The Adventure Begins…

So we are on to week three.  Sorry it’s been a while since the last post as you’ll read below, life has been busy.  Although the days go by quickly, we feel as though we have been in D.C. for a while because we know our way around the city, have worked at our internships for two weeks and attended our first two weeks of classes.

Now that orientation is over, most of us wake up much earlier than our friends back on campus. We work regular workdays (for some of us, including myself, longer than the typical 9 to 5 work commitment).  While working during the day instead of attending class is an adjustment, it has been a rewarding and fun experience.  We have been able to truly contribute to the companies and organizations in which we are interning.  For example, I research topics and guests for the news program and correspondent for which I work.  My internship has already provided me with valuable learning and work experience and the opportunity to meet incredible people.  I know Pete and Chris, the other William and Mary interns at NBC, have had the same experience.  With everything happening in Egypt, there have been opportunities to contribute to the coverage of breaking news (it’s so exciting to know what is happening before the rest of the country does!).

The Capitol after leaving the Senate Press Gallery.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we travel from work to our two-hour class in Dupont Circle.  The class focuses on the press and its role in democracy. It is mainly comprised of discussion of the week’s reading assignments and relating them to our own experiences at our internships or as consumers of media.

Professor Doherty incorporates video clips into our classes so we can better understand the context of our readings.  For example, we watched clips of The Daily Show and Edward R. Murrow’s 1960 coverage of the presidential election between Kennedy and Nixon (we all had a big laugh when Murrow and his correspondents talked about how technologically advanced they were by using their RCA computer.  It just goes to show how far our technology has come and how fast it changes).

Each Friday, we have two guest speakers.  Last week we visited the Dirksen Senate Office Building to hear Jack Mitchell, the Chief of Investigations for the Special Committee on Aging, talk about his career. It was fascinating to learn about his use of the media to further his policy aims.  Our conversation with him allowed us to understand just how interconnected government and the press are (Mitchell was an investigative reporter before working for the government).  After that, we walked to the Capitol to visit the Senate Press Gallery.

Our class standing at the podium.

It was an incredible opportunity to hear from the director of the gallery and a Senate producer from a major network about their careers and how close the media-government relationship is (we were all shocked that senators and reporters are friends and even go to each other’s homes for dinner).  Moreover, we always hear about how competitive the news industry is, but as we learned at the press gallery, reporters cooperate with each other. Being able to stand at the podium where senators hold press conferences was a great way to end the day.

The second Friday, we were able to meet with Dr. Scott Keeter, the director of survey research at the Pew Research Center.  He provided us insight into Pew’s surveys, specifically dealing with the evolution of technology and its impact on the way people receive news.  He also explained how increasingly partisan the media has become and what demographics watch certain news programs.  He even brought in graphs from recent studies that illustrated just how much newspaper circulation is decreasing and how cable news channels have changed.

Me standing at the podium.

Rounding out the day was Matt Bennett, Vice President for Public Affairs and the co-founder of Third Way, a think tank that recently proposed the idea members of opposing parties of Congress sit together at the State of the Union.  Mr. Bennett was also the communications director for the 2004 Clark presidential campaign.  He described just how much has changed in terms of accessibility to news, how news is distributed and what is considered news (we discussed the emergence of blogs viewed as legitimate sources of news in the past seven years).

This past Friday, we had our second brown bag with Adam Anthony, Director of the William and Mary in Washington office.  While we ate the pizza lunch the office provided, Adam discussed two intern case studies.  He compared an intern with whom he worked at a non-profit to an intern he worked with at a senator’s office.  One intern was exemplary while the other intern was an example of what not to do.  While it was a funny presentation, it did provide us with ideas of how to maximize our internship experience.

Our weekend tradition

The camera crew filming for the upcoming season.

Every Sunday, my roommates and I travel to Georgetown Cupcake to get the free secret flavor of the day.  We get there early to be some of the first in line.  The cupcakes are so delicious and we were able to see the crew from TLC film for the upcoming season of D.C. Cupcakes. Last Sunday’s secret flavor was Banana Split.  We cannot resist ordering a bunch of cupcakes while we’re there.  Here are our favorites:



Toffee Crunch

Mint Cookies and Cream

Lava Fudge

Red Velvet

Strawberry Champagne

Key Lime

Or any of these:

Lava Fudge, Carrot, Banana Split, Red Velvet.

Shout out to:

Robin Downing, Meghan Moore, Nancy Velasquez and Alex Villanueva for hosting delicious Sunday night dinners!

Javier Cabezas, Program Assistant for William and Mary in Washington, for making incredible brownies (during our orientation week bowling match, our team had a competition against his team: losers make brownies).  He brought them in for one of our Tuesday/Thursday classes making our hectic day better.

Kelly Chroninger, William and Mary in Washington Office Coordinator, for providing us with an assortment of pizzas for our Friday lunch.

Other fun activities we have done over the last two weeks:

Walk long the Potomac: We walked through Georgetown after stopping by Georgetown Cupcake. We walked down to the Potomac-it was beautiful!

A view of the Potomac.

Basketball: Some of the William and Mary in Washington students went to the Wizards vs. Magic Basketball game.

Dinner at Capitol City Brewing Company: Some of us went to this restaurant after one of our Friday classes. We sat upstairs and had an unobstructed, beautiful view of the Capitol at night.  It was also very reasonable ($10 for dinner) and they give you fresh, soft pretzels instead of bread (My roommate, Jill, loves this concept and that is why we decided to go there for dinner).  A fellow intern of mine from NBC joined us.  It has been great to meet other students from all over the country (Brooke is from Wyoming!).

Coming up next week:

A view of The Kennedy Center on the Potomac.

We’re going to see a performance of Shear Madness at the Kennedy Center.

We have each been assigned a William and Mary alum in the D.C. area to be our mentor.  We are matched based on our interest in a particular career field (more on this in future blogs).

So now you’re wondering how you can have a semester as awesome as this?  It’s easy: apply to the William and Mary in Washington program for Fall 2011!  The theme is “The Future of Art in Modern Culture.” The deadline is fast approaching! Apply by FEBRUARY 15TH BY 5 P.M.

Thanks for reading! I now need to do some work so that I can go to the Super Bowl party we’re having!

Categories: Academics, Arts & Culture, Campus Life, Student Blogs, Study Away, W&M in Washington

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