By Michelle Marino
MS Journalism ’15
BU College of Communication
There is no shortage of opportunities available to BU COM students seeking an internship. Between the rock star faculty, the countless Boston-based news outlets and publications, to the BU-run programs, you’d be hard-pressed to run out of places to send your resume. BU’s Washington, DC Internship Program is one of the invaluable resources available to us, allowing students interested in a number of different disciplines to study and intern in one of the world’s most influential capital cities. From health to public relations, politics to the arts, program participants are able to base their internship on a targeted field of study and take complimentary elective courses.
I spoke with two graduate students currently enrolled in the Washington, DC program, to get an inside look at their internships. Dian Zhang, a third semester Business & Economics Journalism student originally from China, strives to be an international business reporter. Having completed her undergraduate degree in Business & Economics at BU, she has a solid business foundation that she wants to combine with her journalistic skills and multinational background. She has currently been with the Washington Program for one month.
“A lot of people come to Washington because they want to be involved in think tanks or politics. You see a lot of undergrads majoring in political science – they want to intern on the hill to work for a senator, but for me it’s not like that… I’d like to integrate my experiences to be a correspondent for Chinese media in the U. S. or go back to China and work for a U.S.-based journalism outlet…It’s really hard as an international student to find an internship, that’s the reality. If you can come to DC sponsored by the school and do an internship, it’s a good way to accumulate work experience. The program has been extremely helpful for me,” she says.
Dian is working at The Bond Buyer, a national trade newspaper focused on municipal bonds. Although her background is more general business, she says she’s been dealing with “a lot of numbers, reports, and statistics.” “I really enjoy it because it’s great to have the opportunity to get things published on a real, professional website and write stories with the help of editors and senior reporters. It’s been really rewarding,” she says.
“The best thing about the program is that you’re not learning things you can get from a textbook. There’s a lot of practical professional training…We’re encouraged to meet a lot of people, go to conferences, and practice being social and professional. There is a class here every week based on the internship, and you also keep a journal about your work experience. If it weren’t for this assignment, I probably wouldn’t have taken the challenge to talk about my future goals,” says Dian. She goes on to say, “It’s important to step out of your comfort zone. I have a lot of friends that want to come here but they’re reluctant because they don’t want to leave Boston. It’s hard, but it’ll be great when you come to a new environment and learn new things.”
Jonathan Riley, also a third semester Journalism graduate student specializing in Political Reporting, has been in Washington, DC since August working for CNN’s Investigative Unit. “I’ve been interested in politics for a long time and DC is the place to be if you’re into politics,” he says. Although he can’t talk much about the specifics of his job, he explains: “Just being in Washington is a learning experience in itself. You can follow politics in the news but you don’t get a real sense of how the federal government works on a day-to-day, practical level until you’re here. When you’re here, no matter what you’re doing really, you’re in the middle of it.”
“I think the Washington Program is a really great opportunity for BU students that a lot of other schools wish they could have. Particularly for grad students, and communication students in particular, I think it’s a terrific opportunity. DC is a huge journalism market. The federal government is here. National and international politics happens here, so there are great opportunities for people on the PR side of things as well. If you’re into politics, or even if you’re not sure and want to see if politics is something you could get interested in, I would definitely recommend the program,” he says.
If you’re interested in learning more about the program, an information session will be held Thursday, October 9 from 6:00-7:00 p.m. in COM 317. Evening snacks will be provided, so if you’re in the market to grab a quick bite, you might gather some useful intel as well. Have you thought about a semester with the Washington Program? Do you plan on going to the information session? Comment below!