Semester in Washington provides invaluable experience

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    Instead of walking across TCU’s campus to her classes, Anna Waugh has enjoyed her semester strolling past the Washington Monument on the way to work as a Washington Examiner reporter.

    Waugh, a senior journalism and English double major, and five other students have worked at full-time journalism and strategic communications internships in Washington, D.C. since September, she said.

    The Schieffer School of Journalism sent students to the nation’s capital for the first time, modeling its program after a similar internship program in the political science department, Schieffer School Director John Lumpkin said. Students turned in applications for next fall’s program Nov. 16, and administrators plan to announce the participants in December.

    Waugh said the program partnered with The Washington Center to pair students and with internships that match their interests. She believed her internship provided real-world work experience that is not often found in college internships, she said.

    “I feel like The Washington Center really focuses on who they help you get an internship with, so that you’re going to be doing substantial work,”

    Waugh said. “You’re going to be doing work that matters, and obviously that is going to help you more than if you are just making coffees or something.”

    Covering a variety of topics in the news as a general assignment reporter, Waugh has enjoyed the constant change in tasks and the fast pace of the newspaper, she said.

    “Every day is different, especially for me, because one day in news is never going to be like another day,” Waugh said.

    In addition to working between 30 and 35 hours a week, Waugh said she and the other students participate in events and projects that help them professionally. Activities range from taking a night class to creating a Public Service Announcement to writing a letter to a member of Congress.

    Senior Lauren Sanders said the entire experience taught her many skills and life lessons that she could take with her into any profession in the future.

    “I’ve definitely learned how to manage my time because they just put so much on your plate,” Sanders said. “You learn how to manage your time really effectively. You learn how to multitask, and you learn how to live in a city.”

    As a strategic communication major, Sanders has interned at the Center for Strategic and International Studies which works to influence international policy, she said. She focuses on event planning and organization, and works to get the organization’s online products into university classrooms across the country.

    “That was an industry that I never really thought about pursuing anything in,” Sanders said. “And I just kind of jumped in and fell in love with it.”

    Sanders and Waugh agreed that the workload required a lot of responsibility but challenged them in a positive way.

    “I have the same responsibilities as a person who is hired there and is not just there for an internship,” Sanders said. “So they’re really treating me like an employee, and they give me tremendous responsibility.”

    Waugh said, however, that the capital provided more than just academic and professional opportunities. She said she has enjoyed seeing sites such as the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol building, as well as visiting museums and cultural events.

    “In a big city there’s obviously never a dull moment, but in D.C. there’s never even the option of a dull moment,” Waugh said. “There is just so much here as far as monuments, as far as museums, as far as history and culture and whatever you really want to learn about.”

    Waugh has missed her friends and the traditions of living on TCU’s campus but said she would make the decision to go all over again if given the chance, she said.

    “I knew that the experience would not let me down in any shape or form,” Waugh said. “And I knew that if I wanted to do journalism, I needed to come to this program because it was going to give me the best real-world experience that I will ever have being in college. And I think it has lived up to that expectation.”

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