By Evan Mantel; originally published in PHC Herald, 19 March 2010
Patrick Henry College
A student signs up for internship information at a January career fair held at Patrick Henry College
While the prospect of getting a quality internship can be daunting for incoming freshmen, the tradition of top-flight internships is being passed down from previous classes to this year’s senior class and beyond.
Paul Sellers, a general government major, finds himself working this semester at the Heritage Foundation, a large conservative think-tank, Sellers heard of it through Levi Swank, a previous intern.
Sellers interns in the online communications department. He helps maintain the website and proofread policy directives that are put on heritage.org. Sellers also helped launch the new Heritage website.
“It was very hands-on, a lot of content production,” Sellers says. “I was actually putting [directives] online and creating the [website’s] template.
“The Heritage Foundation treats [its interns] very well,” Sellers added. His internship is paid, and “obviously, it’s not much, but it’s better than most internships.
“Anytime I can get paid to do an internship and get course credit out of the way, I’m going to jump at the opportunity.”
Excellent internship opportunities are not only for government majors. Students majoring in CLA, LIT and HIS can also get credit for valuable internship experiences. Tia Ly, a CLA major with music emphasis, interns at Dominion High School, a public school in Ashburn, VA. She works with three different choirs at DHS under the direction of PHC’s voice teacher, Mrs. Cherry Doyle.
“I got connected with her when I took voice lessons with her,” Ly says.
Ly asked Doyle about where she could get internship experience in music. As it turned out, Doyle had been looking for an intern to help with her choirs. “It was a perfect opportunity for both of us.”
As a student teacher, Ly directs vocal warm-ups as well as leading the beginner, advanced, and girl’s choirs in one or two songs each. She had her first concert on Wednesday with the girl’s choir, where she directed them in the song she has been teaching them.
Journalist Tanner Lovett interns at WJLA/News Channel 8, the ABC affiliate for the Washington, D.C. market. Lovett interns specifically for Federal News Tonight which airs at 7:30. He works mainly for the production side of the show, and is responsible for helping the producer book guests, write voiceover scripts, time the show so it does not overrun, and compile all the elements of the show into a half-hour.
“It is an incredibly long process of piecing together,” Lovett says. “It would take a producer a full eight hour day.”
While the production process can take a long time, Lovett is excited about the skills he is learning each day. “By the end of the internship, I will be producing my own show under the executive producers’ supervision.
“It’s exciting because [WJLA] is in a top-ten television market,” Lovett says. “There’s always people shouting back and forth.”
Finding an internship can be a problematic experience though. Lovett searched for a Washington, D.C. internship for all of last semester before landing this one in December. He had applied to Politico, an insider politics website, but was not accepted.
“It was rough at first,” Lovett says of the rejection experience. “In hindsight, I’m happy that I’m interning at WJLA because it’s giving me the knowledge and technical know how to tell an employer that I can produce a show.”
A common theme for these interns was the ease of receiving credit for their internships. “It’s not too painful,” Sellers says.
“Dr. McCollum and Mrs. Doyle have been very helpful to me to let me get the most out of it,” Ly says.
Sometimes these internships produce a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Lovett got press credentials to attend the State of the Union address.
“Security guards led me through the secret tunnels of the Capitol that normal people don’t get to take,” Lovett says.
Guards led him through three metal detectors and constantly checked his press credentials. He arrived in the pressroom, where media members from national and international news organizations waited.
“It was a hurry-up-and-wait situation,” Lovett says. “So I wandered through the Capitol without a tour guide, which was really neat.”
He got back to the pressroom in time to watch the politicians go to their seats in the House of Representatives.
“I got to see Supreme Court Justices Sotomayor and Roberts as well as McCain, Kerry, and Biden.”
After Obama’s speech, the pressroom turned chaotic. Lovett was responsible for keeping the politicians around his show’s reporters. “Just because [politicians] were in line didn’t mean that another news organization wouldn’t try and steal them away,” Lovett says. “I talked to them to keep them interested so that we could cycle them through.
“I got to talk to people like Eric Cantor (House minority whip) and Steny Hoyer (House majority leader), Lovett says. “It was an absolutely awesome experience.”