The Olympia Legislative Reporting Internship Program is a fantastic training for students who want to become political reporters, but also for anyone who wants to be a public-affairs reporter of any kind. This internship is a true hands-on experience alongside professional journalists covering the news in the people’s palace—aka the Washington State Capitol.
Alumni of the program have gone on to write for daily newspapers including the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Tacoma News-Tribune. One won a Chips Quinn scholarship while still at the University of Washington. Another went to Sierra Leone with the Foreign Intrigue Internship Program. One alum is now a staffer for a member of Congress.
Students who have completed most of the journalism sequence, students who report for The Daily and those with freelance or internship experience are encouraged to apply.
The students chosen for this capstone experience cover the Washington Legislature for a newspaper or radio network. Past employers include the Seattle Times, the Post-Intelligencer, the Oregonian, the Everett Herald, the Kitsap Sun, the Lewiston Tribune, the UW Daily and Northwest News Network, which includes the public radio stations KUOW and KPLU. The program also includes the participation of 110 community newspapers through three Washington Newspaper Publishers Association student scholarships. In all cases, students work directly with an editor or news director and are supported by the program coordinator.
Students leave the internship with experience covering a complex beat, clips and a strong sense of whether the rough-and-tumble world of political reporting is for them.
If you are interested, contact the program coordinator, Andrea Otanez, email@example.com. The e-mail should be followed with either an electronic copy of everything below—in one email—or hard copies to address at the bottom of this information:
- a 1-2 page letter of application that outlines career goals, journalism training and experience
- a resume
- a transcript (unofficial is fine)
- a list of journalism classes taken
- names and contact information for two references
- Four clips or a radio demo tape containing stories written by the applicant
They can be left for Andrea Otanez at the Department of Communication’s front office on the ground floor of the Communications Building. Clips will not be returned, photocopies are acceptable.
Finalists may be asked to complete an interview or writing test.
Applicants must commit to work full time in Olympia for winter quarter. Interns will live in or near Olympia. The stipend is $250 per week. Scholarship money to partially cover housing may be available if needed.
Students will have access to laptops, cameras, and recorders during their internships paid for by the student technology fee.
Interns can earn up to 12 credits.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What can I do to improve my chances of being accepted?
A. Submit clips that demonstrate you can cover complex stories. If you don’t have enough good clips, try reporting for The Daily or getting news stories in an online publication.
Q. My GPA isn’t a 4.0. Should I apply?
A. Yes. How well you write and how you performed in internships and journalism classes is more important than overall GPA.
Q. Do some students have an advantage?
A. Students who have connections to Eastern Washington, students who are familiar with agriculture and students who have photography or radio reporting skills may have a slight advantage. It makes sense to mention expertise in any of these areas in the application.
Q. May I ask for a specific newspaper?
A.Assignments are made based first on the needs of the employer. However, student preference is taken into consideration.
Q. May I live in Seattle and commute?
A. No. But some scholarship money will be available to offset housing costs for students with financial need.
Q. Can I work another job?
A. No. The internship is a full-time job, and sometimes, particularly at the end of the session, hours go long. Occasionally an intern is required to work at night or on a Saturday or Sunday.
Q. Can I leave Olympia on the weekends?
A. Most interns leave on the weekends, except when their employer asks them to cover something (usually only at the end of the session.)
Q. What do interns wear?
A. The Legislature is a formal place. Business attire is appropriate.
Q. How will I find housing?
A. There is a list of homeowners in Olympia who rent out rooms or entire apartments for the session. Interns have also found housing using Craig’s List, notices at The Evergreen State College, and through newspaper ads.
Q. Will I need a car?
Q. Do community college transfer students have a chance?
A. Yes. Some of the best performers in recent years have been community college transfer students with previous work experience in unrelated fields. Community college transfer students should list any community college journalism classes or work on their community college newspaper, web magazine or radio station.
Q. What if I’m not a journalism major?
A. Preference is given to students who have taken most of the journalism sequence. However, students with strong backgrounds in political science or American history who have worked as reporters are also encouraged to apply.
Q. Can a student who is newly admitted to the journalism major get in?
A. At one of the smaller papers, a newly admitted student performed very well. (And students who are not accepted the first time may re-apply next year.)
Q. May students from other colleges and universities apply?
A. Preference is given to UW journalism students, but students from other schools have been accepted in the past.
Q. How many hours will I work?
A. It averages 36-40 hours. At the very end of the session, hours can go long.
Q. How do I apply?
A. Write a 1-2 page cover letter that outlines career goals, journalism training and experience. Also include a resume, transcript (unofficial is fine), a list of journalism classes taken, names and contact information for two references and four clips or a radio demo tape.
Email the application to firstname.lastname@example.org or snail mail it to:
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-3740
OR hand deliver it to the Department of Communication’s front office, room 102 on the ground floor of the Communications building.
Q. May I submit my application early?
A. Yes. It’s a good idea to do so.
Q. How can I get more information?
A. Watch for notices about information sessions. AND email Andrea Otanez at email@example.com