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Get The Scoop: What It’s Really Like Interning In DC Part 1
May 12, 2015
What It’s Really Like Interning In DC

Greetings my fellow interns and interns-to-be.

Being the top notch networker that I am, I decided (or was told by Martha) to put my skills to good use and get the inside scoop on what it is really like interning in DC.

Of course with my long list of contacts and go getting attitude, this was a mere walk in the park. I got out there, interviewed some fellow interns on their experiences and, dare I say, I actually kind of enjoyed it.

First up in our “Get The Scoop” Intern Series is a production intern working with NPR (National Public Radio). Read on to find out about her experience getting an internship and interning in DC.

1. How did you find/get your internship?

I am interning with NPR and I just applied online. We have a club at my school and I remember seeing it and thinking it was interesting, so I applied.

2. What do you study?

Broadcast journalism and telecommunications at the University of Florida.

3. Was this first internship you tried to get?

I applied for about 30 internships in both DC and New York, and was interviewed for 3 or 4. Some advice I’d give to other students looking for internships is to apply for everything you are interested in. If you don’t, you might miss out on the one opportunity that’s for you.

4. What is your goal with your internship?

I’m working at NPR, a huge broadcasting company. Really what I wanted to do was see what it was like to work as a producer at a large broadcasting organization.

My degree is so broad, it takes in journalism, broadcasting and production, so I didn’t really know how it worked behind the scenes or what role everyone plays. Through my internship I can see this. I can see how it works and I want to bring that back to my university and use it to make it better. We have a broadcasting department that I am involved with there and I want to bring back what I learn here and see how it can help.

5. What was the hardest question you were asked in your interview?

I had 3 rounds of interviews and honestly, I had prepared so well for them. I had all of the usually questions you would expect prepared but then they asked about me. Why did I want this internship? What inspired me to be a journalism major?

I was so used to and prepared for question about the internship itself, but it was when they stepped back and asked about me that they caught me off guard. I wasn’t prepared for personal questions.

6. How do you feel you should dress in your internship? Is it challenging changing from student to professional life?

There is no difference in the dress code at all. In my major dress code is part of the grade and it has to be business casual. If we aren’t dressed appropriately we will have points deducted or can even be sent home. If that happens too often you can get kicked off the course. You have to be presentable. NPR is business casual too, so it works out.

I’m lucky though, one of friends has to wear formal business clothes everyday.

7. What are the biggest challenges you have faced so far?

Getting into a routine and figuring out my place in the office. The first week or 2 were overwhelming because I wasn’t sure how important the person I was talking to was or what was their role with company. You just never know. But you just have to stay on your toes and be respectful and appropriate.

You have to think of how you can use this to your advantage. How can you network? Who you can ask to meet you for coffee. I’m also trying to take on some extra projects so I can make the most of this opportunity and learn.

8. What is the best experience you have had?

I actually have 3:

  • At NPR they have Tiny Desk Concerts where singers and bands come in and perform in the office. Famous singers actually come in and perform, so that is fun.
  • NPR also have intern sessions. What happens here is we get to meet people from other departments that we might never get the chance to meet otherwise. There are 800 people in the company so it would be impossible to meet them all for coffee. They talk to us and tell us how they got to where they are today.
  • Finally, NPR have really good facilities and their café has amazing cookies. They are the absolute best. They also have an employee gym, so right after I get a cookie I go to the gym.

9. What was the biggest surprise about the people you are working with?

How down to earth and friendly everyone is. NPR is such a big company with amazing people working here, so I had my doubts about why they picked me to work here. I didn’t know if I was good enough but everyone is welcoming, open and they want to know who you are. Even the famous presenters who are on TV every morning are really friendly and open.

10. What advice would you give to another student coming next semester?

If I was to give advice it would be to apply for as many internships as possible to keep your options open.

Also, they rang all of my references, so make sure you give references for people who like you.

11. What do you love most about DC so far?

How clean it is and how it smells so nice. Last year I did an internship with BBC America in New York and compared to New York, DC is so much cleaner and people are a lot friendlier.

12. Any tips for your favorite places to go in DC? Where would you tell people to go?

I have been to Basillica because I am Catholic and it’s really nice. Youth groups are also a good way to meet people.

I’d recommend just googling free things to do. Google youth groups or meet ups because it’s really easy to meet friends.

13. What is your dream job, if it isn’t the one you are already in?

To work as a producer for a television show and to write freelance for NPR or Huffington Post. I’d like to combine both.

14. How do you think this whole experience will benefit your career?

It’s very important to have a company like NPR on your resumé. Working with good people and people who are good at their job makes you better.

Also, moving somewhere new on your own changes you. It shows you will do what you have to do survive and thrive. It’s a good indicator to future employers of what you can handle.

That’s it for our first “Get The Scoop” Intern series. Keep those eyes peeled for more over the next few months.