Senior Evan Lauderdale gazes through a glass partition at two co-hosts, poised in front of microphones and computers in a Sirius XM recording studio. Six large television screens cover the wall, tuned to news organizations from around the world. The red light above the studio door beams red, signaling the show is live.
“This is the Politics Powered by Twitter show; this is Evan,” Lauderdale greets the show’s first radio caller. “Are you ready to go on the air?”
Lauderdale, a business administration and political science double major, is an intern for the “Politics Powered by Twitter” program on the POTUS channel – the ‘P’ stands for politics, not president – which airs from 2 to 3 p.m. each weekday.
He’s one of several University of Mary Washington students who are interning in Washington, D.C., this semester, in positions from Capitol Hill to government agencies to media organizations.
Lauderdale also helps hosts with their blogs and social media content and edits audio files from the Associated Press.
“I’ve done about three years of student talk radio in college where I hosted my own show,” said Lauderdale, a transfer student from James Madison University. The internship provides “the best chance to get some experience at a national level, which is thrilling.”
As an intern, Lauderdale gets an inside look at the operations of Sirius’ D.C. headquarters, and has the opportunity to interact with experts he has only read about in class or seen on the news.
“I’m enjoying learning about some of what goes on behind the scenes in these political situations through listening to the discussions between the hosts and their guests,” he said.
Fellow student Hayley Eckhardt ’14 also enjoys a coveted inside view of the National Geographic Society, where she is a marketing intern. There, she has a chance to network and to see firsthand the day-to-day operations of one of largest nonprofit scientific and educational institutions in the world.
Eckhardt started as an intern over the summer and her supervisors were so impressed with her work that they asked her to return for the fall semester.
“My internship is really helping with my ability to research,” said Eckhardt, an English major. One of her main tasks at National Geographic involves researching and writing concise reports of companies, programs and potential partnerships for the Society. She also is in charge of coordinating with enterprise directors and organizing an open house of National Geographic’s most popular branded products. The event will be held in early December.
Every two weeks, Eckhardt emails her adviser, Associate Professor and Chair of the English department, Gary Richards, with her progress.
“He has been a great resource,” she said. “It is great knowing he’s there [if I need help].”
With less than six months until graduation, Eckhardt said her internship and her coursework have prepared her for the real world.
“I want to pursue journalism,” she said. “With the contacts I have established as an intern, I feel like my internship at National Geographic has opened that door for me.”
For Keith Mellinger, interim director of academic and career services, internships help students and employers form valuable relationships.
“As a student, an internship can help you develop your skill set and knowledge base, build a network of professional contacts, and learn how to manage the multitude of responsibilities that come along with a career,” Mellinger said. “Our proximity to the nation’s capital provides many opportunities for our students, not just for internships, but also in a plethora of opportunities for employment with both the government and contractors who support government work.”
Although as a junior Ben Hermerding is not quite yet on the cusp of graduation, his internship with the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee is not his first in D.C. Over the summer he interned for a party campaign committee. This semester, he assists with reports and projects for the Democratic side of the committee three days a week, while taking classes for his political science major and Middle East studies minor.
“As a political science major we do a lot of work looking into the federal government,” he said. “It’s amazing to actually see it working from the inside out. To actually go in there and see what everything is actually like is amazing.”