The world of journalism is vast, ranging from current events, to politics, to entertainment, to home décor. But the best journalists know how to do it all. The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) provides students interested in writing and journalism with the perfect opportunity to broaden their horizons and practice their skills while delving into the political world of Washington, DC. While in DC, the students can explore the city, meet new friends, and learn valuable lessons in and out of the classroom.
Today, we’re spotlighting Meredith Wohl, an NSCS member and a Summer 2016 alumna of TFAS’s Institute on Political Journalism. A senior at the College of Charleston, she is a double major in History and Communication, with concentrations in the American Civil War, Journalism, and Political Campaign Communication. We asked Meredith to tell us a little about herself and her experiences with TFAS.
What are your future goals?
Professionally, I aspire to be a journalist and broadcaster. I would like to report, both in written prose and on the radio, on current events, American politics, campaigns, and intersections of special interest issues. My dream job would be to work with the Politics or Music Desks at NPR. Following graduation, I will move to Washington, DC to start my career in publishing and broadcasting in the most politically engaged city in the country.
What made you apply for DC Internships?
After working in DC the summer before my junior year, I knew that I loved living there and wanted to go back the following summer. The TFAS programs seemed like the perfect opportunity to live once more in DC with my peers, find an awesome internship, and explore the city with exclusive professional opportunities provided by the program.
Why did you choose the Institute on Political Journalism?
I am passionate about pursuing journalism as a career, but CofC does not offer many classes towards that professional path. I knew that if I was serious about a career in journalism, I would need to seek opportunities elsewhere. The IPJ program seemed perfect for my interests, and allowed me to practice journalism in a way I never could have imagined before.
Where did you intern during the program?
I interned at the American Trucking Association’s publication, Transport Topics, as their Digital Media Intern. In this position, I was given assignments to cover companies like Amazon, Shell Oil, and departments of transportation across the country from our DC office.
What was the most interesting story that you covered?
I was given the opportunity to cover the transition to a new American Trucking Association President as the exclusive photographer present at the press conference. This was an incredible opportunity to have my photographs published on the front page of the weekly Transport Topics paper.
Do you see yourself working in a similar environment post-graduation?
While I truly enjoyed my internship and experience at Transport Topics, I do not think I will find myself in a similar environment immediately following graduation. The Transport Topics newsroom was fairly quiet, contained, and worked toward weekly, rather than daily, deadlines. I learned through my experience that I prefer a faster-paced, higher-pressure working environment, where deadlines expire after 24 hours, and there is a sense of hustle in the newsroom. However, working at this paper showed me elements of the workplace that I appreciated and loved, which included our tight-knit staff, team comradery, freedom to pitch stories, and opportunities to network within the organization.
Did you receive any scholarships or awards from the program?
Yes. I received a discount for being an NSCS, an early acceptance discount, and a need-based scholarship.
What were some of the skills or lessons you took away from your experience?
I learned such a wealth of skills and reaped so many benefits from my experience with TFAS. Through my internship, site visits to places like NPR, the State Department, and Buzzfeed, and paired mentor, I learned how to network in DC, used my learned skills to be successful in my field, and was coached on how to be a competitive player in my field while looking for jobs following graduation.
Additionally, I decided definitively that I wanted to move to DC following graduation because of my incredible experience living, learning, and interning there this summer. The program gives students the invaluable experience of living, working, and networking in the heart of the city, in an area that is not one of the safest in the city, but also in the middle of the White House and the National Mall.
Among the many lessons I learned, I cherish one the most: My program advisor wisely told me to take a risk on myself, and follow my biggest passions first. She told me not to be afraid to apply for competitive jobs, throw myself into my work, or to shy away from big challenges just because of my inexperience, which was such a gift to hear. I learned that my work ethic and passion will take me far in life, and that a “no” is just another opportunity to try something else.
Would you recommend TFAS for other students?
I would absolutely recommend this program for any student interested in experiencing the spirit of DC. This program has nearly universal applicability to any field in the realm of humanities and social sciences, and is a unique opportunity to do so much more than just intern – the programs allow you to find lifelong mentors, connect with peers from around the world, and visit places you otherwise would never have access to.
Any advice for future participants?
Invest yourself in your experience with TFAS. Actively participate, listen closely, ask questions, stay behind after guest lectures to network with the speakers, bring business cards, and be constantly present. Network with your peers, stay late at your internship, and take time to truly experience the city. Don’t be timid, and recognize that most everyone you look up to who you meet, work with, or interact with would love to speak with you about their career’s history. Learn about the informational interview and master it. Keep up with your network, and use it to launch your career!
Now that you’ve read about Meredith’s experience, it’s your turn to apply! For more information on the admissions process, including scholarships, deadlines, and the application, please visit www.DCinternships.org. To receive the exclusive 5% tuition discount offered to NSCS members, please email Dana Faught at email@example.com and identify yourself as an NSCS member.
Sydney Wilson-Roberts is an NSCS Member from Howard University and Intern at the NSCS National Office in Washington D.C.