In my first week as an intern with the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents’ Association, I covered municipal elections, pushed my way into a press gaggle with the governor and collected eight bylines. In short, I quickly realized that I landed a great internship.
I got my fast-paced start at PennLive, where I would write roughly 25 articles over three weeks. Later, I would wait outside the Pennsylvania Senate chambers to pounce on lawmakers as a reporter for Capitolwire during budget season, and drive around central Pennsylvania to interview people living without broadband access while working with the Philadelphia Inquirer and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. As a reporter with The Caucus, I dug into data and sorted through spreadsheets to land a cover story. Closing out the summer, I learned about broadcast reporting with ABC27, editing a package on one of my last days as an intern.
I loved every minute of it.
I’ll be forever grateful to the people I worked with during my internship, because they taught me a lot. They taught me how to edit a video, how to take photos and write notes at the same time, how to work my way to the front of a press conference and how lawmaking and governing actually work.
But most importantly, my experience in Harrisburg taught me that political reporting is what I want to do with my career, and gave me the confidence I needed to go for it.
So if you’re a prospective intern and made it this far, go for it and apply, because I can’t recommend this internship enough.
Sasha Hupka, 2019 intern
On my first day in Harrisburg for my PLCA internship, I went to the food court with my parents for lunch. As I ate my lukewarm Taco Bell, we marveled from afar at Gov. Tom Wolf, who had just stopped in for some pizza. Within a week, I was interviewing Wolf and other politicians and publishing stories for the top news organizations in the state.
Throughout the course of 12 weeks, I grew so much as a reporter. I had covered politics in my hometown of Philadelphia, but with the PLCA I was able to write technical pieces about the state budget for Capitolwire, a front-page profile on a new state representative for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and participate in data analysis and reporting on an investigation for Spotlight PA and The Caucus. I learned how to write for television with ABC27 and went live on Facebook at a protest for PennLive. Everything I wrote required hands-on work, from staying late to chase the Senate majority leader for comment on the new budget to photographing the lieutenant governor’s mansion and sitting in on a taping of This Week in Pennsylvania.
The real gem of this internship, however, were the Capitol reporters who became my mentors for the summer. I started the summer with Angela Couloumbis, the Inquirer reporter who taught me how to write “jazzed-up ledes” and guided me through my first-ever profile. Brad Bumsted and Sam Janesch trusted me to help with their months-long campaign spending investigation, which taught me how to turn thousands pages of credit card statements into a longform story. Everyone I worked with during my internship is still on my side as I navigate job applications, and I can’t thank them enough.
I came into this internship as a political science and journalism double major, but this experience taught me that there is so much you can’t be taught in a classroom. No other summer program I can find gives their interns such substantial work published in diverse news sources. I can’t recommend it enough.
Alyssa Biederman, 2019 intern
It sounds strange to say that my dream internship was in central Pennsylvania. Aren’t there only cows there? You are probably asking. While the answer is yes outside Harrisburg, it’s also home to one of the most unique state legislatures.
And that’s exactly what the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents’ Association internship was to me: a dream from start to finish.
Every day was a new day to navigate the state’s complex political atmosphere. A fresh start to attend a heated committee meeting, run upstairs to the state Supreme Court for documents, or just generally get lost trying to figure out how to get into each chamber.
During my internship, I had the privilege to write about how the state legislature was handling the #MeToo movement occurring within its halls, the Commonwealth Court’s spending habits and secrecy, and the Senate’s close-but-no-cigar effort to redistrict state lines – just to name a few. I also got to make a ton of dumb intern mistakes, learning that there really can’t be a stupid question (A special sorry to PennLive’s Jan Murphy, for breaking a piece of the tripod and almost dropping it in the river).
Even better, I got to learn from reporters I deeply admire and look up to. Some of my greatest insights came from just listening in on the Harrisburg bureau reporters as they refused political spin and never got discouraged as sources turned them down.
I now use the tools I gained this summer each day to report and edit my peers’ work in my capacity as Editor in Chief of my student newspaper, The Temple News, and as an intern at the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Maybe it’s my naïveté as a young journalist, but going to work in the PLCA suite of the Capitol building each day never felt like I had to go to an internship. I looked forward to it every day for my 10 weeks. I can’t think of another internship where you get thrown into a statehouse head on and get to learn the style and philosophy of six news organizations.
The PLCA internship was the best experience and I’ll forever be grateful for my time there. I can’t recommend it enough for any student journalist interested in political reporting.
PLCA Summer 2018 Intern
Temple University Senior
Thank you for the life-changing experience that this internship gave me.