belt, I can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer with this new found family has in store.