Two students find NPR internships worth their while

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At some organizations, an internship is the equivalent of being the errand-boy. It is getting coffee, sorting mail, and filing paperwork. At National Public Radio, two GW students found it could also be an incredible experience with real responsiblity.

Interns at NPR are involved with their team taking on projects and responsibilities as if they were actual employees, said senior Katherine Connors and sophomore Daniel Wolman, who are both interning at NPR headquarters this semester.

“One of the best things about interning at NPR is that you really are treated on the same level as a real employee,” said Connors, a senior history and Spanish major who has been interning at NPR since September. “You have real tasks.”

Wolman, a political communication major, works in the Policy and Representation Department. His job responsibilities include compiling news packages of recent congressional interviews for the Congressional press department after they are on air with NPR, researches Congress members for his boss, Rachel Sherman, to talk to about NPR, and accompanying Sherman to important meetings on the Hill.

“If we have three meetings in a day, by the third meeting I’m actively taking part in it,” said Wolman.

Active participation includes giving the “spiel” about NPR in the introduction, and depending on the type of meeting and the issues being discussed, he often provides his point of view as representative of “the target demographic” of college-age people.

“I got the job in the truest D.C. fashion, I knew someone, who knew someone, who knew someone,” Wolman said, who started working at NPR in January 2008.

While attending a fundraiser in D.C. for a congressional campaign he worked on in Arizona, his boss at the campaign introduced him to his current boss at NPR. After several e-mails and an interview Wolman had attained one of the coveted NPR internships.

“I was really lucky,” Wolman said.

Connors, who works 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. three days a week, said that her days varied from extremely busy to moderately busy. “There is never a slow day,” she said with a chuckle.

Connors works in the Audience Insight and Research Department. The department analyzes audience feedback to programs, synthesizes the feedback for program producers, and prepares sponsorship briefs about the demographics of who listens to a program for a group or person who would like to take advertising.

“It was really interesting to work with the producers and see how they structure the news and shows,” Connors said.

She took part in the process that analyzed audience response, prepared information for producers of shows about what the audience liked or disliked and what the best times for them to get the information would be. Once the producers received the information she got to see how that influenced the show.

Her days are determined by what projects are assigned at the weekly team meeting. Her tasks range from projects to be finished before she leaves at 5 p.m. and longer projects that she will work on for weeks at a time.

For Connors, the internship combines a little of what she liked best about her previous internships. She felt that there was enough history in the news to fulfill that interest and while getting to do audience research which is what she liked best about her internship with the marketing department of an Insurance Brokerage.

Wolman described the opportunity in the same manner, the best fit of what he wanted to do.

“Being a poli comm major is about politics and media, that’s kind of the internship,” Wolman said.

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