Olympia interns prepare for whirlwind reporting

For the past 39 years, Communication undergrads have been sent to work as interns covering the Olympia Legislature. This year is no different as seven students, under the tutelage of Senior Lecturer Mike Henderson, are currently in Olympia reporting for a number of media companies.

Azusa Uchikura is working for the Northwest News Network; Erin Flemming for TVW; Raechel Lynne Dawson for the Skagit Valley Herald; Stephanie Kim for The Seattle Times; Lexie Krell for The News Tribune and The Olympian; and both Maida Suljevic and Scott Panitz are working for the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association, representing the nondaily newspapers of Washington State.

Their schedules already full, the interns are experiencing the hands-on political reporting they set out for. “I applied to this internship because I was, and still am, hungry for experience and knowledge,” said Dawson. “Journalism is my passion and I know that this internship will strengthen my skills so that my dream-job will become a real career in the future.”

In the next ten weeks, Dawson will be sharpening her interviewing and writing skills to prepare for a future career as a news reporter. Although this is her first experience with a journalism-related internship, she previously worked for Bellevue College’s newspaper, The Jibsheet, as the Assistant Arts Editor. “Anything that will allow me to write and tell people’s stories is something that I can see myself doing for the rest of my life — something that I know I’ll be excited to do when I wake up in the morning,” she said.

While there’s much to look forward to for these students, apprehensiveness naturally comes along with beginning a new internship. One area of concern is the steep learning curve of the internship that they’ve heard about from previous Olympia interns. They’re being thrown into an environment that they’ve never before experienced, so it all comes down to how well they adapt.

“There is nothing like the experience of attending meetings and interviewing people to produce stories,” said Flemming. “I think it’s going to be hard at first, but I am excited regardless!” A former writer and editor at The Daily, Flemming hopes the experience she gains as an Olympia intern will contribute to her success in a future career in broadcast journalism.

Kim also has her concerns about the go-go-go atmosphere that is the Olympia internship, but this journalism and political science major will surely find her groove as she learns more in-depth about the processes of lawmaking – a topic in which she’s always held interest. “I am looking forward to meeting with lawmakers individually, and understanding more of the ‘behind-the-scene’ aspects of how laws are created,” Kim said. “Everything seems so simplified in articles and news reports, so I am really excited to understand and experience the process.”

Though all seven of the 2012 Olympia interns will face new challenges during their internships, the general consensus is that being chosen to participate in such an experience is quite the honor, in more ways than one. According to Panitz, “I think this will be a very valuable experience that I’ll never forget. Not only will I learn more than I ever could in a classroom, I’m also going to get to experience a new city and live in a cramped apartment with two nice young ladies.”

-By Amanda Weber