Summer 2020 Update: The Olympia Program applications are typically due no later than the second week of Fall quarter. Because of evolving pandemic conditions, changes may be occurring in this program. Watch for notifications through email to Journalism students and / or come back to this space. We endeavor to post changes in a timely fashion.

Introducing the 2019 Legislative Session Student Press Corps | Read More HERE

Please contact John Tomasic with questions: tomasic@uw.edu

The Olympia Legislative Reporting Program immerses students in paid, full-time reporting jobs each Winter Quarter with news outlets covering the Washington State Legislature. This renowned, 40-year-old program provides irreplaceable training in public-affairs reporting for students, who work alongside professional journalists covering government for readers around the state and region.

Recent alumni of the program have gone on to report for daily news outlets including The Seattle Times, Associated Press, Tacoma News Tribune, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Washington Post, Puget Sound Business Journal, NBC and international outlets. Others have become staffers with political parties and politicians at all levels of government. Alumni from the more distant past work at all levels of reporting and management in news outlets around the state, country and world.

Sample work from recent UW Olympia legislative interns: Walker Orenstein, Taylor Winkel, Holly Thorpe, Kelsey Hamlin, LaVendrick Smith, Elliot Suhr, Cooper Inveen, Izumi Hansen, Ashley Stewart, Marika PriceJeanie Lindsay, Grace Swanson, Enrique Perez de la Rosa, Starla Sampaco, Tim Gruver, Bernard Ellouk

Who should apply? Students who have completed most of the UW journalism sequence, students who report for The Daily, and/or those with freelance or internship experience are encouraged to apply. Published written, audio or video clips are an important part of the application process.

Where might you work? The students chosen for this capstone experience are assigned to cover the Washington Legislature for news outlets of all kinds. After mandatory training with UW faculty and other news and government professionals, students work directly with an editor or news director and are supported by the program coordinator, Meg Spratt. In the recent past, interns have been placed at The Seattle Times, Crosscut, TVW, KUOW/KPLU, Tacoma News Tribune and the UW Daily. A premier UW Olympia partner is the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association (WNPA). Interns for the WNPA report for a network of 110 community news outlets around the state.

Students leave the internship with experience covering a complex beat, published clips, a network of professional contacts inside and outside the news industry, and a solid foundation in public-affairs reporting.

Immersive experience: Applicants must commit to working full time in Olympia for winter quarter, which means living in or near Olympia for the quarter, though students often travel to their homes during the weekends. The stipend is $300 per week for 10 weeks, which more than covers the housing and food options in Olympia. Interns rarely have problems finding a place to live.

Equipment and credits: Students will have access to laptops, cameras, and recorders during their internships paid for by the student technology fee. Interns can earn 12 credits.

Application process: To apply, please email all materials listed below in a single PDF to program coordinator Meg Spratt, mspratt@uw.edu

  • A 1-2 page letter of application that outlines career goals, journalism training and experience.
  • Links to four published clips. May be for any regularly publishing news outlet. Send only clips fully reported and written by the applicant. Co-bylined stories will be considered, but are less desirable for the evaluation process.
  • Be sure any professionally used social media accounts appear on the resume
  • Academic transcript (unofficial is fine).
  • List of journalism classes taken, including instructor’s name.
  • Names and contact information for two references who can speak about your reporting and writing abilities. It’s best if one is an academic contact and the other a professional contact.

Please note: Finalists will be interviewed by the program coordinator and may be asked to complete a writing test.

Journalism lecturer Andrea Otanez details the program in this Chat with the Chair:

Top stories from students participating in the Olympia Internship are displayed on the Kaplan Quarterly website. Read stories from COM 465 here >>

2018 Olympia Interns
2017 Olympia Interns
2015 Olympia Alumni Story
2015 Olympia Interns Video
2014 Olympia Interns story
2013 Devon Geary’s internship story
2013 Olympia Interns support story
2012 Olympia Interns story
2011 Olympia Interns story
2010 Olympia Interns story
Intern Video
Internship class of 1973 story

OlympiaFrequently 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?
A. No.

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. 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 Meg Spratt at mspratt@uw.edu